A call for unity

The holiday season is upon us; filled with food, family and religious debate. Christians have Christmas, Jews have Hanukah and Africans have Kwanzaa. The list goes on and on. So whoâÄôs right? ThatâÄôs the question that has sparked much hostility between people of all faiths throughout the world and history. The University of Minnesota is no different. Christians and atheists seem to be the exceptional case here. ItâÄôs amazing, though, how passionate people on both sides become about their stance. They become so stubborn and closed-minded that they miss the big picture. Let me begin with some suggestions for my fellow Christians. First, be rational! Just because we follow God does not mean that our brains have to fall by the wayside. We do not have to deny the existence of evolution in order to be Christian. Why is it that so many of us view any new scientific discovery as an attack on Christian fundamentals? DonâÄôt view God and science as opposing forces, but rather make it a point to recognize that God exists in science and nature. Next, be civilized! CanâÄôt one have a decent conversation with an atheist without it resulting in a theological debate? Jesus preached a message of peace and love for your neighbor; and, although you may not like it, that includes your atheist neighbor as well. God calls us to love, not to infuriate. Our closed minds and our stubbornness have turned many away from our beliefs. Realize that it is not your duty to âÄúconvertâÄù every single person that you meet. ThatâÄôs GodâÄôs department. The best thing you can do is be a good citizen and a caring friend to all kinds of people. Finally, donâÄôt think too highly of yourself! Believing in God does not automatically make you a good person. In fact, I know plenty of atheists and people of other faiths who do a lot more good in the world than many of the Christians IâÄôve seen. Next, I have a few words for atheists and people of other faiths. I would like you to realize that the Christian community is not represented by televangelists and those guys outside The Mall in September who rip apart condoms and tell you that youâÄôre going to hell. I am ashamed that the rest of us in the Christian community have allowed such radicals to gain the most attention. Most Christians are not like this or even agree with this. We donâÄôt all hate gay people. Not all of us are pro-life. We didnâÄôt all vote for Mike Huckabee in the primaries and then for John McCain in November. We donâÄôt all think that Barack Obama is Muslim (and even if he is, who cares?) or the antichrist. We come from all walks of life with all kinds of different beliefs, which is true of people from all faiths. I just want to let you know that we are not idiots like the ones you might see on TV or on the street. Finally, I have a challenge for everyone. Shut up! These debates on theology and morals are getting us nowhere. People âÄî myself and Christians included âÄî spend way too much time and effort arguing about their petty differences. There are so many things that are more important. There is genocide and war in the world. There are starving people everywhere. There are homeless on our streets. There are children living in abusive homes. These are only a few examples of things that need to be and can be fixed. So here is my challenge for all of us: LetâÄôs redirect our efforts and do some more good in the world! Why canâÄôt a Christian, an atheist, and Muslim stand side-by-side in an effort against poverty and hunger? There is no reason. God or Allah, polytheism or atheism, Buddha or Gandhi, it doesnâÄôt matter. We can all spend less time on theology and more time on practice. Christopher White University student