Tolerating radicals cost of freedom

Freedom New Mexico

If you are alive and reading this today and the world has not been shaken and burned to the ground, then we were right once again. We were 99.9 percent certain the rapture would not happen last week. That’s because we have amazing psychic powers that enable us to predict the future. Remember, we’re the same folks who said Obama was born in the United States and possessed a long-form birth certificate.

We hope you didn’t tell off the boss and stop paying the bills in advance of last week’s false alarm.

About a month ago, a caravan of impressive trucks rolled throughout North America, each painted up to announce that the world would end on May 21, 2011. The doomsday prediction of 89-year-old evangelical radio host Harold Camping gained momentum and became familiar to most Americans. A few took him seriously. All over the United States, stories were told in local media of business people who were closing their shops for doomsday. Some Americans stocked bomb shelters with food and water, just as they did before Dec. 31, 1999 — the last time the world was going to end.

Anyone, with any extreme message, is able to find a following in these times. Obama’s birth certificate is not real and bin Laden is not dead, because kooky conspiracy theorists dupe the gullible. The Rev. Jim Jones managed to get more than 900 members of the Peoples Temple to commit suicide in 1978 by drinking cyanide-laced Flavor-Aid.

Cult leader Marshall Applewhite convinced 39 to kill themselves in 1997 in order to reach an alien spacecraft that he said was following Hale-Bopp — a comet the cult members worshipped.

The Rev. Fred Phelps, of Kansas, gets people to believe that God hates the United States because it tolerates the peaceful existence of gays.

Though Camping claimed to have based his prediction on knowledge of the Bible, educated Christians knew better. They knew of Matthew 24:36, which says that “no one knows the day or the hour.”

The Clovis News Journal defends the right of Camping to spread weird theories. We defend the rights of anti-gay hate preachers, though we despise the message.

Tolerating these people is a cost associated with maintaining freedom. But freedom is best maintained in a context of self control and responsibility. Radical preachers, the likes of Camping, do more to harm religion and religious liberty than anti-religion activists could dream of doing. We don’t expect radical fear mongers and hate mongers to control themselves. But when they operate under the umbrella of Christianity, it is important for mainstream Christians to speak out. Do not let media-savvy crackpots symbolize your religion. Take them on, using the real words of the faith.