On Wednesday, 7 January 2015, two Islamic terrorists stormed the offices of Charlie Hedbo, a French satirical newspaper that has in the past published cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, sparking a three-day reign of terror that ended with a dozen people dead. This attack on free speech failed to intimidate the survivors of the newspaper. The next issue came out the following week with the Prophet Muhammad holding a sign that “Je Suis Charlie” (“I Am Charlie”) on the cover.
As a writer with a Christian background, I believe that free speech and freedom of religion goes hand-in-hand. You can’t have one without the other. Unfortunately, too many religious people take their religion too seriously by making every little detail a life-and-death struggle. Stepping back from something absurd and laughing with God is impossible for them. It’s easier to take offense and shoot down free speech. Without of freedom of speech, there’s no freedom of religion. No democracy can survive without having both.
As a young teenager, I read “Job: A Comedy of Errors” by Robert A. Heinlein, a satirical novel about a modern-day Job who suffers a series of misfortunes through alternating realities. The novel ends with revelation that Job suffered because Jehovah (Christian god) tried to welsh out of a bet with Odin (Norse god), which a higher authority had to settle after Satan intervenes to right the wrongs against Job.
I haven’t read the biblical account of Job until I became a Christian ten years later in college. The Heinlein novel became funnier to me after I became familiar with the source material for the story. Neither the words “bet” nor “wager” appears in the Bible, but that was what God and Satan were doing by tormenting a righteous man to see if he would turn away from God. Most Christians believe this story was about mankind being righteous to the end no matter what happens in life. I always believe that this story said more about God than mankind.
Most Christians lack the capability to have an honest discussion about God if it challenges their literal (or absolute) perceptions of the Bible. When the ministry did a series of lessons on the Book of Job, no one wanted to hear about the Heinlein novel or consider that God might welsh out on a bet. Some people took offense that I would even read something other than the Bible. But no one threatened my life because I mentioned a satirical novel about God during our bible discussions.
Some people did anoint themselves to run me out of the church because I thought differently about God. That took 13 years to happen, where I suffered more than Job did in either the Bible or the Heinlein novel. I’m thinking about writing a satirical account of my misadventures as a Christian in modern-day America. That might offend some people.
I’ve published the controversial Charlie Hebdo cover on my blog because the mainstream media is too afraid of the Islamic terrorists. If this offends you, please leave a comment below or send an email to chris at cdreimer dot com.