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 Airvenus

      I admit that I am happy that he has passed. I am not saying that my feelings are right or wrong but that is just what they are. Though, I am not happy for revenge sake but that this would be a big blow to Al Qaieda and would help to make our world a safer place. This war on terror is not only draining on our economy but on our spirits to live in peace of mind.
      So although i have no feelings of hatred against Bin Laden, his death brings a relief and hope of a better tomorrow. Is there a possibility that there may be a retaliatory attack? yes. but overtime it seems that their power will end.
      Also i was very conflicted about him receiving close to a proper Islamic burial as a question of necessity. Lastly, I am not for releasing his photo. I am not a conspiracy theorist who needs proof and i am not gruesome or revengeful to see such a picture.

      All that being said, I will heed the psalms and pray for his soul.

    • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Courtney

      I was saddened by his death…I don’t wish Hell on ANYONE. Hell was not made for us and when some goes (by his/her own choice)> there is no reason to rejoice. He(Osama) made bad decisions in his life, but we all have and if it weren’t for God’s grace and mercy we would ALL be destined for hell. So instead of dancing and rejoicing when some dies without Jesus pray for them. That the Lord will open their eyes before it’s too late.

    • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Annette

      When I first heard about Bin Laden being killed, I couldn’t rejoice over his death even though he was an evil man. I am a Christian and I feel he did leave this world a lost soul forever and will spend eternity in Hell, apart from God. God doesn’t want us to be happy for those who leave this world not knowing Christ. It might be hard to believe but God loved him as much as He loves me or anyone else.

    • http://AddaURLtothiscomment smithersonjones

      who said he didnt have religion?? he had enough time to repent to god its none of our business.. just like jeffrey dahmer he did a very terrible thing, but 2 years later he said he ask god to forgive him and for the last 2 years he was a “changed” man.. who are we to say he didnt have repentence from god.. a sin is a sin.. right? no sin is greater than the next…right? so how many times have YOU petty theft from your job im talking ink pins,tape,sticky notes, just small things that “noone will miss” how many flies, bugs etc.. have you killed? (thou shall not kill) so i just say its sad he had to lose his life when our own government have tapes document on YouTube none the less showing cheney them where doing crazy stuff with traing planes flying low in the new york city a lot of unanswered things our government have hoodwinked us into believeing just a mess.. question to you.. what or how would you feel if you find out the government lied to you then how would you feel about “him” dying? would you believe your own eyes or could the government convince you of their truth? its right in your face, right under your nose, start with a blank page, clear mind a research for yourself… just like rodney king if you read the police report it says it was 3 more guys with him..ok where did they go? CONSPIRACY THEORY is real…

    • http://AddaURLtothiscomment shelia

      When I first heard the news, my exact thoughts were “He’s dead! Oh God he’s dead.” Osama bin Laden was an evil man, but he was also a creation of Almighty God. Part of me rejoices that he cannot hurt anyone else but I literally wept for the soul lost for all eternity. We need to pray for EVERYONE involved in that raid. Whichever SEAL took the shot, if they can even tell that (if multiple people shot him), I pray they talk to God and clear this from their souls, and that they continue to talk to Him when this presses them down (and if they follow Christ, it will press on them).

    • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Linda

      I hear what everybody is saying but even in the bible does it say what goes around comes around

    • Kelli

      I have to say that I was not sure how to feel when I heard the news. The whole thing left me feeling very uneasy. I could not share the jubilation that many did at the death of a human being, and yet there was somewhat a sense of relief. I know that God is in control, and that gives me peace about it all.

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