Another reason why religion and politics shouldn’t mix…
Posted on November 29, 2011
It is remarkable how Lebanon’s Maronite Patriarch, Beschara Rai, can deliver sermons and addresses so adroitly with his foot stuck in his mouth.
First, he defended Syrian President Bashar Assad by arguing (not unlike senior March 8 Christian figures) that the fall of the regime would automatically imperil Christians living there. Aside from being rather a large diplomatic boo-boo, Rai’s rhetoric was roughly analogous to that of the late Muammar Gadhafi, who warned that Al-Qaeda and rats and drugged up Salafists would replace his tyrannous tenure. It is fear-mongering at its least convincing and it places the head of the Maronite Church in direct opposition to most of the Arab world and most of the international community.
Now Rai has decided that, because one man last week raped and killed an innocent women at a sanctuary, and because that man happened to be neither Lebanese nor a Christian, that all foreign non-Christians cannot be trusted as employees in Christian institutions.
Well then. The crime was horrifying and must obviously be utterly condemned, but I’m not sure it happened because the perpetrator was a foreign non-Christian. It happened because he’s a murdering rapist. See the difference?
Rai obviously feels like he has to say something, but his timing and slant are both plain wrong. Given the sectarian makeup of the country, its less-than friendly history, and the faith-related tensions currently surrounding it, Lebanon does not need a senior religious figure blaming inhuman behaviour on foreignness or non-Christianness.
Through Rai’s intervention, a personal tragedy has been flung headlong into the political arena. With the government on the brink of collapse, I would venture it’s the role of religious figures to preach togetherness and unity, not xenophobia and sectarianism.