“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”
This was a saying my father taught me early in life. As is often the case with quotations, it was not Voltaire’s actual words, but was attributed to him and does sum up his view. His real words were: “I detest what you write, but I would give my life to make it possible for you to continue to write.” How apt for a personal blog!
My father believed in freedom of speech and, even though he was agnostic, he also believed in the freedom to worship as one wished, regardless of being right or wrong. He went through what he called a ‘religious phase’ when he was younger, but that was it, as far as any faith was concerned, for him. Though he left me with a deep understanding of hypocrisy, which many see as when you ‘say one thing and do another,’ which is correct to a point. It can be defined in different ways. One of these could be summed up as: you cannot believe you have a right to do something but not extend that right to others.
A friend in my writers’ internet group, who lives in South Africa, highlighted a newspaper article from his locale that reported how there was opposition to the building of a mosque there. Objections included things like the extra noise and car parking, yet it would appear these objections were not raised as much when a nightclub was being proposed. Some feel that the basis of the objections are religious – a largely Christian community is not happy with the idea of a mosque in their neighborhood. It makes them uneasy and they can feel a sense of somehow ‘losing out’ to the growth or spread of Islam. There is a very valid point, that my friend beat me to stating: should I, a Christian, wish to move to another country, and I and my fellow Christians there manage to be able to need a building for our fellowship through growth in our numbers, would we not expect to be allowed to go ahead and build as we desire? Why would we not grant that right to those of another faith where WE live? Let us be clear in what scripture says about hypocrites:
“He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matt.24:51)
I might expect reaction to this along the lines of, say, that we are supposed to oppose falsehood in belief and other faiths, therefore we could not support the building of an Islamic mosque. However, I shall go back to what our Lord taught about loving our enemies (Matt.5:39-41).
As Christians, our greatest weapon is neither our doctrine nor our arguments; it is our love (1Cor.13; John 13:34-35; 15:12; Romans 12:10; 13:8; Eph.4:2; 5:2; 1Thess.3:12; 4:9; Heb.10:24; 1Jn.3:11, to cite just a few relevant verses).