Abu Bakar Bashir is the spiritual leader of Jemaah Islamiah (JI), a radical Islamic organisation in Indonesia responsible for bombings that have killed locals and westerners. He is recently quoted as calling for the eradication of Indonesia's counter-terrorism police unit, which is closely supported by the Australian Federal Police.
He has labelled members of Indonesia's counter-terrorism unit as "apostates" and "tools of America" and called for them to be "eradicated". This means killing of course!
He also praised JI members who carried out bombings in Indonesia as "counter-terrorists" waging a permitted holy war against America and its allies, which were opposed to the enforcement of Islamic law. Note that Islamic law is something to be enforced. Infidels, are permitted to live, but only under Islamic law.
Well, as a Christian I qualify as an infidel. Infidels, apostates; how fundamentalism is always looking to divide rather than unify.
It presents an interesting challenge to Christians. David Marr's recent Quarterly Essay, His Master's Voice, lambasts the Christian Right for its influence on government and the governments pandering to them (when it suits them) on issues of morality such as euthanasia, stem cell research, etc. Marr suggests that such values are out of touch with mainstream Australia. What does that mean for Christians.
I wonder if we can enforce "Christian" values on anyone, without a free acceptance of the Christian story? In what ways are we salt and light then? Perhaps by living in a counter cultural manner that is mostly attractive? To be inclusive without being soft on what the church (and indeed Jesus) calls sin? Exclusion of sin and embrace of the sinner. A community of love and not of hate, of non-violence and not violence.
Abu Bakar is a shadowy reminder of what all religion can become. We need to remember what Jesus was like (WWJD??!! ;) ) when we speak up about morals and ethics, and remember that logs make splinters harder to remove.