ELCJHL Bishop Urges Tolerance Not Desecration

In the wake of accusations of the desecration of Holy Scriptures recently, Bishop Munib Younan issued the following statement:

A Call for Co-existence not Desecration: Sacred Scriptures, Sacred Places – A Sacred Trust for Peace:

The reality of Jerusalem and the Holy Land has taught us deep respect for the three Monotheistic religions so that we strive to live together in tolerance and mutual acceptance.

Despite any differences of doctrine or teachings there is a red line which we all agree can not be crossed. We all respect the Jewish, Muslim and Christian Holy Scriptures and Holy Places.

For us this fundamental principle of mutual respect for that which each religion holds sacred is inviolable. No person or group can be permitted to trivialize, destroy or besmirch these sacred things.

We are distressed and alarmed by the shocking allegations that in the U.S. Military Base at Guantanamo Bay and now here in Meggido and Nafhah prisons irresponsible persons have desecrated the Holy Koran.

We as a Palestinian Christians and our ELCJHL church, firmly denounce all such acts of desecration and violation of sacred scripture. The fact that sacred books are abused or desecrated in order to torture, pressure, humiliate or demoralize prisoners is an abomination. The dignity and human rights of all prisoners must be ensured according to the rule of law, human rights and the standards of justice according to Geneva Conventions. In equal measure the dignity and sacredness of the Holy Scriptures must be defended and preserved.

No one has the right to desecrate the sacred writings of any religion for any purpose. We therefore demand that the responsible authorities take the strongest measures possible to investigate these allegations and hold those responsible for any such violation of sacred trust accountable. In so doing they must redouble all efforts to prevent and eliminate religious abuse.

We are equally alarmed by recent cynical attempts to incite conflict by repeated threats to harm and attempts invade the precincts of the Al Aqsa mosque in the Old City of Jerusalem –the third most Holy Site for Muslims. Jerusalem must be maintained as a city shared by three religions and two peoples. As Palestinian Christians we stand to defend the sanctity of Al Aqsa for the Muslims and the Holy Sites for the Jews as well as to defend Christian Holy Sites for our faithful.

Authorities and Government officials must ensure that no one uses Holy Books, Holy Writings or Holy places to transform a political conflict into a religious conflict. As religious leaders we will not accept or tolerate such unholy manipulation, not in Israel, not in Palestine and not anywhere else in the world!

We are calling on the local and international community to vigorously oppose and stop the use of religion for hidden political agendas or aims.

We wish to make known to the whole world that Jerusalem shows that religious co-existence is possible, even in situations of political conflict. It is possible for the three Monotheistic religions to mutually respect the believers and Holy Places of each religion. We have a sacred obligation and divine call to work together to protect all Holy Places so that the Status Quo of the Holy Places remains intact and religious co-existence is upheld.

Our daily lives together in the Holy Land has taught us to defend and respect the Koran, the Torah and the Bible not to desecrate or diminish that which is Holy to our neighbors, our brothers and sisters of other faiths.

To desecrate the Holy Place or Holy Book of one is a desecration for all. To violate any Holy Place is an assault on all people of Faith. To insult the teaching of any is scorn the teachings of all three Monotheistic religions!

We pray to the Almighty God and call upon all adherents of religions, people of conscience, politicians, educators and people responsible in civil societies, that religious co-existence based on mutual respect and tolerance may continue in this Holy Land as a paradigm for the whole world.

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