Monday, 20 September 2010

Paranoid religious leaders (contd)

Meanwhile in Amritsar diocese, in the northern Punjab, Muslim mobs burnt a Christian-run school to the ground and were narrowly prevented from burning down a (Christian-run) hospital as well. This followed a TV programme broadcast from Iran showing copies of the Qur'an being burnt in the USA (though as I understand it, so-called 'Pastor' Jones didn't actually do this).

The village school at Tangmarg catered to over 500 students – all of them Muslims – drawn from 150 villages.

"They were protesting against Qur'an desecration and in the process, they burnt two Qur'ans kept at the library and the headmaster's room – reducing the entire school building to ashes. In the name of protest, they destroyed the school that educated their children," lamented Bishop Samantaroy. "Look at the irony."

Religious leaders need to weigh their words very carefully before airing their paranoia.

Friday, 17 September 2010

Paranoid religious leaders

This week's Oxford Times reports Dr Taj Hargey of the 'Oxford Islamic Congregation' criticising Christian leaders for failing to publicly condemn the threat of another obscure 'religious leader' (Terry Jones of Florida) to burn copies of the Qur'an. "Where were the loud denunciations from any prominent British religious figure, including those in Oxford?", he is reported as saying. "The deafening silence . . sends a chilling message to Britain's Muslims."

Well, there's none so blind as those who will not see. The Archbishop of Canterbury's annual Eid message - his greeting to Muslim communities in Britain - reads, "In this country there are those who speak maliciously about religion in general and often against Islam in particular; demonstrations in many of our cities are intended to provoke; and in other parts of the world the threat to desecrate scriptures is deeply deplorable and to be strongly condemned by all people."

What Mr Hargey seems to be saying is that the onus is on Christian leaders to reassure him continually and personally, and that if they don't he is entitled to feel threatened. I would have thought that as a religious leader it would be his job to find out what other religious leaders are saying. This is a kind of defensive and inward-looking religious leadership the world could do without. Little better than Terry Jones, in fact.