Friday, July 23, 2010

Regarding the NYC proposed mosque

All religions subject to U.S. Constitution

Up north in New York City a Muslim Center has been approved for construction by local boards in lower Manhattan. They propose a 15-story community center which includes a prayer room, offices, meeting rooms, gym, swimming pool and a performing arts center.

The center is not at Ground Zero but two blocks away. It is not designed as a local mosque but to serve the wider community. It also is meant to improve interfaith relationships among people of every faith. In a nutshell it is promoting tolerance.

A hallmark of American culture is being a multicultural nation, welcoming people from everywhere (legally, of course). Another hallmark is even more amazing: America is a multi-religious society (but a few folks are not sure).

The last couple of years many have rallied their support for the U.S. Constitution. In their rallies they use bright, though weird signs, and declare they “want the Constitution back,” whatever that means.

Just to refresh our memories, the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution still reads the same as in 1791: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

Regarding the religion clause, where are these protesters who love the Constitution and believe it should be observed so faithfully? Why are they now opposing the free exercise of religion? What is it in the single sentence of the First Amendment they do not understand? Why such hate for certain people simply because some of them are bad? Have they voided the Greatest Commandment: love thy neighbor?

Apparently those who oppose another’s faith, are insecure in their own faith. When brought to the test, can our faith really give us inner peace and victory in the trials of life?

Are these insecure believers picking and choosing from the U.S. Constitution just as is often done with the Bible?

The American Muslim leaders have denounced their radical fundamentalist majority and the slaughter of the innocents on 9/11. They are on record as welcoming anyone who loves peace to give toward the project.

To lump all Muslims in one sack is as foolish as putting all Catholics or Baptists in one pile. To say no to Islam because it is foreign-based is not consistent; so is the Roman Catholic Church, demonized here at first, but now it is a thriving church (like all others, not perfect).

I remember the hullabaloo when a Hindu Temple was built near Austin. It scared many a Christian at the time. If a Christian’s faith is so shaky to fear other religions, he or she best sign up for kindergarten-level Sunday school.

I have heard numbers of Baptists tell other parents, “Don’t send your kids to Baylor, they will lose their faith.” If a person’s faith is that weak, they best review their own spiritual walk. Before the Apostle Peter denied his Lord, he continued following Jesus, as the historian Luke wrote “But Peter was following at a distance” (Luke 22:54). Stay close, we are “No longer babes in Christ…” the Apostle Paul advised his followers.

New York's Mayor Michael Bloomberg said: "If somebody wants to build a religious house of worship, they should do it and we shouldn't be in the business of picking which religions can and which religions can't. I think it's fair to say if somebody was going, on that piece of property, build a church or a synagogue, nobody would be yelling and screaming. And the fact of the matter is that Muslims have a right to do it, too."

John L. Esposito, professor of Religion and International Affairs at Georgetown University (DC) sums up what I am trying to say: “Opposition to the Muslim Center goes against democratic principles, is Islamophobic.”



Thomas A. Wiebe said...

Thank you, Britt. I am a fan of your honest dialog; this post is no exception. I agree with you that it is vital to maintain our freedom of worship.

Another point I would add is that we need to broaden our common understanding with those who abhor terrorism, not reject their help in leading our communities away from violence. Perhaps you might be interested in my post on the same subject.

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