President Obama's peaceful outreach in the Middle East has been received poorly by some bigoted and hate-filled Americans who selectively quote passages from the Quran in an attempt to demonstrate that violence is demanded by the tenets of Islam. Is some of the Quran less than peaceful? Of course. This is a book written more than a millennium ago. For comparison, let's look at another ancient book.
While the Bible certainly contains passages, especially in the New Testament, that promote compassion and love toward fellow humans, there are a number of quotations from the Old Testament that are fully as dangerous-sounding as anything in the Quran.
Here's a little from Exodus 21, including the "eye for an eye" passage:
“If a man beats his male or female slave with a rod and the slave dies as a direct result, he must be punished, 21 but he is not to be punished if the slave gets up after a day or two, since the slave is his property.
"If men who are fighting hit a pregnant woman and she gives birth prematurely [e] but there is no serious injury, the offender must be fined whatever the woman's husband demands and the court allows. 23 But if there is serious injury, you are to take life for life, 24 eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25 burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.
Here are a few of the many unfortunate passages that show up in just a quick search for the word "vengeance."
For the LORD has a day of vengeance, a year of retribution, to uphold Zion's cause.
But that day belongs to the LORD, the Lord Almighty— a day of vengeance, for vengeance on his foes. The sword will devour till it is satisfied, till it has quenched its thirst with blood. For the Lord, the LORD Almighty, will offer sacrifice in the land of the north by the River Euphrates.
"Sharpen the arrows, take up the shields! The LORD has stirred up the kings of the Medes, because his purpose is to destroy Babylon. The LORD will take vengeance, vengeance for his temple."
I will carry out great vengeance on them and punish them in my wrath. Then they will know that I am the LORD, when I take vengeance on them.
The LORD is a jealous and avenging God; the LORD takes vengeance and is filled with wrath. The LORD takes vengeance on his foes and maintains his wrath against his enemies.
What does this all mean? Certainly not that all Christians and Jews are dangerous and to be shunned. The point is that all ancient books are filled with conflicting messages.
Let us seek peace with all.