Following the 2004 assassination of Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh by a Dutch radical Muslim of Moroccan descent, we have seen an increased fear of publicly criticizing Islamic beliefs or culture. Van Gogh’s film Submission took to task Islam’s treatment of women, and it cost him his life.
More recently French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo saw radicals storm its offices and murder 11 following its publishing of a string of offensive cartoons featuring Muhammad. Now a Jordanian Christian writer has been murdered under similar circumstances.
“A gunman shot dead Jordanian writer Nahed Hattar on Sunday [Sept. 25] outside the court where he was to stand trial on charges of contempt of religion after sharing on social media a caricature seen as insulting Islam” (“Christian Writer Who ‘Insulted Islam’ Murdered in Jordan,”The Jerusalem Post, Sept. 25, 2016).
While those in the United States and other Western nations with the freedom of speech have the right to criticize any group within reason, retaliatory violence has created an atmosphere in which individuals and groups are afraid of offering even reasoned, respectful criticism.
However, it is a responsibility of the Church to promote godly principles and point out where a society or culture—any culture—doesn’t meet God’s standards. We shouldn’t give in to the aims of terrorists and succumb to fear, nor should we keel to societal pressures to not be bold in preaching the gospel of the Kingdom of God and God’s laws. As the apostle Paul wrote, “I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27). Beyond Today and its sponsor church, the United Church of God, are committed to doing the same. (Source: The Jerusalem Post.)