In this case, he was talking about influential Ultra-Orthodox religious leaders with inordinate political power, who shape the law on conversion to Judaism. It’s a big and there’s a lot at stake. I am certain that God does not want religion to have barriers to entry or a swinging door that can hit somebody’s butt on the way out. And I am also certain that God does not want religion to be forced on another through intimidation and worse.
The holy land is a staging area for dispute between people of different religions and within people of the same religion. Rabbi Melchior is a leading authority on interfaith relations, but he is also an expert on inner-faith relations. He’ll tell you, Jews are fighting among themselves about who’s a Jew, a woman’s right to pray as she chooses and who gets to be the boss on all things Jewish in Israel. There’s serious in-fighting among Muslims around ending violence, a two-state solution, humane governance and which tribe rules.
My multi-faith loving heart hurts. It’s not about your way and my way. It’s about the way of God. It’s not about forming clusters of sects and declaring superiority. It’s about open communities that embrace all of our sisters and brothers. How we worship, what we believe and the rules we follow are meant to bring us closer to God, and closer to each other.
Who can deny the wisdom in loving your neighbor? Who can logically support murder and mayhem as a way of enforcing religious principles? There is something that sensible people can do to end the divisions, and unite as one people. We can say a prayer for unity. We can start with the recognition that we all share prayer as a way to connect to God and connect to our inner power. And, we can pray together, as one people, with a spirit of loving kindness.
May I honor Your Name always
as a blessing on my lips.
Your Name is not a weapon.
It is neither a catalyst for anger,
nor is it proof of my righteousness.
Your Name is the hand of kindness,
the voice of hope,
the source of all possible joy.
May I only speak it
in reverence and in love.