Thursday, November 29, 2007

Capital Punishment For Religion?

I recently read a report of a 85-year old man who was arrested and sentenced to capital punishment, i.e. death, without trial, and this penalty for the mere reason of practicing his personal religion which was not recognized by the government. I think the incident was some time ago, thankfully.
Such a terrible thing, right? Everyone and anyone who reads the report can have three different views:

1. The extreme cruelty of the government and total extinction of religious freedom and/or respect for other people's religions. We should all be extremely thankful for the freedom we have here in Malaysia to practice our separate religions, regardless of the official religion.

2. The crime of the man himself for not obeying the national laws. The law clearly stated that only the recognized religions specified by the government are to be practiced, and all others strictly banned. The "religous" practice of the guy must have been pretty gruesome, I imagine. Think about it - shrine prostitution, ritual murders, and human sacrifices all deserve capital punishment, don't you think? The guy could have done some of these things and killed someone. The actual act was not mentioned in the report.

3. The boldness of the old man to stand firm on his religious views and beliefs regardless of the law. He must have been a tremendously devoted man to have dared to do whatever it is he did and be sentenced to death. He had such a conviction that his god(s) was the almighty and above all others to have done it. Well, give him credit for that, would you?

So in light of these views, would you have done what the old man did? I mean, gruesome rituals aside, would you have stuck firm to your beliefs even if the country forbade you to practice it? Would you have risked your all - your life, your freedom, your family - just to show some devotion to your god(s)?

I personally... am not so sure. We sing about it, we talk about it, but if I were to be faced with death or imprisonment for the sake of my God... ... ...
Like Paul said, to live is Christ and to die is gain. I think what he meant was that no matter what happens, he would have God on his side. So, here's my verdict - I love life and believe God wants me to enjoy it, but if ever my faith tested, I pray that I would have the boldness and guts to stand for what I believe.

By the way... the 85-year-old man I mentioned - his name was Daniel... heard of him before? He prayed to his God at a time when only the king - King Darius of Babylon was to be bowed down to. Remember what happened? He was thrown into the lion's den, expected to be mauled and eaten by the hungry cats. However, apparently his God was protecting him and shut the mouths of the lions. When King Darius came to check, he saw Daniel, untouched and probably playing with the lions, so he immediately got him out of the den and acknowledged Daniel's God as Lord. The officials who had planned the fall of Daniel were in turn, thrown to the lions and gobbled up in a flash, showing that the lions weren't sick or suffering from anorexia nervosa.

What a mighty God!!!

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