My goodness the hate mail has been flying around this past week. Lies, hate and bigotry are all alive and well in America, my friends, and for some reason, they’re congregating in my email in-box. I had to read through my spam box just to take a break from the nastiness in my in-box.
I don’t like to do this in my blog, but I want to take a few moments to talk about religion because, out of all the nastiness I received in my in-box, by far the most inaccurate and hateful messages were from the evangelical Christians in my life.
I was raised in an extremely conservative christian church by an extremely conservative family. It wasn’t until I became an adult and experienced other churches that I really began to understand that the term “God’s Love,” a term that was thrown around every day throughout my childhood, really is supposed to mean love. Fear ruled the day. Christians, I was taught, were supposed to be fearful, to live their lives in fear.
So let’s talk about fear, because most of the hate mail I’ve received this past week has been motivated by fear. Anytime a work is translated, including the bible, the translator has to make millions of decisions about which words to use. And words change meaning by their use over time. The word fear, for example, can be understood to mean respect (as in fear God), or it can be understood to mean the source of hate (as in fear everything you don’t understand). My belief is that fear, as commanded in the bible, is intended to mean fear-respect rather than fear-hate (check out I John, 4:18-21). The best way to counteract fear-hate is knowledge. Real knowledge, not just assumptions fueled by emotions. Do some research. Study the issues. Use real sources rather than the chain hate mail that lands in your in-box.
Two great quotes from early in the last century come to mind:
Muslims are not the source of evil in this world, the source of evil is the fear that resides in our own hearts.
So I’m asking you now: is your vote fueled by fear and hate, or is your vote fueled by compassion and knowledge? Vote your conscience, but ask yourself first: what rules your conscience? Do you have peace in your heart or fear? Do you have to lie to make your case? Do you avoid research because it causes you to question your decision? Do you get all of your information from others whose lives are ruled by fear and hate?
The definition of bigotry is fear based, unreasoning attachment to one’s own belief, with narrow-minded intolerance of differing beliefs. Let’s let go of fear and bigotry for a day, and give our minds and hearts a bit of a workout.