On the Front Lines of the Culture Wars

On the Front Lines of the Culture Wars

How should we regard bin Laden’s fate?

By CATHLEEN FALSANI (c) 2011 Religion News Service

Late Sunday night, while perusing Facebook, a friend on Facebook updated her status to announce that Osama bin Laden was dead. It took a few seconds to confirm the news on CNN, and by the time I refreshed the screen, her status had changed once again.
    This time, she posted a prayer.

    “O God, it is your will to hold both heaven and earth in a single peace,” she wrote. “Let the design of your great love shine on … the waste of our wraths and sorrows, and give peace to your church, peace among nations, peace in our homes, and peace in our hearts; through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.” 


   “Amen” indeed.

CLICK HERE to read related story of fears of reprisals in Nigeria and Pakistan
CLICK HERE to read: Pakistani Christian schools closed, shop owner killed in reprisal shooting

    For hours, as the details of bin Laden’s death emerged, dozens and dozens of Facebook friends chimed in to share news and, moreover, their candid thoughts.
    Relief. Satisfaction. Jubilation. Anger. Worry. And a certain mournfulness that left more than a few people struggling to find the “proper” context for what was happening.
    Many people mentioned the names of loved ones who perished on 9/11 or in the armed forces in Afghanistan and Iraq, in a sort of litany of remembrance.
    There were also variations of “Got him!” “Good riddance!” “Hallelujah!” and “Payback’s a bitch!”
    Soon after, though, more nuanced and thoughtful comments began appearing.
    “God would not allow the angels to join in the song of the Children of Israel after they crossed the Red Sea saying, `My creatures are floating in the sea, and you want to sing?”‘ wrote a Lutheran minister.
“Even the worst of the worst are children of God. Let us continue to pray for peace.”
    A journalist added the first of many quotes from Martin Luther King Jr. that appeared in dozens of status updates in the hours and days following the news: “There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.”



And then came the Scripture references, some of them starkly conflicting.

    “Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles.” Proverbs 24:17
    “When it goes well with the righteous, the city rejoices, and when the wicked perish there are shouts of gladness.” Proverbs 11:10
“As surely as I live, says the Sovereign Lord, I take no pleasure in the death of wicked people. I only want them to turn from their wicked ways so they can live. Turn, turn from your evil ways!” Ezekiel 33:11
    “This is what the Lord Almighty says: `I will punish the Amalekites for what they did to Israel when they waylaid them as they came up from Egypt. Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy all that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.”‘ 1 Samuel 15: 2-3


One person seemed to reflect the spiritual/existential conundrum that so many others are wrestling with in the wake of bin Laden’s death: “There is a fine line between rejoicing in the destruction of a human being, and celebrating victory and justice,” he said. “Where that line is … I have no idea.”

Is what we are feeling and thinking “right” in God’s eyes?

    What would Jesus say or do? Would he celebrate the vanquishing of an evildoer, or would he mourn the death of a lost sheep?
    Can God forgive bin Laden for the atrocities he committed on 9/11 and since? Should we? Can we?
    As the world waited to see whether U.S. officials would release photographic evidence of bin Laden’s corpse, the spiritual grappling continued with little consensus.
    One outcome, however, was imminently clear: There are many people who feel a renewed sense of community, the kind wrought by sharing a traumatic and historic experience together in a virtual place that somehow, at least occasionally, feels strangely like hallowed ground.
    More than a shouting match or purely intellectual exchange of opinion about bin Laden’s demise, Facebook became a forum for authentic spiritual examination. It was fascinating — and heartening — to watch hearts and minds transform in real time as they responded to the shared thoughts of friends and acquaintances on Facebook.
    For many of us, Facebook is a “Third Place,” a virtual gathering place where everyone knows our name and our story. It’s a place where we create, for better of for worse, an ongoing story together.
    For people of faith, Facebook can be a very real sacred space, even
— or perhaps most especially — in difficult times.
    While we may feel uncomfortable or unjust thanking God for the death of a moral monster like bin Laden, surely we can give thanks for the grace that makes even a modicum of beauty out of ugly things.
Copyright 2011 Religion News Service. All rights reserved. No part of this transmission may be distributed or reproduced without written permission.


  • To read about the death of a Christian Pakistani in retaliation CLICK HERECLICK HERE to read how Christians in Nigeria and Pakistan are worriedTo watch the video of the President’s statement, CLICK HEREREAD HERE as Beliefnet’s Jim Fletcher asks if all Muslims are evilTo consider the heart-felt thoughts of Debbie Lee, mom of the first Navy SEAL killed in Iraq, CLICK HERECLICK HERE to read bestselling author Linda Howard’s reactionTo consider the thoughts of Beliefnet’s Kirsten Jackson, CLICK HERECLICK HERE to watch the reaction of New Yorkers at Ground ZeroCLICK HERE for photos and the text of the President’s statementTo read the reaction of Beliefnet’s Ryan Gaffney CLICK HERECLICK HERE to read Beliefnet writer Donna Calvin’s reaction
    • http://AddaURLtothiscomment whitechicuva

      Finally, “I have found an explination for my feeling about the Death of Osoma bin Lauden!” I truly thought “something was wrong with me!” Thank you very much!

    • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Angela

      At first, I was elated that such an evil man had received justice here on earth for his deeds, but then I thought about God. What does he think? This poor soul went into eternity, to face the final judgement not knowing that Jesus died for him, and he could have had salvation. This is sad…

    • http://AddaURLtothiscomment MKayluv



    • http://AddaURLtothiscomment alexis

      Wow! The title of the aforementioned article, along with other news articles and talking heads since bin laden’s death have kept using “Obama” and “Osama” interchangeably. It comes down to one letter – Obama gets Osama, but it is a big mistake. Did we rejoice when we gained our Independence (by killing other human beings) from King George III? Did we rejoice when Lee signed the terms of surrender (because brother killed brother) at Appomattox Court House? Did we rejoice when Hitler killed himself and Japan’s emperor formally surrendered (because we killed other human beings)? Should we rejoice when the evil mastermind of 911 murdered 3,000 innocent lives? I think we know the answer because all four scenarios share some things in common. We live in a free USA because people were killed and had to be killed, period. Let all the peace and love do-gooders shut their yaps because they have the luxury to wax poetic on “kumbaya” provided by those who have gone before to make the ultimate sacrifice. We have become a soft sissy nation which has been fueled by the likes of Oprah, Dr. Phil, social engineering, the View, Rosie, Ellen, chick flicks, and other emasculating media. And right now I have that Toby Keith song about boots and behinds and the American Way reverberating in my head.

      • Rob Kerby, Senior Editor


    • http://AddaURLtothiscomment alexis

      I would like to make a correction to the question about 911 in my May 4th post. It should have said, “Should we rejoice when the evil mastermind of 911 murdered 3,000 innocent lives, declaring war on the USA and now has finally met his end, courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue?” This website should really have a preview feature to correct mistakes before doing a final posting. Thank you.

    • http://AddaURLtothiscomment dvanilla

      When I seen it on the news I didn’t rejoice I was confused to why those who rejoiced did rejoice. As a born-again Christian having been filled with the Holy Spirit who gives Love, Joy, Peace, Kindness, Meekness, Longsuffering, and Self-Control. I found it very hard to disect the whole thing reason is scripture says, “for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” Even in our thoughts we sin, word, and deed, so who are we to judge. I thank God my lips said nothing and my heart didn’t either. I didn’t want that judgment to come upon me in another form. I take God’s word serious my relationship I can testify I do have. All praise and glory goes to our God and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who is transforming me into the likeness of Himself. When our Savior was being nailed to the cross, “He called out, “father forgive them for they know not what they do.”

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    • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Jonatmay

      Osama Bin Laden died in battle, just like an enemy soldier that get killed in a war. He waged war on the United States. He chose guerrila war rather than conventional war. However, war is war. Soldiers in combat do not have the time to think about the other enemy’s faith or the faith of their soul.

    • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Timhogs

      Bin Laden is now facing his judgement at the hands of the Almightly. In time, the SEAL who pulled the trigger will face *his* judgement, as will we all. I find I can condemn Bin Laden’s *actions,* but since I didn’t live the life that would produce such a person I have no place to condemn *him.* But I will sleep easier knowing that Bin Laden will no longer be able to use his considerable influence and resources to encourage others to commit suicide and murder.

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