prayerIf there's one thing that can be said about the death of Osama bin Laden, it's that it has given us Americans a crash course in what to do when an evil terrorist mastermind has fallen.

First things first: pop the champagne. Scale a traffic sign chanting, "Hey Hey Hey, Goodbye." Remind yourself that no celebration is too raucous in the face of justice. Second, cash in on the event with t-shirts and coffee mugs making fun of the deceased. And, finally, submit a prayer request at your church asking all parishioners to pray for the enemy leader's soul.

It sounds like a joke, but it's not: A parishioner actually made a prayer request for Osama bin Laden at the Holy Name of Jesus Catholic Church in Palm Springs because as he explained, "[Bin Laden] needs forgiveness and compassion from God."

According to the church pastor, Holy Name has never turned down a prayer request and won't do so in this circumstance. But that doesn't mean the other church-goers are happy about it. In fact, the request is proving quite divisive among the parishioners. Here's Louis Pizzano Sr., explaining why he prefers to pray for American soldiers rather than Bin Laden:

I just don't think it's right, I really don't ... I think what's happened to the American people, what he's done, what he was planning to do and because we killed him, it doesn't stop there.

You've got to wonder why someone would make a request that would upset, divide, and alienate other parishioners at a time when so many are already hurting. There's no logical explanation other than perhaps he wanted the attention that such a contentious appeal would instigate. Instead of banding together with his fellow church-goers to reflect on the events that have transpired, he's put himself at the center of this controversy. He's divided his church during one of those time when people need it the most.

Many religions are about forgiveness and love -- love for everyone, even enemies. But people need to come to that forgiveness and love in their own time, not have it be forced upon them in a public church gathering. Bin Laden is a face that, even dead, incites rage, fear, and, most acutely, pain. Why is it so hard to allow people to grieve and move on from his death without forcing them to decide whether he's deserving of prayers?

Do you think the Bin Laden prayer request was too soon?

 

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