On the other side of the argument, there is a legitimate question about the merit of giving government the power to proscribe robust and offensive debate between competing belief systems. Should the prophet Elijah have been prevented from offending the worshippers of Baal when he mocks their god: “Call with a loud voice, for he is a god. [Perhaps] he is chatting or he is on a chase or he is on a journey; perhaps he is sleeping and will awaken[v]”?
“My fury will rage against them on that day (because of their sins), and I will abandon them and hide My face from them, and they will be consumed, and many evils and troubles will befall them, and they will say on that day, 'Is it not because our God is no longer among us, that these evils have befallen us?' And I will hide My face on that day, because of all the evil they have committed, when they turned to other deities.[viii]”
It is puzzling that God would still be hiding his face after the people have come to the realisation that something is wrong by saying “, 'Is it not because our God is no longer among us”. Yet, this could be interpreted as a complaint about being a victim of God’s rejection or hostility from other communities, perhaps even unfairly, rather than acceptance of responsibility for the part people in our own community play in driving people apart[ix]. In both cases, between people and God and between communities there can be a focus on the consequences and symptoms of damaged relationship, rather than the causes at the core of the relationship itself [x]. It is to this great task that we must now turn. Each of us taking responsibility for what we can do to ensure we all learn to respect each other as neighbours, fellow citizens, and as siblings: the children of Adam and Eve.