LOS ANGELES, December 15, 2012 — It doesn’t stop. From a hurricane in New Jersey and New York to a football field in Kansas City to a shopping mall in Portland to a school in a quiet suburb in Connecticut, it just doesn’t stop.
Pray for the suffering, but also pray for those who pray. Many Americans are under attack for simply wanting to lead lives centered around God. Although religion has been misappropriated for some of the worst evil known to humankind, it has also been a force for incredible good. This is often overlooked.
My normal, middle-class upbringing thankfully lacked the tragedies afflicting many families. My four grandparents were alive when I graduated college. Three of them were there when I turned thirty. When one cousin fell ill, my grandfather said he would handle it. “Nobody is dying in this family. We don’t die early in this family. That happens to other families.”
We were blessed and very lucky. Nevertheless, I harbor no illusions about life’s fragility. Friends have suffered the ultimate pain. Prayers for them have not always been answered in the happiest manner.
Yet some harbor an irrational fear in America of anybody and anything deemed “religious.” This is senseless. Some secularists and atheists feel that religious people want a theocracy where they impose their will on non-believers. If anything, the pendulum has swung in the other direction.
Religion teaches tolerance and love of others. Some ignore this, but that invalidates their interpretation, not the religions themselves. Lately secularists are trying to impose their will on people simply wanting to live their lives as they believe God commands.
Christianity remains under assault. Christianity is about helping people and institutions effectively saving lives.
Churches, Synagogues and Mosques are led by people who feed the hungry, clothe the poor, shelter the homeless, comfort the grieving, help drug addicts recover, and give people near death a fighting chance to live. These people do this because God commands this. Even positive help is sometimes shunned if motivated by belief in God. Why? If the goal is to make a better world, let’s help people who are doing it!
Christians are not alone. Despite everything Jews have been through, religious Judaism is attacked. Ironically enough, many of these attacks come from other Jews.
Some of my friends belong to an organization known as Chabad. Chabad has been referred to as “ultra-Orthodox.” This is the same slur used when political conservatives are referred to as “ultra-conservative.” “Ultra” implies extremism.
All Chabad ever did was welcome me into their homes, offer me nice sabbath meals, ask how my life was going, and ask if there was any way they could help. They also ask for donations, but what organization doesn’t?
These “extremists,” never demanded that I live my life the way they live theirs. In their homes I obey Chabad doctrines, but that is the polite way to respect anybody’s home. They do not ask how I live in my home. Would they like me to be more religious? Sure. Have they ever given me an ultimatum that failing to do so would bar me from the religious community? Not once.
Chabad runs a drug treatment center that has gotten many people of all faiths clean and sober. They were helped, which is exactly what religious organizations are supposed to do.
One reason many people have hostility toward God and religion is because it forces people to take introspective looks inside themselves, knowing they might not always like what they see. It is easier to ask a religion to change its entire Torah or New Testament doctrine than to alter personal bad habits.
Pope John Paul II understood this. “Progressive” Catholics were often angry that the Pope did not bend with the times and adopt fresher standards. As Rush Limbaugh noted, the Pope’s response for the Church was, “We are the standard. You have to change. We will not change so people feel better about their own sin.”
Islam is also under the microscope. Radical Islam is a scourge on humanity and must be destroyed. True followers of Islam, many of whom are my friends, despise Islamists. Islamists have tried to hijack Islam in the same way they hijacked airplanes. The 9/11 hijackers were not religious men. They gambled in casinos, slept with prostitutes, engaged in drug-running and gun-running, and other anti-religious behavior. It was doubtful they observed Ramadan or prayed five times daily. The Koran respects Jews as “the people of the book.” No true Muslim hates Jews or Christians. When the Towers went down, decent Muslims everywhere were horrified and angry that people pretending to follow Islam committed such atrocities.
There is plenty of suffering in this world, much of it unavoidable. What matters is caring about people and trying to improve the world. So many Rabbis, Priests, Reverends, and Imams do good. We should support them, not fight them. Religion teaches people not to murder, steal, or commit adultery. It instructs us to honor our parents. People obeying these laws are better humans than those who do not.
Atheists rightly point out that theism is not required to live honorably. Truly religious people would never condemn atheists or agnostics, lest they substitute themselves for God. Truly devout monotheists love all God’s children, and leave it up to God to decide who is worthy. Most religious people do not confuse themselves with their master. They are humble servants.
So as we grieve together over the latest horrific tragedy, let us remember that the best possible prevention method is to find what ails the human heart. True devotion to God heals the heart.
Rather than attack religious people, embrace them. Accept their help. Don’t burn bridges. Build them. Then walk across them holding hands. We can start by taking the bridge to Staten Island. It will not be easy, but with the help of God, and good people everywhere who follow his teachings, lives everywhere will be rebuilt.
This is worth it.
Brooklyn born, Long Island raised, and now living in Los Angeles, Eric Golub is a politically conservative columnist, blogger, author, public speaker, satirist and comedian. Eric is the author of the book trilogy “Ideological Bigotry, “Ideological Violence,” and “Ideological Idiocy.”
Eric is 100% alcohol, tobacco, drug, and liberalism free. Follow Eric on Twitter
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