paris bodyHow should Universal Life Church ministers respond when people are murdered for insulting the religious sensibilities of radical jihadist Muslims terrorist? Should they stand on the side of free speech, or that of political corrected religious tolerance? The recent executions at the office of a satirical magazine in the center of Paris force us to navigate the tightrope between the two. While violence is never the answer to religious mockery, nor is the undercurrent of racism and religious prejudice which some have argued lurks beneath the surface of religious satirical journalism in the West.

A Dark Day for Journalism

The bloody killings, which took place Wednesday, the 7th of January, were among the worst attacks on the public in modern French history. The attackers, who were radical, fundamentalist Islamic French brothers named Said and Cherif Kouachi, stormed the offices of the Charlie Hebdo magazine and opened fire, killing twelve people, including two police officers. According to witnesses, one of the gunmen shouted, “We have avenged the prophet. We killed Charlie Hebdo”. Yes, they avenged a 4th century cleric revolutionary who believed the world was flat and your heavenly reward was a harem of virgin little girls and boys (see QURAN 52:24: “And there will go round boy-servants of theirs, to serve them as if they were preserved pearls”).

On Friday, police cornered the suspects in a printing warehouse near Paris. They fled the warehouse firing at police, who granted their wish to meet their maker.

paris not afraidIt was the end of a bloody and horrific massacre, but the beginning of an important dialogue about the state of freedom of speech and other democratic principles in a world increasingly besieged by religious terrorism. Almost immediately, demonstrators held vigils in cities round the world, holding signs that read “Je Suis Charlie” (“I am Charlie”), in solidarity with the victims of the Charlie Hebdo shooting. And almost just as soon, a global conversation began about the threat of religious extremism to free speech and freedom of the press. But on the sidelines some suggested that, while the shooting was inexcusable, it was provoked by racist mockery on the part of the cartoonists.

Free-Speech Martyrs, or Racist Provocateurs?

Among those defending the satirical cartoons produce by Charlie Hebdo is Iranian-French graphic novelist Marjane Satrapi, the author of “Persepolis”. Although she disagrees with some of the magazine’s messages, she believes their mockery of Islam or other religions deserves to be defended because “[p]eople have the right to have a different point of view, and to provoke,” and she warns that “[i]f we allow acts like [the Charlie Hebdo shooting] to create a climate of fear, we will have lost our freedom.” For people like Satrapi, those who died at the Charles Hebdo offices sacrificed their lives for free speech.

But others are more careful about what kind of speech, art, and journalistic expression deserves to be defended, pointing out that younger generations have a more sophisticated understanding of the position of privilege from which such cartoonists launch their attacks. As 24-year-old Michigan cartoonist Jacob Canfield points out, Charlie Hebdo’s “white editorial staff” members were not simply free-speech martyrs but frequent, deliberate peddlers of “a certain, virulently racist brand of French xenophobia.” Acknowledging the indefensibility of violent attacks on dissenters, he says that “[i]n the face of a really horrible attack on free speech, it’s important that we don’t blindly disseminate super-racist material”. One questions if there is any issue here about race, or rather appropriate anonymousquestioning of religious ideology.

As Universal Life Church ministers, we ought to defend the intellectual and artistic integrity of those who share different, sometimes highly contentious opinions. While feeling insulted is never, ever an excuse to retaliate with bloodshed, it is a good idea to re-examine the method by which we critique others’ belief systems. Rather than with the gun, we should respond with the pen; or, as Anonymous has vowed to attack crazed Islamic terrorist websites and social media accounts in revenge for the Charlie Hebdo murders in Paris.

What do you think?

Abdel Fattah el-SisiAbdel Fattah el-Sisi is on the right path. He and Pope Francis are calling for change in the doctrines and practices of Catholicism and Islam, respectively. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi argues that it is time for a revolution in interpretations of the faiths over the centuries. Notwithstanding, “Who am I to judge?” and “all people and animals are creations of God’s work,” says the popular Pope Francis.

Should we not take it one step further and pressure all religions to update their archaic, unprovable doctrines? Spirituality and faith are great for mankind, but statements to corral the masses into blind obedience and violence on the behalf of any deity needs to be removed from teachings. There are those in our society that question why any so-called religion is exempt from bigotry and discrimination, allowed to sell and receive property and operate without paying taxes for programs that are antithetical to social reform and equality. In essence, why can religion benefit from a modern society while hindering its progress and evolution in the 21st century of mankind?

What do you think?

Sources:

BBC News

The Huffington Post

The New York Times

73 comments

  1. Richard K Sellars says:

    Free speech means saying your peace without the necessity of others agreeing with you.

    1. karen says:

      it is interesting that it is not only this show of terrorism that the world faces today. What is terrorism
      but someone who demands another or others to believe or live as another demands that it must be so at any cost. So we have those that say you must believe as I do or we kill you or I want your land you do not belong here I will kill you, you are not born like me I will kill you or persecute you. These are timeless crimes again ones own and others . I see clearly now that the new one if we don’t get those oil rigs off California we will use these weather machines and alter the weather or water. for those who know that this is not climate change but weather control as a business statement I should tell you that we are all connected is every way. that means that what is beyond is as affecting as what you think. it is put out there as an act of terrorism to control.
      life is wasted today as we destroy so much in wasted use
      we are out of control

  2. Craig P says:

    It is absolutely ludicrous to suggest that free speech need be curtailed by suggesting it is a ” good idea to re-examine the method by which we critique others’ belief systems.” That would require speech codes and have the government dictating what is allowed speech and what is not. It is also ludicrous to suggest that a satirist who one day mocks a Christian somehow becomes “super-racist” when they next mock Islam. If there were indeed any sophistication to the younger generation regarding free speech it wouldn’t be expressed by selectively damning some for daring being born white in France. Did this magazine only mock people of color? No! Did they only mock Islam? No!

  3. christine101070 says:

    I agree, that it is time for a revolution in interpretations of the faiths,that it is time for a revolution in interpretations of the faiths by each of us individually. Spirituality and faith are great for mankind, but statements to corral the masses into blind obedience and violence on the behalf of any deity needs to be removed from teachings. We have evolved and so should any teachings, after all the world is round. Get with the times…

  4. Christine Wrobel says:

    I don’t watch the television often and this post is one of the reasons why… I bet this wasn’t even on the local news.
    I agree, that it is time for a revolution in interpretations of the faiths,that it is time for a revolution in interpretations of the faiths by each of us individually. Spirituality and faith are great for mankind, but statements to corral the masses into blind obedience and violence on the behalf of any deity needs to be removed from teachings. We have evolved and so should any teachings, after all the world is round. Get with the times…

  5. Pat Stroup says:

    There has always been objectors to others opinions and at times, resulted in ending life. Jesus was put to death for His teachings and years later Crusaders killed the so called “pagans.” We have rights, we also have responsibilities. During elections, we are flooded with lie after lie about candidates and that too is covered under freedom of speech. There is something very immoral about that. Some of the music in the world is offensive to women and yet again, covered under freedom of expression. Somehow the responsibility to others got lost I think.

  6. OurBroker says:

    In 1803 St. George Tucker of Williamsburg wrote “liberty of conscience in matters of religion consists in the absolute and unrestrained exercise of our religious opinions, and duties, in that mode which our own reason and conviction dictate, without the control or intervention of any human power or authority whatsoever.”

    He’s still right

  7. Kevin Zurrin says:

    When the world is sufficiently horrified by the murders committed by extremists who use their religious beliefs to justify killing innocent people who simply express their opinion, then perhaps this world will begin to stand against any abhorrent behaviors committed in the name of any God or prophet.

    1. Brother John says:

      Excellent point Kevin! Gandhi and Dr. King’s non-violent marches into the batons and guns of authority eventually uncovered their humanity, which had been buried by state programming. Hopefully we can accomplish this by simply exposing the brutality, violence and hatred programmed into the population by the state and church over the centuries and remember that God created us all. My God and his or her believers bless the whole world, no exceptions.

      1. Charles Lee says:

        God bless you Brother John.

  8. jmhaselier says:

    This is a controversial subject to comment on or even decide which side of the fence I’m falling on. I believe in freedom of speech and that allows for some dubious argument as to how far one should push the envelope before it’s considered defamation. There has been religious and political satire published for hundreds of years and inevitably someone will object, however we have a choice, same as any publication, as to whether we read it or not.

    1. Richard Carnes says:

      How can we be sure he was not hired Just to do what he did. So the freedom of speech could be revoked or weakened. Some people think they have nothing to live for. These people can be bought, others can be threatened, or intimidated by other means. Don’t be surprised if later a company or American citizen or company is threatened or killed in order to get us outraged in order to get us into another war. Wars help rich people get richer. Please remember if they have a company in a foreign country they are not are responsibility. A big mistake is for anyone to react and take action over just a few people. To sign away our freedom. How about homeland security. Passing bills that people can be incarcerated without trial. Take away our voting rights. We in Florida will never be able to have an honest election again until they remove electronic voting machines and return to paper ballets. Nothing can be verified without a paper trail. If people want to get outraged do it over something that is important. Our freedoms. How can we have freedom when we have our elected officials are not representing the people. Having laws that were based on lies and knowing this do not go back and remove them. Closing down the only lead mine so we do not have access to bullets. Buying up so many bullets that are not needed (hopefully). Not following our own Constitution of the United States. Believing that anything that GOD or whoever you believe in, made could be illegal. That we can allow our brothers and sisters starve and become homeless. take away our children’s future. The president allowed to make any kind of law unchecked. Bypassing congress, and congress just standing by and taking it. They wanted to impeach Bill Clinton for being promiscuous. To make it where people do not have the right to determine what they can or cannot do with their own bodies. Just to name a few. To allow the police to confiscate house cars without charging anyone with a crime. This is what is illegal. That is called taking a bribe. Placing people in jail with outrageous sentences for doing drugs but allowing the people on wall street and banks to walk free. Allowing the drug manufactures to control are health and never curing anything for many years. They should be able to cure anything. They know the complete DNA STRING. Allowing the rich to monopolize allowing them to control all the prices. Allowing drugs that can possibly help you to stop smoking with the possible side affect of death on the market and saying Marijuana is illegal because can make black men rape white women. Or has never been used for medicine. It help people with caner Check out some of the things that are happening in the states where it is legal. Deaths from drugs are down. The things that made America great is failing fast. We now have another cold war. We allow the inventions of things like using water to run are vehicles to be patented and never used for the people. The law that said all cars should be able to get 70 miles per gal. To be revoked. While cracking the earth’s core polluting our waters and endangering all of us. Trying to confiscate all our guns making us vulnerable to attack. using the United Nations as a front. Trying to create a New World Order. This is just the tip of the iceberg. These are what we should be outraged about. I believe we should only do what s right. Help our brothers and sisters all we can. Get this country back on the right track

  9. David torres says:

    While I agree with tolerance, I get tired of us tiptoeing around the fact that Islam by nature is a violent religion. It has been a violent religion for centuries, and there is no reason to believe that will change…ever. Their goal is to rid the world of anyone not believing in islam. Period. So, stop with the psycho babble dancing around the issue that islam is simply a violent religion. Get your heads out of the sand and wake up.

    1. sheilabryant1 says:

      All religions have been at one time or another. Jesus healed the ear of the Roman guard that Peter ( I believe cut off). For he was willing to defend Jesus to the death. Jesus healed the Roman soldiers ear and that should have been an example for us all. Yet, we see the Crusades. I am sure that non-Christians living at that time felt the same way as many do now about Islam.

    2. Charles Lee says:

      It seems MR Torres that you are neglecting a couple of things. One of the police officers slain at Charlie Hebdo was Muslim. Also one of the heroes of the day – who helped people hide and saved their lives – was a Muslim. Your viewpoint is part of the problem. It is sheer bigotry with the inability to see things objectively. I am sure the hundreds of Blacks who were lynched in the South portion of the United States by Southern Baptists would have the same opinion of Christianity.

    3. Ray Javu says:

      There is no religion more violent than Christianity. Just look at the Spanish inquisition or the genocide of the American settlers and their doctrine of divine providence.

    4. Brother John says:

      Self imposed ignorance such as yours, David, is the key to the racism and hatred that keeps the business of war rolling. The root of all of today’s Islamaphobia was 9/11, a staged event much more horrific than what happened in Paris. In addition to the millions of “conspiracy theorists”, there are thousands of credentialed people, including architects, engineers, along with high ranking military and political officials who are not only calling for an independent investigation, but believe that three buildings feel straight down due to controlled demolition on 9/11. I encourage you to pull you own head out of the sand and realize you’re being played for a fool. You can start at ReThink911.org and go from there. You may also want to consider that Christianity brought the world the Dark Ages, the Inquisition, the Crusades, the Holocaust (Germany was almost entirely Catholic and Protestant in the 1930’s) and much more. And of course the many barbaric laws attributed to God such as stoning adulterers and disobedient children to death, how to treat your slaves etc. The Bible also calls for the elimination of non-believers and those that are missed are to burn in eternal Hell. On the bright side, God didn’t say any of this. The men whose dreams and visions comprise most of the Bible’s Old Testament supposedly said it. When simple faith and belief becomes unfettered delusion, very bad things happen to humanity. Perhaps you should take yours elsewhere, we’re trying to have intelligent and meaningful conversations in this forum.

  10. lisa moore says:

    I agree with Mr. Torres, God bless him for speaking truthfully.

    1. Mavis says:

      When you point your finger at someone, remember there are three more pointing back at you. The history of all religions shows that individual adherents have tried to justify their violence to non-believers or those they consider worthless by claiming justification through a deliberately selective interpretation of scripture. As humans we all have the capacity for violence towards another by word or by deed, if we surrender to it no matter what our religion is, or how we choose to express our faith in a happier human destiny with the divine. The individuals responsible were arguably choosing to believe something destructive rather than having faith in this. They were acting as Islamists – those who justify their right to violence and political dominance by choosing selectively from the tenets of Islam, rather than acting in a Islamic way. There is a big difference between the two. No religion is immune from this complexity, because as human we struggle. We all walk in the valley of the shadow of death, and faith is the rod and staff that comforts us in this dark hour. Islamist terror can only be stopped through holding fast to faith, and acting accordingly with love and justice to all. So pray for all to find peace: ourselves, those who love us, and those who hate us. And campaign for an equitable resolution to the Middle East conflict. God Bless You all, Brothers and Sisters.williams.

  11. supervisorgeorgedavis says:

    There is a world of difference between sharp provocative satire meant to provoke people into thinking and the blind obedience to one dimension.

  12. Rick says:

    Well, you have to look at Islam for what it is; A political cult. From another view; Violent plagiarists. That is, borrowed material (Old and New testaments) .sprinkled with its own far out dated ideology. And you think of the places where Islam is dominate, it is either at constant civil war or displays a facade of peace behind a curtain of obscene human rights violations. (I.e.: Saudi Arabia and Southeast Asia) And if you look at other religious texts, they are sprinkled with violence, but Islam seems to be the only one promoting it on an ongoing basis,

    1. Colleen Weikel says:

      You also have to look at the mob mentality of those radicals. There is as much chance of changing their minds or beliefs as there is for the earth to reverse its direction of revolution around the sun. They’re like sheep. If one sheep leaps off of a cliff to its death, the following sheep will do the same. People need to learn to think for themselves.

      1. Karim Aref says:

        The irony of this statement is that you’re exposing yourself as a sheep, willing to blindly leap off a cliff with the others yourself. Islam is NOT “inherently a violent religion,” no more so than Christianity our Judaism. Extremism is inherently violent. Stop assuming that these idiots represent the majority of those practicing Islam.

        1. Colleen Weikel says:

          I’m only talking about the extremists. Not the majority of people who practice Islam. Sorry I didn’t make that clear.

      2. Brother John says:

        Agreed Colleen. In order for some people to start thinking for themselves, the religious dogma of all religions (certainly including Christianity) needs to be extinguished by rational, intelligent and secular morality.

    2. Richard carnes says:

      Are you sure or is it just propaganda I mean most of our media is controlled by just a few. It used to be a person could only own 1 media company. But now we have just a few controlling it all.

    3. Brother John says:

      I guess you haven’t been keeping up with current events Rick. The current “Global War on Terror” was started and is being carried out by the principally Christian West. I’m not sure where you live, but I’d guess that there are no foreign troops, bombs dropping, and innocent people being slaughtered in your neighbourhood. I’d further guess that you’ve never read the Koran yourself, but simply believe what you’ve been told. FYI what’s called the Bible is just a rehashing of the myths and folk tales that preceded it, then “revised” by men who wanted the obedience and control of the masses. Thankfully we’re well out of the Dark Ages, but unfortunately there are still many who think medievally.

  13. Lea Weisenbach says:

    We should look at religion as a whole. All religions have a violent side when we question the ego. This is all about greed..

    1. Robert Owen says:

      I’m sorry but your comment makes no sense. Most modern religions do not promulgate violence. Islam does. I have read the Quran and seen the instructions from Allah requiring violent and coercive actions against the infidel. I know of no other religion that proselytizes at the point of a sword, justifies honor killings, and treats women worse than farm animals. Greed doesn’t enter into it at all.

      1. Brother John says:

        I guess you haven’t read the Bible then Robert, although it’s not a “modern religion” either. Here are a couple of verses to get you started, but I warn you, it’s pretty gruesome. I’m not sure how you define violence, but these would surely fit any sane person’s definition.

        If your own full brother, or your son or daughter, or your beloved wife, or you intimate friend, entices you secretly to serve other gods, whom you and your fathers have not known, gods of any other nations, near at hand or far away, from one end of the earth to the other: do not yield to him or listen to him, nor look with pity upon him, to spare or shield him, but kill him. Your hand shall be the first raised to slay him; the rest of the people shall join in with you. You shall stone him to death, because he sought to lead you astray from the Lord, your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that place of slavery. And all Israel, hearing of this, shall fear and never do such evil as this in your midst. (Deuteronomy 13:7-12 NAB)

        Whoever strikes his father or mother shall be put to death. (Exodus 21:15 NAB)

        Anyone arrogant enough to reject the verdict of the judge or of the priest who represents the LORD your God must be put to death. Such evil must be purged from Israel. (Deuteronomy 17:12 NLT)

        When a man strikes his male or female slave with a rod so hard that the slave dies under his hand, he shall be punished. If, however, the slave survives for a day or two, he is not to be punished, since the slave is his own property. (Exodus 21:20-21 NAB)

        If a man commits adultery with another man’s wife, both the man and the woman must be put to death. (Leviticus 20:10 NLT)

        They entered into a covenant to seek the Lord, the God of their fathers, with all their heart and soul; and everyone who would not seek the Lord, the God of Israel, was to be put to death, whether small or great, whether man or woman. (2 Chronicles 15:12-13 NAB)

        But if this charge is true (that she wasn’t a virgin on her wedding night), and evidence of the girls virginity is not found, they shall bring the girl to the entrance of her fathers house and there her townsman shall stone her to death, because she committed a crime against Israel by her unchasteness in her father’s house. Thus shall you purge the evil from your midst. (Deuteronomy 22:20-21 NAB)

  14. Sahar says:

    As a muslim, I condemn all kind of violence. I also uphold the right of the humorist to express himself freely and safely. I send my deep sympathy and prayers to the families of the victims, one of them a muslim policeman.The perpetrators are criminals and do not represent me or the 1.2 billion Muslims on the planet. I think that it is time for the silent majority of non violent muslim to speak up and actively fight against vilolent radical Islam. There isn’t one Islam, but multiple Islamic countries with different traditions and interpretation of the religion, most of these countries are modernized and do not live violently. Radical Islam is a disease that also affects other muslims. These terrorists thrive on the idea that they are the heroes representing Islam. Please don’t give them this satisfaction.

    1. sheilabryant1 says:

      Well said Sahar. Thank you for your words of enlightenment.

    2. Brother John says:

      Wise words, my brother. I was not able to resist pointing out the utter hypocrisy of some fundamentalist and ill informed Christians in my reply to Robert just above yours, as you have done here. Peace be with us all.

  15. Aya says:

    Would you say that Jewish religion is violent? Where’s the peace with the Palestinians?

    1. Kevin Zurrin says:

      How can the Jewish people make peace with a country that declares war (jihad) and swears to remove their people from the face of the earth simply because they are jews?

      1. Wyatt lee johnson says:

        Palistine or Iran never made that statement. What was really said was basically about the israili government disappearing. The Zionist not israil are commiting apartheid on the Palestinians. This has nothing to do with the post anyway.

  16. Sahar says:

    As a muslim, the only criticism I can direct is towards my own actions and the actions made in the name of my religion. I am not Jewish, it is not my place to criticize Jewish people and their faith. The Israeli Palestinian issue is a geopolitical conflict that involves palestinians and Israeli, it is not my place to comment on that for this particular event. I am personally against all violence directed towards innocent people. However, you are more than free to read the old testament, and discover for yourself the very peaceful events leading to the creation of the old Israel. Personally, I think that all scriptures preached both, peace and justification of war and violence. Ehat men do is on them, not on the religion. In my native country, jews and Muslims live in peace. All the muslims you know ate the ones committing acts of terrorism, of course you see muslims as retarded and violent.

  17. Randy says:

    Yes Islam has some violent teachings, just as Christianity, Judism, and others. To condemn all who practice Islam, even those that have reached a level awareness that the violent teachings are not in harmony with a spiritual practice, I don’t think is fair. I think it’s ok to point out violent teachings are created from the minds man under the influence of ego, and are not acceptable under any circumstance, religious, patriotic, racial, anything. We can still be compassionate and accepting of people that choose to practice any religion, and at the same time speak out and not accept any form of violence, racism, or bigotry.

  18. JO-ANN says:

    WHO IS THE BULLY…REALLY?????? ONE COULD SAY THAT THE ISLAMS WHO REACTED TO THE BULLYING OF THE SATORIC JOURNALIST WERE TO EASILY OFFENDED….AND, SHOULD JUST TOUGHTEN UP A BIT AS SHOULD THE NORTH KOREAN LEADER…….
    I WONDER …WHAT ARE WE ALLOWING TO BE TAUGHT TO THE MASSES…BEGINNING WITH OUR CHILDREN….ARE WE NOT TRYING TO TEACH OUR CHILDREN TO BE KIND….NOT TO SAY MEAN THINGS ABOUT ANOTHER….NOT TO BULLY ANOTHER?????? BY COMMENTS ABOUT HIS CHOICES….THAT BEING SAID…THERE ARE OF COURSE IN ALL RELIGIONS AND RACES THOSE THAT ARE FILLED TO THE RIM WITH THE ENEMY AND ACT OUT HIS COMMANDS OF KILLING AND HATRED….THAT IS A GIVEN
    BUT, JUST MAYBE THE HEALING FOR OUR PLANET COULD START WITH A FEW I’M SORRYS AND FORGIVENESS….. NO WAY JUSTIFING ANY MURDEROUS ACTS….BUT, WHERE ARE WE SUPPOSE TO BEGIN TO BRING PEACE …IS THIS NOT SOMETHING THAT WE ARE SUPPOSE TO BE TRYING TO DO??? SPREAD THE LIGHT OF OUR CREATOR IN THESE DAYS! WHAT IS COMMON DECENCY AND ARE WE SO CONFUSED AS A WHOLE THAT WE CAN’T FIGURE THIS OUT!

    1. Brother John says:

      You don’t need to shout Jo-Ann. And I believe they are referred to as “Muslims”, not “the Islams”, although as a few people have pointed out, they are a fanatical fringe of Islam and do not represent the Muslim faith anymore than fanatical Christians represent Christianity.

  19. doug finley says:

    Fanaticism in ANY form is unhealthy and often times detrimental to whatever message a person or group of persons are attempting to convey. For more years than I’ve been alive, other governments, religions, individuals, and publications have been taking “potshots” at my God and even though it has personally offended me, it does not give me the right to pick up a gun and murder anyone because of it. The rights of each individual to believe as they choose, speak freely as they wish, and answer to their own God for their actions are being threatened by Islamic extremist and needs to be stopped. Islamic religious fanatics that use murder to broadcast “their” message of “faith” are a cancer that needs to be eradicated.

    1. Brother John says:

      Apparently your God does give you that right and much more doug.

      Suppose you hear in one of the towns the LORD your God is giving you that some worthless rabble among you have led their fellow citizens astray by encouraging them to worship foreign gods. In such cases, you must examine the facts carefully. If you find it is true and can prove that such a detestable act has occurred among you, you must attack that town and completely destroy all its inhabitants, as well as all the livestock. Then you must pile all the plunder in the middle of the street and burn it. Put the entire town to the torch as a burnt offering to the LORD your God. That town must remain a ruin forever; it may never be rebuilt. Keep none of the plunder that has been set apart for destruction. Then the LORD will turn from his fierce anger and be merciful to you. He will have compassion on you and make you a great nation, just as he solemnly promised your ancestors. “The LORD your God will be merciful only if you obey him and keep all the commands I am giving you today, doing what is pleasing to him.” (Deuteronomy 13:13-19 NLT)

  20. Kay Lee says:

    Before any more hatred is stirred up, you should probably read this article “All Terrorists are Muslim – Except the 99.6% who are not: http://www.loonwatch.com/2010/01/terrorism-in-europe/ And another article that states those men in Paris are not muslim. Terrorism has nothing to do with Islam. I’m not Muslim but when my government and their owned media begin demonizing people I do research for the truth. Everyone should because they do it very often.

    1. Brother John says:

      Thank you for injecting some civility and common sense, Kay. Perhaps some commenters don’t realize the ULC is promoting compassion and understanding, not hatred and ignorance.

  21. Karim Aref says:

    Having reviewed your comment, I feel I owe an apology. I see now that the mob mentality you spoke of might be in reference to the radical elements. If so, please accept my apologies for misunderstanding.

    1. Colleen Weikel says:

      That is what I tried, apparently badly, to say. I know that the majority of people who practice Islam are not violent radicals and I wasn’t trying to say that they were. My apologies to you. No hard feelings.

  22. frank says:

    Religion is not the genesis of violence, it is the excuse. We were given the gift of FREE WILL. What we have done with it is the true crime. No one is innocent.

  23. red schrum says:

    Let’s just imagine that those fellows are going to be really surprised by where they wake up.

  24. roger says:

    Paths are many, truth is one.
    There are many ways to choose
    how we climb the mountain. Pick
    a path that fulfills your taste and
    temperament.
    Honor the God in all that they are doing
    their best to find that peace in spite of
    human ego driven distortions of mindless
    that impede their spiritual journey.
    On Shanti

  25. Wyatt lee johnson says:

    Ok, here it is. LOVE y’all. That’s my religion and to me god is love. Jesus told us we do not have to live the Old Testament way any longer. We are free, we are all god. Did not Jesus say we can all do what he did. All he did was love and teach love. I do not pay attention to the rest of the bible, just what Jesus said and if he did not say it they are good words to live and grow. Having said that, my intention is to love these people. Jesus said love your enemies. There is a minority of Muslims like these fellas, besides I feel that this was a false flag operation staged by the CIA. Love is the answer folks. Everybody get naked!

  26. Michael Clark says:

    To place so much attention on the tragedy in Paris to me over shadow the ministry main purpose and that to teach or not persuade others what to think and by no means call for action that goes against it doctrine. The actions of extremist groups does not represent the religious beliefs or their own doctrine. Communication of Islamic leadership should be at the forefront of spiritual truth not the world at large. The actions in Africa, Middle east as well as the rest of the world is more tragic than freedom of speech whether religious or not. All such actions goes against all religious doctrine. Man has already determined or most have that God can not help. But I say unto now Gods hand moves when good men determines inhuman actions is not sovereign nor show it be allowed. The color of ones skins is not God’s concern, but man has place money, political satire and racism in any form to determine what is horrendous, know this God has no concern for the foolishness that man do, as He states in all doctrine “I am your salvation and has place you as caretakers. I don’t need to tell you how or why we are disobedient, for it is written in the heart of men, however long we allow these actions.We all shall be judged for what we do or did not do. Let us fear what is know for it can be controlled, fear not also what we say is unknown, for again God Will does not rest on the whelms of mankind. Its is His Love that sustain us and the Love written in the heart of mankind. Be still and understand the Word not just speak it from your mouth that others my be impress, this has been written.

    1. An American says:

      “The actions of extremist groups does not represent the religious beliefs or their own doctrine.”
      You have obviously not read the Koran and you are displaying your ignorance with that statement.

      1. Brother John says:

        I assume this means you have read the Koran Mr. American. Scroll up to see my reply to Robert’s Jan. 13 post, which I would apply to yours as well.

  27. Tammy Whitley says:

    The initial question you pose is separate from your final query.
    “How should Universal Life Church ministers respond when people are murdered for insulting the religious sensibilities of radical jihadist Muslims terrorist?”
    Let’s break that down and simplify it to: “How should we respond when people are murdered?” (for insulting terrorists)
    The same way we would to any instance of murder: It is wrong. Regardless of the reason.
    To take another person’s life is the ultimate violation of all rights.
    As a minister, I am appalled at the actions taken by these terrorists.

    “why can religion benefit from a modern society while hindering its progress and evolution in the 21st century of mankind?”
    In a modern society, religion should be able to express itself without harming anyone or impeding on the rights of others. As a minister, I am aghast at the actions taken in the name of religion.

    Free speech should allow for freedom of expression, as long as it harms no one. We live in a modern, civilized (lawful) society. Expressing oneself via journalism is quite different from expressing oneself via murder.
    That is this minister’s take on it.

    1. Brother John says:

      Amen Tammy! I’ve noticed that a number of mainstream churches have “corrected” the commandment about not killing to not murdering, stating that there are killings that are “justified”. I’ve recently asked the churches, ministers, pastors, etc. in our area to publicly state their positions about killing/murdering.

  28. Geoff says:

    The issue is not that of murder. Savage murderers of all religions and none have existed throughout history. When a madman like Hitler rises and commits unspeakable horrors the whole does not condemn every German. Today, apart from a minority of neo-fascists, Germans are respected and are part of the civilized world. Murderers must continue to be sought out, put on trial and punished appropriately. The vast marjority of Moslems are saying “not in our name” and are as horrified as the rest of humanity at the actions of the few that perform these inhuman deeds. These people are not following any sane reasoning if they believe that murder is a responsible method of combating criticism of Islam. Nobody in their right mind would become a Moslem because of their example.

    1. Craig P says:

      The problem is that when surveys have been taken it showed that nothing like a vast majority of Muslims were against events like 9/11 and in quite a few countries a majority supported those actions. This issue is not so black and white. I certainly don’t think those silent supporters are terrorist but the fact remains we see in history that the majority of Germans were indeed convinced that Hitler was correct, just as unfortunately far too many Muslims have been hoodwinked into supporting violent jihad.

      1. Brother John says:

        Don’t forget that millions of people, many of them Christians, were “hoodwinked” into believing Muslims caused the three building to collapse on 9/11, which lit the fuse for the current Islamaphobia and GWOT, Craig. Visit the website ReThink911.org to find out why so many credentialed and respected professionals believe it was controlled demolition, not planes that brought the buildings down, particularly Bldg. 3 which wasn’t even hit by a plane.

  29. rev vrroland says:

    we have to be careful when we discuss religious topics, some people are thin skinned people, they believe that theirs are the only true faith, and it should not be made fun of, because the truth is we all have freedom of speech that is our god given right, whether people want us to have it our not, love and faith in the living god is the key, god alone is the judge &jury.

    1. JO-ANN says:

      WHILE IT IS TRUE THAT WE ALL HAVE FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND IT IS OUR GOD GIVEN RIGHT…..WOULD JESUS HAVE WORKED AT CHARLIE HEBDO OR EVER WRITTEN SUCH EXPLOSIVE BASED COMEDY… WHEN IS ENOUGH ENOUGH AND ….. WHEN HAS ONE CROSSED THE LINE OF COMMON DECENCY TOWARD ANOTHER HUMAN BEING..FREEDOM OF SPEECH IS THE RIGHT TO SAY YOU LIKE THE BUS INSTEAD OF THE TRAIN…ETC….NOT USED TO
      DECIMATE AND BRING SUCH DISHONOR TO ANOTHER PERSON OR ORGANIZATION OF ANY KIND…..DON’T YOU THINK THAT IS WHAT FREEDOM OF SPEECH WAS DESIGNED TO DO IN THE FIRST PLACE…..I HAVE THE FREEDOM TO SAY I LIKE BLUE NOT YELLOW….YOU MY FRIEND MAY LIKE YELLOW….GO FOR IT…..FREEDON OF SPEECH DOES NOT GIVE ME THE MORAL RIGHT TO HUMILIATE ANOTHER ….AND EVOKE SUCH ANGER AS TO MAKE HIM KILL OTHERS OR HIMSELF AND TO THE TEENAGERS THAT ARE GETTING BULLIED IN SCHOOLS…….THATS JUST MEAN SPIRITED AND WRONG ….. WE KNOW WHERE THAT COMES FROM…DON’T WE??

  30. MAel says:

    Hi,

    I’m french and I must confess I never buy Charlie Hebdo.
    I must also inform the readers that Charlie Hebdo is not racist but religiophobe and “radical atheist”. The most favorit target of Charlie Hebdo is usually the pope and the catholic church. This news paper is radical leftist. I think it is wrong to say that criticism of religion is racism. Religion is a way of thinking and not a race.

    Charlie Hebdo often depict the pope and the catholics as pedophile.

    The question about free speech vs respect of people’s faith is not easy, but in case of Charlie Hebdo it is certainly not a mater of racism. Jacob Canfield should try to get more information before speaking

    1. Rev. Tammy Whitley says:

      Congratulations, MAel, for cutting to the heart of this matter.
      If you do not like what the newspaper/magazine publishes, then you do not buy it, you do not support it. You do not commit murder because of some written words.
      You are also correct in that religion cannot itself be racist. Some aspects of certain religions may become racist in their attitudes, however.
      Freedom of speech and freedom of religion should go hand in hand, not be one or the other. Thank you for your input.
      I personally feel this article was just to rile people up. There can be no justification for the acts of terrorism taken towards those people. My heart goes out to their families and friends.
      I am also scared by some of the replies posted here. It is refreshing to read one which makes sense.

  31. Richard carnes says:

    I’m sorry I left a reply. This was not directed towards anyone and I hope it was not taken badly. I should have left a comment so I will. This is it.
    How can we be sure he was not hired Just to do what he did. So the freedom of speech could be revoked or weakened. Some people think they have nothing to live for. These people can be bought, others can be threatened, or intimidated by other means. Don’t be surprised if later a company or American citizen or company is threatened or killed in order to get us outraged in order to get us into another war. Wars help rich people get richer. Please remember if they have a company in a foreign country they are not are responsibility. A big mistake is for anyone to react and take action over just a few people. To sign away our freedom. How about homeland security. Passing bills that people can be incarcerated without trial. Take away our voting rights. We in Florida will never be able to have an honest election again until they remove electronic voting machines and return to paper ballets. Nothing can be verified without a paper trail. If people want to get outraged do it over something that is important. Our freedoms. How can we have freedom when we have our elected officials are not representing the people. Having laws that were based on lies and knowing this do not go back and remove them. Closing down the only lead mine so we do not have access to bullets. Buying up so many bullets that are not needed (hopefully). Not following our own Constitution of the United States. Believing that anything that GOD or whoever you believe in, made could be illegal. That we can allow our brothers and sisters starve and become homeless. take away our children’s future. The president allowed to make any kind of law unchecked. Bypassing congress, and congress just standing by and taking it. They wanted to impeach Bill Clinton for being promiscuous. To make it where people do not have the right to determine what they can or cannot do with their own bodies. Just to name a few. To allow the police to confiscate house cars without charging anyone with a crime. This is what is illegal. That is called taking a bribe. Placing people in jail with outrageous sentences for doing drugs but allowing the people on wall street and banks to walk free. Allowing the drug manufactures to control are health and never curing anything for many years. They should be able to cure anything. They know the complete DNA STRING. Allowing the rich to monopolize allowing them to control all the prices. Allowing drugs that can possibly help you to stop smoking with the possible side affect of death on the market and saying Marijuana is illegal because can make black men rape white women. Or has never been used for medicine. It help people with caner Check out some of the things that are happening in the states where it is legal. Deaths from drugs are down. The things that made America great is failing fast. We now have another cold war. We allow the inventions of things like using water to run are vehicles to be patented and never used for the people. The law that said all cars should be able to get 70 miles per gal. To be revoked. While cracking the earth’s core polluting our waters and endangering all of us. Trying to confiscate all our guns making us vulnerable to attack. using the United Nations as a front. Trying to create a New World Order. This is just the tip of the iceberg. These are what we should be outraged about. I believe we should only do what s right. Help our brothers and sisters all we can. Get this country back on the right track

  32. Joelle L. says:

    I am totally for free speech. But as a former French citizen I never liked Charlie Hebdo because it was vulgar.
    I am pro peace and against anything that offends my fellow human beings. Why offend Muslims? or Christians? or anyone else! it is simple courtesy.
    RESPECT each other beliefs.
    Religious wars have existed as long as we have been on Earth. Now we just started another one called Muslim Radical Terrorists. To make it worse, thousands of mentally deranged and/or young people without goals in life are joining. How sad…

    1. Brother John says:

      Hi Joelle… Due to the widespread beliefs that promote racism, nationalism and blind patriotism and their resulting war and hatred, I’m not totally for free speech. It’s our duty as educated, spiritual humans, sharing the planet with billions of others, to denounce anything and everything that promotes hatred and the slaughter of others.

      Not all beliefs are worthy of respect when they result in harm to others. The Global War on Terror is based on false beliefs and many of the young radicals you refer to are the result of unjustified violence rained down on them, their homelands and their families. I agree that we (the West) started it and also that it is sad… very sad.

  33. Stella says:

    Satire has always offended someone. It is in some ways the beacon of free speech. Where does one draw the line? I don’t believe a line should be drawn. Satire teaches tolerance and humor (laughing at one’s self) if nothing else. Charlie Hebdo insults everyone – the Pope, Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddha, etc. I have been reading a lot of different viewpoints on this issue – mainly in CounterPunch – which I highly recommend. My personal opinion is murder is never the answer to any problem – especially being offended by a cartoon. When atheists see a Christian creche in front of a government building they sue the organization that placed it there – they don’t blow up their building. I think it is wrong to tip toe around Muslims and their Prophet; I think its wrong to tip toe around Christians and their God and Jesus; etc. If one begins to draw that line where does it stop? I also don’t believe all Muslims and the religion of Islam are inherently violent. That belief is pure racism. A recent article in CounterPunch listed the atrocities committed by Muslims and those committed by Christians throughout history – the Christians win hands down. Does that mean all Christians today are inherently violent? Of course not. I understand what breeds terrorism. Many Muslims are fed up with US imperialism; the invasion of their countries; the removal of elected officials replaced with despots anointed by the US. Many are angry, frustrated, hopeless, and outraged. I understand that. But there are better ways to bring about change than murdering civilians. And I do believe the US in particular is using Islam as a scapegoat to further its agenda in the Middle East. Saudi Arabia is the largest practitioner of Wahhabi Islam – the type practiced by the terrorists. Yet they are our strongest ally in the Middle East (along with Israel). Why can’t Americans see the political angle to all of this? The US picks and chooses its allies based on what’s in it for us – largely based on greed. So we look the other way at Saudi Arabia’s abhorrent government while declaring war on terrorists, because they have oil that we want. The US throughout its history has conducted despicable wars and invasions supporting people like Pinochet when it suits the US agenda. The current situation is no different. Folks may have forgotten that Iran elected a moderate western leader in the 70’s and the US took him out and replaced him with a radical because it supported US interests at the time. You can see how that decision has played out. The US is culpable in much of the misery of the world and Americans need to acknowledge it and demand change and quit blaming everyone else for terrorists. If we are fair and honest we must admit that US actions often breed terrorism.

    1. JO-ANN says:

      WE DO HAVE A CHOICE… GOD OR THE ENEMY…WITH THAT CHOICE IS THE RESPONCIBILITY OF OF BEING ABOUT OUR FATHER’S BUSINESS…AND DRAWING THE LINE FOR HIM…..THE LINE OF DECENCY AND RESPECT FOR OTHERS…….IN RAISING A CHILD…YOU WOULD NOT LET HIM OR HER SAY THINGS THAT WOULD INSULT ANOTHER…THEY WOULD BE IN TIME OUT……THATS A LINE YOU DRAW…AS A PARENT….YOU WOULD NOT WANT HIM OR HER TO GROW UP BEING EXPOSED TO NEGATIVITY…..YOU MUST DRAW THE LINE AT WHAT A CHILD CAN WATCH….READ…ASSOCIATE WITH….TO RAISE A CHILD OF THE MOST HIGH GOD….THIS IS THE PATH YOU WANT… FOR SOCIETY AS A WHOLE….WE…ON BEHALF OF OUR CREATOR MUST BE DRAWING THAT LINE …FOR THE ONES THAT DID NOT HAVE THE PARENTS TO DRAW THAT LINE OF DECENCY FOR THEM…I LOVE A GOOD JOKE AND SATIRE IS FUNNY…..LIKE SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE…ETC… THATS NOT THE ISSUE……WE ARE REPRESENTIVES OF GOD ON THIS EARTH……….. THE SIDE OF….HUMAN DECENCY AND LOVE TOWARD OUR FELLOW MAN…..IN A PERFECT WORLD….THIS WOULD BE EASY…RIGHT???BECAUSE NO-ONE WOULD TAKE IT TO FAR…….that causes outrage….or if they did they would have the decency to apologize…… BUT, LIKE THE REST OF YOUR WRITING POINTED OUT…..WE ARE FAR FROM A PERFECT WORLD! BUT AGAIN…..GOD STILL IS ON THE THRONE AND IN CONTROL! IT IS WRITTEN!

      1. Brother John says:

        Hi Jo-Ann… Please remember that using all caps is not only difficult to read, but bad netiquette. If “the enemy” you refer to is Islam, know that Allah means “the God”. Muslims are believers just as you are, not the enemy.

        The ULC’s credo is “We are all children of the same universe”. An important section of our mission statement is “We have made it our mission to actualize these tenets in the world by empowering millions of ministers, whether they come to us from a Christian, Buddhist, Muslim, Jewish, Catholic, Shinto, Agnostic, Atheist, Pagan, Wiccan, or Druid tradition, to speak their own truth to power.”

        It’s time for us to reclaim our humanity and replace the divisiveness and hatred we’ve been taught with love, understanding and acceptance. In a world full of ignorance, hatred and non-stop wars, we have the opportunity to shine the light of truth by accepting everyone as brothers and sisters sharing the planet.

    2. Brother John says:

      Thank you for your informed comment Stella. You made a number of excellent points. Mass belief has been used to control and command people for thousands of years and still works well today. Whether it’s religion, nationalism, patriotism or racism, it all comes down to enough people believing what is generally an outright lie about their superiority over others. The Islamaphobia that erupted after 9/11 and the start of the Global War on Terror is about control of resources and territory for profit. Religion is often the catalyst used to foment hatred for the people who occupy and defend their homelands from foreign invaders.

      The mix of religion, money and politics has been, and continues to be, a deadly brew that brings out the worst in humanity. Although almost 14 years have passed since the 9/11 fuse was lit, maybe we can encourage people to set aside their programming and do a little research. ReThink911.org is an excellent source. Thousands of professionals, including architects, engineers, military and government officials and others are calling for an immediate independent investigation. Many of them believe the three buildings were brought down by controlled demolition, not “Muslim extremists” in planes.

      Assuming this is the case, a number of countries were brutally attacked and hundreds of thousands of innocent people killed, based on an outrageous lie (as most wars have been). Everyone wants to believe they are right… the good guys… the defenders. But war always involves both aggressors and defenders. What’s badly needed is truth, honesty and compassion, not continued hatred, bigotry and bloodshed. Cognitive Dissonance is a very powerful barrier that protects false beliefs, particularly when they are deeply ingrained and widespread. But that doesn’t mean they can’t be exposed by the bright light of Truth, no matter how bitter it may taste.

  34. Mark says:

    To all you Islamic people that think killing will solve your problems.
    You are dead wrong. You are all children of Abraham ! You Moslem which means believers !”
    But so are we children of Abraham. From. Isaac !” and we are the children of the promised !”
    Also Believers !” we are brothers and sisters !” now how can you kill your brother. Even if he does not believe like you do you Will stand before God with your brothers blood on your hands!” is that what the prophet wanted no I do not see this in the quran or any of the holy scriptures and judgement is coming so dedicate your time to praying not killing !”

    1. Brother John says:

      Mark, please read both Stella’s and my comments above. We (the West) are the aggressors and invaders and have slaughtered hundreds of thousands of innocent people through the GWOT. Your advice to stop the killing needs to apply to all involved, not specifically Muslims.

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