Loving Our Enemies: The Cure for Bigotry.

In Mormon scripture is found the story of a group of four brothers and their friends who decide (after a shocking conversion experience by which they are born again in Christ) to go preach the word among the “idolatrous” and “wicked” Lamanites.

When they make this desire known among their own people, the Nephites, their decision is met with derision and scorn as depicted in the following words:

“Do ye suppose that ye can bring the Lamanites to the knowledge of the truth? Do ye suppose that ye can convince the Lamanites of the incorrectness of the traditions of their fathers, as stiffnecked a people as they are; whose hearts delight in the shedding of blood; whose days have been spent in the grossest iniquity; whose ways have been the ways of a transgressor from the beginning?”

The solution to the constant warring between the two groups suggested by the residue of the Nephites was: “Let us take up arms against them that we destroy them and their iniquity out of the land, lest they overrun us and destroy us.”

In the years since Sept. 11, 2001, what has the Western view concerning Islam been? In fact, starting in the 11th century A.D. what has been the view of Christianity towards Islam in general? Has it reflected the desire expressed by Ammon and his brothers to love and serve those who had tried over many years to exterminate the Nephites, or has it reflected the hatred, bigotry, and bloodthirst of the residue of the Nephites who wanted to “destroy” these “stiffnecked” peoples?

In the Book of Mormon, there is no record of any missionary effort to the Lamanites prior to the attempt by these brothers and their friends to teach, preach, love, and serve their enemies. How shocking must this desire have been to the other Nephites!

I guess, then, I can understand the disbelief expressed by those around me who question the effectiveness, rationality, or saneness of loving one’s enemies.

However, former U.S. Congressman and U.N. Ambassador Mark Siljander, has come to believe and apply the injunction of Christ to love one’s enemies. In his book A Deadly Misunderstanding: A Congressman’s Quest to Bridge the Muslim-Christian Divide, Ambassador Siljander describes the evolution of his feelings from a near-militant anti-Muslim in the U.S. Congress during the Reagan era to sitting down with the Foreign Minister of Libya while that country was on the “do not contact” list. He describes his experiences among Muslim world leaders and diplomatic successes he has attained through expressing love, asking forgiveness, and building on common spiritual and moral beliefs based in the teaching of Jesus Christ and his personal study of the Qur’an.

The similarity between Siljander’s story and that of Ammon and his “brethren” struck me. Siljander has been called a traitor and a Muslim-lover. He has been indicted for violation of the Patriot Act. Ammon was probably thought of similarly, and if there had been a Patriot Act in his day, he would have been in violation of it, giving aid and comfort to the enemy. Isn’t it amazing that it is considered “treasonous” to follow the teachings of Christ?

The Fearless Path is about choosing good because it’s good, not because it’s convenient. It is about following the teachings of the moral path along which all cultures travel, be they Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, atheist, secular humanist.

2 Replies to “Loving Our Enemies: The Cure for Bigotry.”

  1. Remember the two dozen South Korean Christian missionaries who were captured in Afghanistan a couple of years ago? How many of us thought they were crazy (and maybe they were) for trying what they did? But isn’t that what we should be doing? They showed the spirit of Ammon and his brothers with fearlessness.

  2. Absolutely. There are many stories from China during the late 19th, early 20th century of Christian missionaries who demonstrated profound love and fearlessness in their willingness to suffer much for what they felt was the path of truth.

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