It’s not often I get involved in political diatribes and dissertations, but the furor over the “Ground Zero” mosque has become so loud and disruptive that I find it hard to sit on the sidelines any longer. The news that a Florida church is promoting “International Burn a Quran Day” on the ninth anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks is stomach-churning in the extreme. Islam is a hate-filled religion — when Christians are burning Qurans?
I’m a Christian. I say that proudly. But at the same time, I question the actions of other Christians who become hysterical at the mere mention of the building of this mosque, the Cordoba House. I too am uncomfortable at the thought of the mosque being built so near the site of the terrible tragedy. The terrorist attack has left terrible scars on our nation, and yes, perhaps the building of this worship place is insensitive. But they have the right to do it.
And yes, I’ve heard the argument that simply because one has the right to do something does not make it right to do. But that doesn’t stop the Rev. Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church. Why aren’t Christians screaming in the streets against them? No, we avert our eyes, shrug our shoulders, and ignore him. We pretend he doesn’t exist, but where’s the outrage? Where’s the hysteria on a par with the hysteria over the mosque? What he is doing is equally stomach-churning; no, he is worse, in fact, because he’s not worshiping God. He is spitting on the graves of our American heroes, and he is spitting in the name of God.
What about the Ku Klux Klan sponsoring American highway cleanup efforts? That’s pretty offensive, to me. But here’s the thing: we don’t have the right to not be offended. To not have our feelings hurt. To not be outraged. But we do have the right to worship as we see fit. Our military men and women are fighting for that right as we sit here and bicker about it this minute. How dare we sign internet petitions screeching about Muslim insensitivity when we are the ones in the wrong? We are the ones trying to stifle their rights, after all. Make no mistake — as long as they are citizens of this country, they do have that right.
I do understand why so many are upset. It’s a painful reminder of that dark day. The internet is rife with rumors: Cordoba House is supposedly so-named as a celebration of Muslim conquest, the funding sources are questionable, and more. But I don’t understand the absolute hysteria. We who have been educated in this country should have had enough social studies, government and economics — something — to understand how the Constitution works. We should know we can’t just randomly ban things because we don’t like them, because they make us uncomfortable.
There are some things Christians, in particular, need to remember. First, that many Muslims are direct descendants of Abraham. God made a covenant with Abraham to make a great nation of his descendants (all of them), and we’d do well to remember that. They may not be God’s chosen people in the same way that Jewish people are, but they are very closely related and as such deserve our respect. Second, Judaism, Islam, and Christianity are all Abrahamic religions. We may not agree on everything, but we have no business behaving as if each is the enemy (regardless of what our relationship has been in the past).
Perhaps we Christians need to stop spending so much time reading editorials and blogs and more time reading our Bibles.