In the past few years, months, weeks, and days, we’ve been hearing a lot more about horrific persecution taking place around the world by terrorists in the name of religion. It’s not religion by itself but people who pervert religion to suit their own twisted agendas. And perhaps they do actually find some kind of justification within their understanding of their own religious tradition. No matter what though, as Pope Francis pointed out in-flight to the Philippines, “killing in the name of God is not right, it is an aberration.”
The Pope also went on to say that “provoking and insulting other people’s faith is not right” either. Freedom of speech exists for the sake of the common good. The right to freedom of speech is ordered to that purpose. Just because people are free to say whatever they want even at the expense of offending others, doesn’t mean they should. I get that satire can serve to bring attention to problems by poking fun at them but it can easily be misunderstood and taken way too far, denigrating people and what they hold dear in the process. Freedom of speech and freedom of religion have to do with the dignity of every human person. However, both of these rights can be abused and distorted. And when that happens, human beings are trampled on.
Killling those responsible for publishing offending material that offends religious sensibilities is an extremely unreasonable and disproportionate response. That goes without saying. It’s understandable and Noble to want to stand up for your religion and your faith in God when it is attacked but there are peaceful ways of going about it.
My thoughts and prayers go out to all the victims of those who twist religion, in France, Belgium, Iraq, Nigeria, and Niger, and everywhere where persecution persists.