Isn”t “the Holy Land” an oxymoron?

ISN’T "THE HOLY LAND" AN OXYMORON?

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Daily, we read bad news from the Middle East. I believe that the issues of the Middle East are primarily about human rights, justice, and peace, not religion. I wish we could keep religions out of the debate.

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I was neither an atheist nor an agnostic when I started to go regularly to Israel/Palestine in 1979 for human rights and refugee work. I was a Christian then and I still am. But I nearly lost faith in religion – in any religion. The ugliness of conflicts between religions, leading sometimes to blood-shed, was absolutely contrary to whatever romantic view of "Holy Land" I had held. I cannot speak much about the disputes between Jews and Muslims. I am sure that they are serious. But I can speak about the fights between Christian denominations over so-called "holy sites." For centuries, the churches fought each other over the authenticity of various holy sites and over ownership of those sites. Fights still go on. And they are ugly.

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If an intelligent life form from another planet came to the earth, he/she would not be able to understand why people who believe in one God are fighting over an object like a piece of land, a building, or a rock, etc. For believers of Christianity, Islam, and Judaism, there should be no other god than the God of Abraham. For them, only that God is holy and no other. Then why should there be such an object like land be "holy." Isn’t the way they fight over land is akin to idiolatry? Land is not a god – it’s a part of God’s creation.

rn

These three religions believe in the same God of Abraham and held the Hebrew Bible as Holy Scripture. And yet, the fanatics in all three religions claim that only their own particular brand of faith is correct and others be damned. I think that the whole point of belief in one God is universalism. We believe that by believing one universal divine being, we acknowledge that we are all God’s children, and brothers and sisters. I believe that to say "only my god is the real god, and all others be damned" is apostasy in Christianity, Islam, and Judaism.

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