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There’s been plenty in the news about the fundamentalist Christian congregation in Gainesville, Fla., that talked about burning the Quran and the debate about the mosque near Ground Zero.

Personally, I hope that the mosque is built on the proposed site in New York City. When fundraising begins, I’ll most likely make a donation.

Not that I’m a Muslim. Actually, I am a Christian. And I would like Muslims to know that I don’t hold them responsible for the incidents surrounding 9/11 any more than I hold Christians responsible for threats to burn the Quran in Gainesville.

The one story you may have missed amid these other stories is the one about the creationists who are celebrating the third anniversary of the opening of the Creation Museum in Kentucky.

Because I live in Kentucky, I’ve been paying attention. I’ve never been to the museum, but I’m planning on visiting soon, as you should, too. You may not believe in the creationist worldview, just as I do not, but our economy could benefit from your visit.

Some say the Creation Museum is more fun than the Animal Kingdom at Disney World. More believable, too. I have my doubts about both.

Supporters of the museum may be the same people who secretly admire the Gainesville preacher and are sympathetic to the opposition to the mosque near Ground Zero. And they are celebrating the fact that more than one million visitors have come to northern Kentucky to see the place that depicts that era when dinosaurs and humans supposedly co-existed.

I know most readers of this article don’t take these people too seriously, but well you should. Their numbers are greater than you could possibly imagine. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if the recent Glenn Beck bonanza and Sarah Palin party in Washington, D.C., was made up of creationists in a ratio of 10 to 1.

Here are a few of the more common beliefs shared by creationists:

·    Creationists, most of whom are fundamentalist Christians, do not accept evolutionary theory.

·    Creationists believe that the Genesis account of creation is a scientific and reliable treatise on the origins of the universe.

·    They believe that the universe is not billions of years old but only about 6,000 years old.

·    They believe that when the Bible says the universe was created in six days, it really means six 24-hour periods.

·    They believe that the dinosaurs existed with humans and that whatever caused their extinction spared humans because humans, unlike all other sentient beings, have a soul and were created in the “image of God.”

·    Creationists believe that despite carbon dating, artifacts and fossils are really not millions of years old but were created by God with the “appearance of age.”

I am amazed at creationists for waging what is a losing war with science, mistakenly thinking their devotion to the Bible, their misinterpretation of the Genesis account of creation, and their awkward explanations of the origins of the universe will somehow make them successful.

What I find most amazing is the fact that they would suggest that God created the universe with the “appearance of age.” Doesn’t that make God out to be the ultimate deceiver? Why would God try to trick people into thinking the earth is older than it is, if it really isn’t?

But, there’s something far more serious here that binds together all three of these stories.

What is it?

It is a little monster called fear. Creationists may busy themselves trying to make the case that Genesis is as much a scientific explanation of creation as it is a spiritual one and trying to blame Darwin for the moral demise that they see in America. Christian fundamentalists may defend their actions on the grounds that Jesus is the only way to God and that, if Muslims don’t convert to Christianity, they’re going to burn in hell. And the protesters around Ground Zero can say that their opposition to the mosque is only out of respect for those who lost their lives in the Twin Towers.

But behind all the rhetoric are frightened people – people who, instead of living by faith, have chosen to let fear and its corollaries (suspicion, mistrust, division, anxiety and so forth) overwhelm them.

No society can survive obsessed with fear. For people of faith to live in fear is to not live by faith. One of the principle purposes of all religions, Christianity notwithstanding, is to free people from fear and so enable faith to flourish, God-realization to occur, and humans to get along.

You can walk into any church, mosque or synagogue today and find a collection of people with very strong beliefs. But having a belief system neither makes you a person of faith nor a person who lives from a place of trust. People cling to beliefs when they are uncertain and fearful. The more fearful they are, the stronger and more intolerant their beliefs.

People of faith, however, may live with uncertainty and in much ambiguity. Yet, they do so while at peace with themselves, others and the world. This is the kind of peace Jesus talked about, and faith is the pathway to it. Fear, on the other hand, is the way to mistrust, division and, well, you draw your own conclusions.

Steve McSwain is the president of the Foundation for Excellence in Giving Inc.

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