For several hours today, the Israeli government completely shut down some of the sites held as most sacred by the Islamic faith. It was the first such closure since 1967, and it was in reaction to the shooting and wounding of Yehuda Glick, a man who many have considered one of the most extreme among Zionist activists. The man suspected of the shooting was quickly killed by Israeli police.
Today has been a bad day for religion.
When a faith-based government closes off access to a place of worship for those of another faith, it brings all of our worst images of religion to the fore: Religion is the cause of war. Religion is an instrument of oppression. Religion is violent. Perhaps we have even felt this way ourselves. When we see faith manipulated for political purposes so often, it’s hard not to be cynical.
But the thing is, the faith that so often makes the headlines is not really faith. When people are moved to control one another, that’s not faith; that’s fear. When people need to get in your face with their beliefs, that’s not faith; that’s fear. Fear is that little voice in the back of your mind that keeps whispering to you about being weak, about how important it is to be in control, to win. Faith doesn’t need to win. Faith doesn’t need to prove anything. God doesn’t need to prove anything.
God doesn’t need to be legislated into existence or defended with military might.
Today has been a bad day for religion. But for God it’s just another day of loving us despite ourselves.