Tragedy doesn’t warrant religious persecution

Holly New

The bombings in Boston shook us, as a nation, to our core.

Any time something as random and violent as that happens, we are all forced to stop and look at the world around us. While looking for someone to blame, we begin to question what kind of world we live in, and more importantly, what kind of world we want to live in.

I think any time there is an attack on our soil, it provides us with a reason to grow. I am angered by the fact that in search for the culprit, people are already pointing fingers. Religious leaders are already on the defensive as blame uncomfortably shifts.

Nihad Awad, national executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, immediately came out with a statement about the Boston bombings: “American Muslims, like Americans of all backgrounds, condemn in the strongest possible terms today’s cowardly bomb attack on participants and spectators of the Boston Marathon.”

David Gibson and Lauren Markoe of ReligionNews.com wrote Tuesday that “It’s a familiar race against time for Muslim groups. Almost as soon as the smoke cleared around Copley Square, they knew from long experience that some would immediately point the finger of blame in their direction.”

Other religious groups are facing similar prejudice, equating their religion with violence. On April 5, Todd Starnes of Fox News reported that “A U.S. Army training instructor listed Evangelical Christianity and Catholicism as examples of religious extremism along with Al Qaeda and Hamas during a briefing with an Army Reserve unit based in Pennsylvania….”

While Army spokesman George Wright told Fox News that this was an “isolated incident not condoned by the Dept. of the Army,” it shows how any religion could face discrimination.

It’s been said that a few bad apples spoil the bunch. If we begin ostracizing every religion in which a violent act is committed under, we may have none left. Any blame should be directed only toward the culprit, who at this point we know nothing about. Rash accusations will only fuel more hatred and potential violent acts, which is something nobody should condone.

I like to think of NIU as a shining example of cooperation. People of all faiths are able to cohabitate and function among each other with no problems. Even in the wake of our own tragedy after the shooting at Cole Hall in 2008, the people of NIU didn’t become opposing forces; we came together. Let us remain that example for others to look to as a place of peace and tolerance.

What we have to remember is a variety of people were affected by these bombings, but what they all have in common was the love of running. Daniel Burke of ReligionNews.com wrote, “For runners, Monday’s bombing struck on holy ground, testing sacred bonds.” A community of runners had their faith tested, but they have still gotten back up. Let us follow their example.

As Kathrine Switzer, the first woman to ever run the Boston Marathon said, “If you are losing faith in human nature, go out and watch a marathon.”