The Cartoon Controversy

Cartoons haven’t led to this much violence since Bugs Bunny blasted Elmer Fudd with his own gun and Acme explosives blew up Wile E. Coyote. Actually, as Muslim mobs in the Middle East, South Asia, and Africa riot, commit arson, and kill to protest political cartoons that have the temerity to suggest that Islam is, well, violent, what are the rest of us to do?

What follow are words of observation and advice to those interested in maintaining some semblance of civilization.

To George W. Bush: The rioters, with the tacit support of Muslim thugocracies, are attempting to turn the global war on terror into a conflict between Judeo-Christianity and Islam. Don’t let them. Be patient. Stand up for freedom of speech and of the press. Defend persecuted religious minorities in Islamic societies. Continue working with moderate Muslims wherever you can find them. Encourage them to speak out in support of shared monotheistic values. Lean on the complicit governments in Syria, Iran, and elsewhere to cut off financial aid to the radicals. Keep pushing for democracy. In places such as Iran, it is closer than many people think. One more thing: Find alternatives to America’s addiction to Middle Eastern oil.

To Western media: Stand up for your freedom (or you may lose it). Refuse to abide by radical notions of Islamic law. Publish and broadcast the cartoons (which will let the public see how relatively tame they are). Also, remember how Christians in most parts of the world may be offended by your attacks on their faith, but they don’t try to kill you. And next time, think twice before you light a match in a room full of religious dynamite.

To Christians: To those persecuted by Muslims using the cartoons to settle old scores in Pakistan and Nigeria, stand firm. Get your stories out. Call on your governments and human rights organizations to defend you. Protect your businesses, families, and lives when you must, but do not seek revenge, or you will be perceived as just another group of religious fanatics. Remember your Savior.

To Muslims in the West: Speak out for freedom. Remember that you are enjoying the many benefits of free and democratic societies, which are mostly unavailable in your ancestral lands. You are welcome to protest religious slights, but do not expect (or demand) that non-Muslims abide by strict notions of Shari’ah. If you want to live by Muslim law, then go to Saudi Arabia, Iran, or Pakistan. Finally, support freedom in Muslim countries. They need it.

To Western governments: Apologize for the journalists who offended Muslim sensibilities, but explain what free societies are and don’t give one inch on press freedom.

To the Muslim elites: Consider what a black eye you are giving to the public image of the “religion of peace.” Stop manipulating ignorance and manufacturing Muslim outrage over mere cartoons to cover up your corrupt, authoritarian regimes. Remember that a fire once started is difficult to put out—and may burn the one who started it.

To Christian missionaries in the Muslim world: Redouble your efforts. Prepare to suffer. Share your joy. Muslims, also created in the image of God, need to hear the good news. Only the light of Christ will dissipate the spiritual darkness in which Muslims are held.

About Stan Guthrie

Stan Guthrie is an editor at large for Christianity Today magazine and for the Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview. His latest book is God's Story in 66 Verses. He also is author of All that Jesus Asks: How His Questions Can Teach and Transform Us, Missions in the Third Millennium: 21 Key Trends for the 21st Century, and A Concise Guide to Bible Prophecy. He is co-author of The Sacrament of Evangelism. Besides authoring, writing, and editing books, Stan is a literary agent, bringing together good authors, good books, and good publishers. Stan writes the monthly Priorities colum for BreakPoint.org. He has appeared on National Public Radio's €œTell Me More,€ WGN's Milt Rosenberg program, and many Christian shows, including The Eric Metaxas Show and Moody Radio'€™s €œNew Day Florida.€ A licensed minister and an inspirational speaker, he served as moderator for the Christian Book Expo panel discussion, Does the God of Christianity Exist, and What Difference Does It Make?
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