Posts Tagged “brawl”

A member from the Greek Orthodox clergy (L) and a Palestinian use diesel to scrub the floor and columns of the Church of the Nativity, the site revered as the birthplace of Jesus, in the West Bank town of Bethlehem December 28, 2011. REUTERS/Ammar AwadIt seems Christians have a hard time dealing with the fact that — for the most part — the legendary founder of their religion was an avowed pacifist. This is indisputable, and can easily be found in the pages of any Christian Bible (e.g. Mt 5:38-39 and Lk 6:29, just to name two citations quoting him directly on the matter). He’s even known to many Christians as “the Prince of Peace.” Unfortunately, many Christians purposely ignore Jesus’ overt pacifism, paying closer attention to another of his quotations (i.e. Mt 10:34), and they freely exhibit as much violence as they wish.

It’s particularly ironic that a bunch of Christian clergy — men who ought to know better than other Christians that Jesus had been a pacifist — decided to duke it out with one another, in the place where it’s long been presumed he was born. The AP reports via USA Today‘s On Deadline blog on this idiotic debacle (WebCite cached article):

Up to 100 Greek Orthodox and Armenian Apostolic priests and monks swinging brooms clashed inside the Church of Nativity today in Bethlehem in a frenzied turf battle, the Associated Press reports. …

The fighting broke out during cleaning of the West Bank church in preparation for Orthodox Christmas celebrations in early January, as each side jealously guards its territory.

Sounds like these guys have a little growing up to do. It also sounds like this is the sort of jurisdictional conflict that ought to have been resolved long ago.

I was amused by the fact that Palestinian authorities — who have secular jurisdiction over the premises — have opted not to take any criminal action:

“It was a trivial problem that … occurs every year,” police Lieutenant-Colonel Khaled al-Tamimi tells Reuters. “Everything is all right and things have returned to normal.

He tells the news agency that there were no arrests “because all those involved were men of God.”

That’s right, folks. No crime apparently occurred here, because the people involved in the incident were “men of God.” This sort of reasoning sounds suspiciously like the same line of thinking that made it possible for so many priests and nuns to abuse so many children around the world for decades or centuries. Hmm. Maybe it’s time for a new mindset … one that admits the possibility that “men of God” may not actually be as perfect as others might wish they were?

Photo credit: Reuters/Ammar Awad (cached).

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Pastor John Renken's team of ultimate fighters doesn't quite believe in turning the other cheek. (ABC News)Some folks in Paducah, Kentucky have found a way to express their love for the Lord and to worship Jesus Christ. They’re doing so, by … get this! … brawling. Mixed martial arts, to be exact. ABC News reports on this new kind of Christian worship (WebCite cached article):

On a late Friday night recently at the Pure Country Bar in Paducah, Ky., a brawl is about to break out. It’s not a drunk fist fight — it’s a team of “warriors for Christ” gearing up for a fight in the name of the Lord.

“Father, we just thank you for the opportunity to go out tonight and to train and compete,” coach John Renken says. “Lord, we just pray that you protect our fighters, as well as the other guys. We pray that we will be a representation of you.”

Renken, the leader of the group of unorthodox fighters, is also an evangelical pastor who brings a new meaning to the term “bible beater.”

“I was fighting as a brand new Christian. I was fighting all the way through bible college…This is just a part of who I am,” he says. “Look at what Jesus endured for our sake. He goes down the walk that is roughly about a mile long with the Roman soldiers beating him bloody. He faced his own cage in life.”

It might sound unusual that the religion founded by “the Prince of Peace” (Is 9:6) could be expressed through brawling, but Renken is armed with his own rationale:

He says fighting has its roots in the Bible. “Jacob wrestles with God in Genesis…Exodus 15.3 [it] says that the Lord your God is a warrior. So, there is a part of God that I believe is a warrior, that is a master of battle,” he says.

There is, of course, a chance that this isn’t so much a mode of worship, but rather, a marketing gimmick:

Renken’s ministry is one of a growing number of evangelical churches that have looked to mixed martial arts as way to appeal to men, who have largely been absent from traditional congregations.

Of course, in order to market himself, Renken is forced to purposely ignore a bunch of scripture passages — other than Ex 15:3, which he likes. Let’s have a look at some of the things Jesus taught his own followers:

You have heard that it was said, “an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.” But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also. Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you. (Matthew 5:38-42)

But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also; and whoever takes away your coat, do not withhold your shirt from him either. Give to everyone who asks of you, and whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back. (Luke 6:27-30)

And behold, one of those who were with Jesus reached and drew out his sword, and struck the slave of the high priest and cut off his ear. Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place; for (D)all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword. (Matthew 26:51-52)

I guess these brawlers for Jesus must have those passages — and others — stripped out of their Bibles.

Oh, and … worshiping Jesus in a bar? Seriously? Only rednecks could come up with that.

Hat tip: Skeptics & Heretics Forum on Delphi Forums.

Photo credit: ABC News.

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There’s something odd going on in the worldwide Sikh community. (Sikhism, in case you didn’t know, is a Dharmic faith strongly influenced by Islam, particularly Sufic Islam.) It began in Vienna (Austria) and has already spilled over into Sikhism’s native land, India, as the AP reports (via Google News):

Sikhs wielding knives and a handgun attacked two preachers at a rival temple in Vienna in a brawl that left one of the victims dead Monday and at least 15 others wounded, police said. A related clash later broke out in northern India.

Witnesses said a group of bearded and turbaned men attacked the religious leaders at the temple in Austria’s capital on Sunday and their followers moved to defend them. …

Police spokesman Michael Takacs earlier said the scene was “like a battlefield.” Six suspects were in custody with more arrests possible, he said. …

In India, fighting between mainstream Sikhs and followers of the guru broke out in the northern city of Jalandhar several hours after the Vienna clash, in what locals there described as an apparent reaction to the melee in the Austrian capital. Sanjiv Kalra, a senior police official at Jalandhar, said that protesters had set fire to a number of vehicles and erected several roadblocks across the city. He gave no other details.

Reasons for this bloody attack are not all that clear, at least not to me. The AP report offers what explanation it can:

Witnesses said the perpetrators were fundamentalist Sikhs from a higher caste, who accused one or both of the preachers of being disrespectful of the Holy Book. Indian news reports said the attackers were incensed that one of the preachers was given a ceremonial shawl considered a high Sikh honor.

I can’t even begin to guess as to how, exactly, a savage mass attack like this is a reasonable response to being given a shawl. It’s also not clear to me how Sikh temples have managed to divide themselves along caste lines, since I’d thought that Sikhism denounced caste distinctions (see e.g. this Sikh-written Web page, and keep in mind that Sikhs have a ritual called Langar, in which free food is eaten by those of all castes, side-by-side. The ancient Hindu caste distinction — whose evils I blogged about before — appears to be inflicting yet more harm on people, even in the 21st century, and even in a religion which branched off from Hinduism centuries ago.

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