We wrote about the assassination of Salman Taseer last January: about his call to reform Pakistan’s anti-blasphemy law; and about the assassin (Taseer’s own bodyguard) who believed he was carrying out God’s will in killing Taseer. I characterized such misguided fundamentalism as “owning” God. When God is yours, you can justify doing anything– including murdering others.
This sad story continues with another assassination, earlier this month, of Pakistan’s only Christian cabinet minister, Shahbaz Bhatti. The BBC reports that Mr. Bhatti was killed in an ambush by Taliban gunmen as he drove away from his mother’s home on March 2nd. Mr. Bhatti, like Salman Taseer, had spoken out against Pakistan’s anti-blasphemy law.
Bad theology– of any religious brand– will lead to bad consequences. While I write about events in Pakistan, the truth is that bad theology leading to bad consequences can– and does– happen anywhere. Destructive, life-denying ideas about who God is, and what God wants, can take root in people’s hearts. Assassination in God’s name is a dramatic enactment of bad theology; chronic guilt or debilitating shame in a person, that comes from a theology built on an imprinted Disapproving Parent, is a less dramatic– but still life-robbing– enactment of bad theology.
The answer to bad theology is good theology. Here’s some good theology articulated by Roman Catholic Bishop Joseph Coutts. This good theology was spoken at Shahbaz Bhatti’s funeral:
Our grievance is against the wrong use of this [blasphemy] law. If murderers go to heaven, then what good is the heaven. Pardon me, but we cannot worship a god who rewards murderers.
Nobody is ready to listen to our argument, or accept our innocence. Shahbaz Bhatti’s message is, rid Pakistan of prejudice and hatred so that a culture of mutual respect and tolerance takes root.
And let the people say: it’s not just Pakistan. Amen.