Saturday, February 04, 2006

Era of Religious Respect?

The use of "respect" rather than "tolerance" in the title is very important. They are not the same words, and can have very specific meanings. Toleration is often used as a blunt instrument that silences voices and forces acceptance with tyrannical consiquences. To respect something doesn't always mean accepting as of equal importance. Respect is why I feel it is right for the cartoons to run and it is right for the Mulsims to demostrate against them. At the same time, intolerance is the reason why I feel it is wrong for the cartoons to run and it is wrong for the Muslims to demonstrate. Respect is about accepting the existance and important of viewpoints. Tolerance is simply intolerance of particular viewpoints that aren't within the accepted norm of permissable discussion.

The Muslim outcry over blasphemous cartoons has created a discussion between freedom of expression and decourum, democracy and religious passion. It is a discussion that secularists have thought unworthy of consideration when it comes to Christians. For too long Western secularism, especially of the Hollywood kind, has treated Christian beliefs as childish at best and dangerous at worst. What has the Christian reaction been? A stimied, but gradually louder, voice of dissent.

Hopefully the demonstrations by vocal Muslims will energize religious people in the West to resist their own beliefs getting brutalized. The problem is that Muslim demonstrators should not be role models for the future war against secularized society. Militantism is considered both unChristian and an exchange of one bad thing for another. It is, however, the resistance that Christians should emulate as they contend for the faith. But, there is something about taking actions that speak louder than words as long as it isn't violent. As examples:

NBC pulls the plug
on 'Book of Daniel'

Nashville's WSMV-TV General Manager Elden Hale, Jr. said: "Based on a review of the first three episodes and the clearly voiced concerns from our viewers, we have determined that the program 'The Book of Daniel' is not appropriate for broadcast television in this community."

After the first three episodes, only Burlington Coat Factory was left as a national sponsor.

The heat began to generate for the show following WND's first story. Shortly afterward, the American Family Association launched a national boycott, citing WND's story.

AFA Chairman Donald E. Wildmon said NBC's decision to cancel the program is instructive.

"This shows the average American that he doesn't have to simply sit back and take the trash being offered on TV, but he can get involved and fight back with his pocketbook," he said.

The network had to absorb millions of dollars in losses each time it aired the program, Wildmon pointed out, because the show's sponsors bailed out.

"We want to thank the 678,394 individuals who sent e-mails to NBC and the thousands who called and e-mailed their local affiliates," he added.

Besides Nashville, other NBC affiliates across the nation either never aired the show or stopped broadcasting it. They included Hattiesburg, Miss.; Meridian, Miss.; Jackson, Miss.; Amarillo, Texas; Wichita, Kan.; Beaumont, Texas; and Terre Haute, Ind.

Only six episodes of the "Book of Daniel" were shot. Kevin Reilly, NBC Entertainment president, said the network's reluctance to order more episodes had more to do with the series' sluggish ratings performance than controversy.

NBC halts Britney's
crucifixion mockery

Reacting to pressure from Christian groups, NBC canceled an episode of "Will & Grace" that featured Britney Spears as a conservative who hosts a cooking segment called "Cruci-fixin's" on a Christian TV network.

NBC last week was forced to pull its highly touted new show "The Book of Daniel" because of charges its portrayal of Jesus was blasphemous.

The point is that Western society should learn how to be more respectful of faith. It shouldn't take a Fawtwa like stance in the decision to show respect. On the other hand, all religious people should understand enough of how Muslims feel about the sacred to reject the violence without throwing out the message.

It still leaves a question of how Mormons should respond to disrespect for the sacred. After all, there are some things in the LDS religion that have the same "don't touch" policy (although for different reasons) that Muslims do about their prophet. Should we take a stronger stand or ignore it as immature posturing?

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