Assassinations of high-profile public figures in Pakistan in the last three months have prompted reflection and concern in that country and elsewhere. The proximate cause is Pakistan’s anti-blasphemy law; the underlying cause is the deformation of religion known as fundamentalism. The assassins– and those who support them– dishonor God by claiming that their “religion”– or particular interpretation thereof– contains all of who God is. They want to own God for themselves.
This fundamentalism– whether it’s in Pakistan, Iran, Israel, Argentina, Uganda, the United States, the United Kingdom, or the United Arab Emirates– is religion out of balance.
Here are some words from Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, spoken in response to the assassination of Shahbaz Bhatti– the latest Pakistani official killed because of his criticism of that country’s anti-blasphemy law.
The archbishop’s words are religion in balance.
Said Williams, “[Those who supported Mr. Bhatti's killing] inhabit a world of fantasy, shot through with paranoid anxiety.” He went on to characterize these violent fundamentalists as “wholly uninterested in justice and due process of law, [and] concerned only with promoting an inhuman pseudo-religious tyranny.”
In the end, he said that Mr. Bhatti died “for all practical purposes as a martyr. Not simply for his Christian faith, but for a vision shared between Pakistani Christians and Muslims.”