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Wed, Feb 28 2007

Driving home a point?

Have you been hearing about the continuing flack over a portion of Muslim cab drivers at airports who refuse to accept passengers who carry alcohol, and the possibility of drivers being fined or losing their licenses over it? There are claims that some drivers also refuse to take passengers with service dogs, though reports vary on the frequency of such things. One blogger, who I belive is Muslim, mentioned the fact that these sorts of taboos sometimes come up in personal choices or in certain geographical areas, and are not always a strict rule of Islam.

I have to confess being puzzled as to why someone would purposely choose to work driving people from a specific location where a great many of the customers would be carrying alcohol. I'm apparently not the only one who wonders about this. If the object is to test the limits of religious tolerance, some drivers may find they have won the battle but lost the war. If they're the majority of cabbies at airports these days and they form lines to take fares and then wave people off because of forbidden cargo, they shouldn't be surprised that tired travelers aren't happy about it.

Religious freedom is near and dear to my heart, particularly since I belong to a Christian denomination that has focused a great deal of study on the original meaning of the fourth commandment, a point that has sometime put us at odds with the Christian majority and has even caused some members difficulty in the workplace as they sought to follow their faith. We've even had a few lawsuits over Sabbath keeping. But the majority of Adventists do their jobs without a hitch and they manage to work out Sabbath issues with professional-minded employers who are willing to accommodate a sincere, valued worker. And we don't neglect to take care of emergencies or infirm people when the sun goes down on Friday night. That would be neither sane nor spiritual. It seems to me that one needs to approach these matters with reason and caring or else be in danger of coming across as a cold-blooded separatist who cares for neither people nor the One we claim created people.

There seems to be some talk that outside influences may have been responsible for at least some of the cab drivers' refusals to take certain fares. That possibility is a good lesson for any of us who choose to follow any religion or denomination. Politicians, peddlers and extremist factions with an axe to grind have a way of presuming to speak for others when it suits their purposes. We need to study and learn for ourselves so that we know exactly what it is we really believe. That way, when controversies come up, we'll be flexible enough to lovingly practice what we preach in any given situation while still staying firmly planted on the principles of our faith.

posted at: 08:48 | category: /Religious and Spiritual | link to this entry

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