When some Muslims in some nations staged riots during the 2005-2006 debacle surrounding the publication of images of Mohammed, right-wing politicians used the riots to decry the emergence of “islamofascism” in widely cut-and-pasted opinion pieces around the internet and in print newspapers as well. Right-wing newspaper columnist Cal Thomas delivered a typical judgment:
Jews and Christians don’t riot when slandered, but Muslims do at the smallest perceived slight. That is not an example of a developed religion or a developing society. That is medieval.
At the time, we delivered hefty doses of criticism directed toward those Muslims who attempted to curtail free speech. But the right-wing Christians like Cal Thomas who attempt to justify and recruit for an armed religious struggle between Christianity and Islam have a blind spot when it comes to their own religion. Christianity has a long history of persecution, rioting and the squelching of freedom all in the name of Jesus, and the history is not all ancient. Take, for example, demands by Bishops in Malaysia last year that the newspaper Makkal Osai be banned for publishing an image of Jesus holding a can of beer in one hand and a cigarette in the other hand. Here’s that image, if you’re curious about it:
This year, Christians have rioted in multiple communities in India, ransacking newspaper offices and destroying property because the same image was published in a regional daily newspaper. These latest Christian riots show that the problem isn’t with Islam in particular, or with Christianity in particular. The problem is with the kind of religious fundamentalism present in both Christianity and Islam that seeks to impose its own standards on everyone else, through whatever destructive methods it deems necessary.
I haven’t read Cal Thomas’ column decrying Christianity as a medieval, undeveloped religion. I’m not going to hold my breath waiting for it.