Right to express religious views

When I noticed Drusilla de Lanor’s June 13 letter, “No offense taken to ‘that guy’ ” (which was a reaction to Brian Redmond’s June 9 letter, “An offensive religious reference“), I thought of how enlightened De Lanor must be.

“That guy on the cross” (a reference made in columnist Amy Chavez’s June 1 article, “Everyone’s own path to enlightenment“) and his mother are the subjects of most of the great artworks of Europe including in De Lanor’s London. The year A.D. 2013 in itself refers to the birth of “that guy.” He is believed by most Christians to be the Son of God. He died the most excruciating death on that same cross. There are more than 2 billion people in the world who claim to be his followers — good, bad or indifferent.

Unlike De Lanor, I’m not an avid reader of Chavez, but I found her original article through the Internet. The full sentence that caused offense to Redmond was: “Don’t worry, many of us find ourselves wanting a little more religious iconography than that guy on the cross.” From a quick read, I gathered that the article is mostly a derogatory critique of Buddhism. I think it is intended to be funny, but I would think condescending would be a better description. I didn’t find myself laughing very much, but then humor like so many other things is in the eye of the beholder.

Why Chavez would feel the need to insert this line referring to Jesus, I don’t know, but might I suggest that she could also have included a throwaway line on another great religious leader to give her article more balance. And who precisely are “many of us”? Friends in journalism? People whom Chavez knows?

I don’t know, but for many of the poorer people worldwide, the “religious iconography” of the cross is sufficient to give them some hope in their tough lives while people like Chavez are writing light, “funny” articles and finding “enlightenment” in their own way.

I am sorry that De Lanor is so “weary” and “disappointed” and takes such offense to Redmond’s “bigoted view” and that she castigates The Japan Times for publishing it.

As a mediocre Christian myself, I take no offense at Chavez’s term, as I wouldn’t see any great necessity in taking her views seriously, and she is entitled to write whatever she wants. I would, however, defend the right of Redmond to express his opinion and hope that The Japan Times continues to print all such viewpoints, including De Lanor’s. I hope De Lanor has stopped shedding “fake tears” by now and is not feeling so “bullied.” I’m sure Redmond didn’t intend to cause so much unnecessary pain.

frank o’brien
shimonoseki, yamaguchi

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.