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Bin Laden’s death a tough subject for the pulpit

Associated Press | 5/10/2011, 10:49 p.m.

Qazwini, who delivered his sermon in a large, circular hall filled to capacity, said the Quran is clear that someone who kills one innocent person “is doomed to hell forever.” And the imam was particularly incensed that bin Laden “committed atrocities against innocent people ... while he was calling ‘Allahu akbar,’” or “God is great.”

“He’s responsible for tarnishing the image of Islam in this country,” he said. “We’re happy to see the man who caused so much pain for Muslims in this country is gone ... finally.”

Before the sermon, Qazwini said Muslims are discouraged from showing jubilation over death, but cheering the news of bin Laden’s demise marks an occasion where “justice was served.”

At Armitage Baptist Church on Chicago's near west side, Pastor Charles Lyons told his congregation Sunday that sometimes “evil must be stopped.”

“We do not rejoice in the death of the man named Osama bin Laden (but) ... truth provides a platform for justice,” he said.

Church member Angelia Parker said bin Laden’s death should have been a time for contemplation, not cheering in the streets.

“I think that was kind of weird,” said Parker, who was passing out roses to mothers after the service to mark the Mother’s Day holiday. “It was like, ‘Are you kidding me?’ We are celebrating this person’s death? We didn’t celebrate in the streets when Saddam Hussein was killed.”

The Rev. Bill Kelly, priest at Saint Mary of the Assumption in Dedham, Massachusetts, near Boston, said he was taken aback by the celebrations because he detected bloodlust. But he added that the emotional reaction is understandable.

“This is 10 years of pent-up anger, hurt, frustration, especially here in the Boston area because the crimes were initiated here,” he said, referring to the two planes that took off from Boston before crashing into the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.

    At Second Baptist Church, the oldest black church in South Los Angeles, church member Goward Horton said he was happy about bin Laden’s death and didn’t think that conflicted with his beliefs.

“We should be allowed to have relief, happiness, joy. Especially if you were touched by what happened on 9/11,” Horton said. “Me, personally, I’m not one to take to the streets in celebration over his death, but I understood when people did it.”

    The Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan Buddhist spiritual leader and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, said last week in Los Angeles that although bin Laden may have deserved compassion and even forgiveness as a human being, it is sometimes necessary to take counter-measures.

“Forgiveness doesn’t mean forget what happened,” he told students at the University of Southern California.

Reform Rabbi Eric Wisnia, of Congregation Beth Chaim, in Princeton, New Jersey, observed that during the Passover holiday that ended April 26, Jews recount the 10 plagues carried out against Egyptian aggressors by dipping their fingers in wine 10 times. But they are forbidden to lick their fingers, lest they take pleasure in the pain of others.