Saturday, July 28, 2012

Alexander Aan

The Atheist blogosphere is up in arms and dismayed at the same time.

Alexander Aan, an Indonesian Atheist was arrested and fined for posting Atheistic rhetoric on Facebook.

Crazy huh?

As a former Atheist, I know how harsh we can be in presenting our views to the world.  We can be very confrontational, very arrogant - in a word - snobbish.

Aan made a big mistake posting on Facebook in a nation that is very religious and bases its laws on religion in a fundamentalist manner.  Indonesia is a Muslim nation.  Islam is known for being a no nonsense religion.  The Catholic Church is often attacked as being stubborn, unchanging and what not, but Islam can go to the extreme in order to prevent dissent; whereas in a Catholic parish one can find all kinds of views, even among the clergy.

Indonesia is NOT the United States of America.  Freedom of speech and expression exists there solely through the filter of Islam.  In spite of this, Aan still voiced his views and now is facing the heat, so to speak.

He has been beaten by mobs, arrested, harassed, and beaten by other prisoners as well.  He faces charges for breaking the "blasphemy laws," inciting hate, and fines.

Aan is facing what many Christians have faced and are facing even today in 2012 - religious persecution.

This is unfortunate indeed.  Despite Aan's Atheistic views, he is still a human being and is being denied his basic human rights.

A petition was started by Atheists in order to get the White House involved, but the petition was a failure.  Only about 8,000 signatures were collected which was not even close to the amount needed for the White House to get involved.  Ironically, Atheism advocates attempt to silence religious beliefs in the public square; so in a sense, it is hypocritical to attempt to force Indonesia to exonerate Aan with American political power on the basis of "religious freedom."  

Nevertheless, I still participated in the petition and here is why:

  • He is a human being with rights
  • Despite leaving Atheism behind, I do not wish ill to those who still follow that belief system.
  • Jesus would have done the same by reaching out to the "Gentile." 
  • This sends a message that free speech and human rights must be respected everywhere.

All religious people should join in helping Alexander Aan.  Catholics, Protestants, Eastern Rite Orthodox, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists - We too face religious persecution and are targets of censorship by governments or groups that solely want to be heard and obeyed.

Christians in America have great power as demonstrated in the recent LGBT vs Chick-Fil-A events. We must use that power not only to help ourselves, but to help others - even those who may hate us.

Jesus wanted it that way:

 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’  But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,  that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?  Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.  - Matthew 5:43-48

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