Tear Down That Wall!
I had a very interesting thing happen to me recently. My church was sponsoring a Human Rights Symposium and I got a true look at just how damaging lies can be. There’s a bit of background to this, so please bear with me.
The Church of Scientology in Denver has been working with a local minister, Rev. Leon Kelly, for years to support his efforts to keep children out of gangs. Rev. Kelly is not a Scientologist, but is certainly smart enough and open-minded enough to accept effective help from whatever quarter he can get it when it is freely given.
Rev. Kelly has several programs, one of which is called Flippin’ the Script. This program is one where he takes parolees and helps them learn life skills so they can lead productive happy lives instead of ones filled with drugs, violence and death. He holds his weekly meetings in my church, as we have a large centrally located place that we open up to our community. [So much for those who say we are secretive.]
One of the attendees at our Symposium was a Muslim gentleman named Mohammed Noorzai. He told the story of meeting with Rev. Kelly to work out how their respective programs might complement each other. Rev. Kelly was telling him about the Flippin’ the Script program and invited him to come see what they were doing. He let Mohammed know that the program meets weekly at the Church of Scientology. Rev. Kelly also told him he should meet with Patricia, the person in charge of our interfaith programs.
Mohammed wanted to see and help Rev. Kelly’s program, but what he had heard about Scientology in the media made him hesitate. He actually had to think for several days about coming over, before he realized that the very same press that was attacking his religion and making all Muslims look like terrorists were the ones he was accepting data from about the Church of Scientology. He realized, much to his amazement, that he was putting up walls between himself and another group that could help him because of lies from the press. So, he decided to overcome his own prejudice, go out on a limb and come to our church. When he did he found out more about us. One of the things he learned about Scientology is that our passion for human rights is just as intense as his own.
If there were a Report Card for my religion, one of the areas we would score an “Excellent” in would be “Works and plays well with others.” Every faith I have ever encountered has good intentions. I believe religion is one of the best forces for helping others. That is why my church supports other religions and we often work with them to make things go better. We use our knowledge and resources to expand the influence of those who also like to help. We have worked with people of just about every faith and of no faith at all.
As an example, the Scientology volunteers in New Orleans after Katrina hit worked very hard to coordinate the efforts of all the churches in the area so that donated supplies reached areas where they were needed most. If you want efficiency in disasters, call on the churches. If you want red tape and bureaucracy, rely on the government to do it. The government has rules. The churches seem to operate on the idea that the rules are much less important than just helping people. The Red Cross was throwing out food because their rules said they could only feed people within the walls of their shelters. The churches were gathering up that food and giving it to those who were hungry (with the help of a very nice lady who was willing to break the rules and give it to us).
Don’t listen to the lies spread by those who would have us isolated from each other.
All of the above is a long preamble to my actual point—lies spread by the media do nothing but put up walls between us. They attempt to prevent us from reaching out to others who might enrich our lives by making us think they have bad intentions or are bad people. I have run across very few truly “bad” people. I know they are out there, but the good people far outnumber them.
Don’t listen to the lies spread by those who would have us isolated from each other. Mohammed put it very nicely: before we can really help, he said, we have to remove the walls within us that separate us from other people of good will.