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During a closing monologue for his HBO show “Real Time,” Bill Maher stated in his typical sarcastic fashion that, “If you’re a Christian who supports killing your enemies and torture, you have to come up with a new name for yourself.” Ouch. Maher is a self-proclaimed atheist who is ruthlessly efficient at using comedy to highlight the contradictions and hypocrisies of Christianity in general and conservative Christianity in particular.

Maher was responding specifically to the exuberance many Americans overtly expressed in the wake of the killing of Osama bin Laden, the architect of the infamous 9-11 terrorist attacks. On May 1, 2011, President Obama announced that bin Laden had been killed by Navy SEAL Team 6 in a “kill or capture” mission authorized by the president. In his interview with 60 Minutes, Obama responded to those who have questioned the operation by saying that, “Anyone who would question that the perpetrator of mass murder on American soil didn’t deserve what they got needs to have their head examined.” But, Obama who is a thoughtful Christian, surely realizes that based on the Bible’s accounts of Jesus’ life and ministry, it is clear that he would have some questions about anyone being killed or assassinated – even those who are responsible for massive death.

We have to keep in mind that Jesus lived in a Roman Empire ruled by those who perpetuated the death of innocent people as a way of life. Yet, according to the Christian Gospels he still instructed his followers to love their neighbors, as well as their enemies, and to pray for those who persecute them. Let’s be honest that when it comes to national defense or criminal justice, most of us ignore the verses that call us to be a peaceful and forgiving people. It’s not in our human nature to be that darn good.
That’s why we as Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, those of other faiths or none at all, should pause to reflect in this post-bin Laden period. I completely understand why people were celebrating that the leader of the hate-filled movement that has killed thousands has come to and end. I definitely did not shed any tears for the man. But, as a Christian (albeit an imperfect one) and an American, I recognize that we as Church, a country, and a world continue to fall short of our humanity.

Maher said, “Martin Luther King gets to call himself a Christian, because he actually practiced loving his enemies.” We live in a dangerous world in which evil does exist and unfortunately violence will be used to maintain our safety and security. But, we must never be arrogant with self-righteousness, because sometimes the enemy is not out there somewhere. Sometimes the enemy is within us.
Rod Garvin writes about politics, culture, faith and entrepreneurship. He is currently producing a reality-style documentary called Southern Blend: A Dating Experiment. You can follow him on Twitter @rodgarvin.