[A few weeks ago a man was killed for no other reason than the fact that he was gay](http://www.thehoya.com/news/capitol-vigil-for-gay-student/). Matthew Shepard was tortured and tied to a fence to die, a message for all the world to see. I found that one of the sickest parts of this whole episode was what happened after he died. A Reverend and his congregation decided to picket Matthew Shepard’s funeral and their reason was that they were doing God’s work. Why is it that we let the people with the most extreme religious views become the voices for those religions? I have been aware of this for quite a while, but this event forces me to begin to truly examine it. I personally do not subscribe to any particular religion, but I do consider my spirituality to be at the core of my being. Because of this, I find it particularly disturbing that anyone can commit hateful acts or say hateful things, and think that it is okay as long as they hide behind the shield of religion. Even on this campus, I’ve noticed that there are people who use things like Catholic heritage and tradition as a platform from which to tear down anything that they don’t like or that might threaten their status quo. Because of these things, I have decided to talk about someone to whom many of these people attribute the roots or their hatred. This is a person for whom I have great admiration and respect, and whom I consider to be one of my greatest teachers as well. That person is Jesus Christ. Christ’s message at its heart was, and still is, revolutionary. His idea for the world was one that replaced judgment with compassion. He never turned anyone away from him as unworthy. At night, all people were invited to eat at his table, no matter what their position in society was. In fact, the powerful people in his society hated and feared him because of his openness. He was constantly at odds with the religious and societal leaders because he encouraged people to think for themselves, and not to just obey the rules that someone had given them. He was the champion and the uplifter of the weak and the oppressed, not an angry preacher condemning anything that made him think. Essentially, he realized that the strength and essence of the human spirit was love and acceptance, not hatred and fear. Because of all of this, he was killed. It seems that, when someone forces other people to examine the ignorance or injustices that they commit in their lives, that someone cannot be allowed to live. It is time for us to reclaim our greatest teachers and heroes from those that are hateful, angry, and fearful. Perhaps if we ourselves took the time to really learn about these people, we would take the strength from those who use their legacies to spew hatred. The Open Forum appears Tuesdays in The Hoya.

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