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“Mosque at Ground Zero” and religious freedom

14 Aug 2010

Freedom? Yes! Mosque? No! | Christianity Today | A Magazine of Evangelical ConvictionAnnotated – See excerpts (bulleted) after my comments in the Read more.

I am amazed at these statements of some of these big name Christians who don’t seem to “get” the idea that the Muslims building this mosque reject the interpretation of Islam held by those who engage in acts of terror. Should the acts of an extreme religious minority be reason to withhold some religious liberty to others of that religion (who disavow their actions)? Should the government deny Christians the right to build a church near the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City which the “Christian” Timothy McVeigh bombed, killing hundreds?

Among those who realize (or at least verbally acknowledge) this difference between extremists and the majority of Muslims (e.g. Colson – see his original commentary at http://www.breakpoint.org/bpcommentaries/entry/13/15010 ), there needs to be a distinguishing between choosing to limit one’s (group’s) own action (Colson’s example of the Pope and the nuns praying at Auschwitz) and demanding that the other choose to do this – esp. when published in a column read by Christians – as opposed say to a private letter to the imam who wants to build the mosque. If Colson REALLY wants to appeal to the sensitivity and understanding of the imam wanting to build, why does he do it in this context. This would understandably make one wonder what Colson’s real agenda here is – which he actually states: “If they … don’t have the prudence to respect the sensibilities of others, then Congress ought to step in. With the upcoming elections, I’m sure your congressman will be all ears to your concerns.” This threatening statement is clearly a call for the government to deny these Muslims freedom of religion.

tags: Islam Christianity interfaith interfaith relations USA mosque religious freedom

  • Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC), said one could be against the center while still maintaining that the group should have the freedom to have a mosque in lower Manhattan.
  • BreakPoint’s Chuck Colson co-wrote the Manhattan Declaration, a document that places religious liberty next to life and marriage as leading issues of Christian conscience. But he was “distressed—aghast, in fact—over the controversy about building a mosque at ground zero.” For Colson, the issue was not a question of religious liberty.
    “The construction of the mosque at ground zero is not about tolerance. And it isn’t about religious liberty. This is about prudence: the good sense to do what is right,” said Colson. “If [Muslims]—and Mayor Bloomberg—don’t have the prudence to respect the sensibilities of others, then Congress ought to step in. With the upcoming elections, I’m sure your congressman will be all ears to your concerns.”

  • Family Research Council’s (FRC) Ken Blackwell disagreed with those who “see the building of a mosque within sight of the place where 3,000 Americans were murdered on 9/11 as a test of American tolerance and openness.” He said President Obama should “take a strong stance against any mosque at Ground Zero” and “stand up for Americans this time!”
  • Faith in Public Life announced that 40 Christian, Jewish, and Muslim leaders signed a statement saying they were “deeply troubled by the xenophobia and religious bigotry that has characterized some of the opposition to a proposed Islamic center and mosque near where the World Trade Center towers once stood.
  • American Family Association’s (AFA) Bryan Fischer said that this and plans for all other new mosques should be banned because “each Islamic mosque is dedicated to the overthrow of the American government.”
    “If a mosque was willing to publicly renounce the Koran and its 109 verses that call for the death of infidels, renounce Allah and his messenger Mohammed, publicly condemn Osama bin Laden, Hamas, and Abdelbaset al Megrahi (the Lockerbie bomber), maybe then they could be allowed to build their buildings. But then they wouldn’t be Muslims at that point, now would they?” said Fischer.
    In response to Fischer, AFA’s Elijah Friedeman wrote that mosques—including the Islamic center in Manhattan—should be allowed to be built. “If we ignore the legal foundation of our nation, we will be left in a legal quicksand with no protection from others who want to suspend our freedoms when they feel like it. I would give the Devil the benefit of the law, if for no other reason than my own safety,” wrote Friedeman.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. 17 Aug 2010 5:15 pm

    Good points, John, and I appreciate and encourage you in your fight for discretion. We Christians (humans?) have the bad habit of only seeing one side of the story and perpetuating information that only supports our bias. Obviously, not all Muslims are of the radical nature of those behind 9-11 and those suggesting that this is not an issue of constitutionally protected religious freedom ought to really think about the precedent that would be set by disallowing the mosque for religious reasons. I think it would quickly be turned against them. Yet, I must say that it is difficult to trust an Imam’s statement about being against such radicalism. What else would he say? And what is the motivation for placing the mosque there? Where is the funding coming from? I have to agree that though this is a religious issue, it is also a political one due to these historical events, and the reality is that both the mosque and the fundamentalists serve the same Allah, though they may disagree sharply on the means. This is enough for me to agree that it is in bad taste and highly suspicious to build the mosque at ground zero.

    • 23 Aug 2010 8:21 am

      Kyle,
      Sorry for the delay in a response. First, thank you for taking the time to comment. I would agree with you that if religious freedom is withheld from one religion, it could easily be withheld from another.

      I realize in your next comment your stepped back in some way from your statements in the second half of this comment. I was glad to see that, because I was bothered by your reticence to “trust an Imam’s statement”. I feel it is important to trust people unless you have a reason not to – and your stated support for your lack of trust is very weak in my opinion. (“What else would he say?” and suspecting motivation other than what he stated.) How would we feel if someone were to say these things about us? Again, how would you feel if someone said, “The reality is that both Kyle and Timothy McVeigh serve the same God, though they may disagree sharply on the means.” – and then opposed your church? So, I was glad to see what you said in your next comment.

      Furthermore, I would encourage you to read the article about Feisal Abul Rauf (the imam behind the mosque) that I refer to in my most recent post. I think that you will find that there is, on the contrary, ample evidence to TRUST Abdul Rauf’s statements against radicalism.

  2. Scott permalink
    14 Aug 2010 12:43 pm

    As much as I had heard about this story from Christian sources, none of them bothered to mention the fact that the Mosque was being built by a group that was seeking to repudiate radical Islam and their acts of terrorism. It is a critical point, but I only heard that point from secular news sources. That is troubling. Especially as it could be assumed that this critical (and true) fact was left out because it would undermine their arguments against it.

    • 14 Aug 2010 5:49 pm

      Hi Scott,

      Thanks for your comment. Definitely troubling. Rather than replying here, I am creating a new post.

      -John

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