As you are likely aware, there are plans for the community center/mosque being built a couple blocks away from Ground Zero. You are also probably aware of the controversy surrounding the issue and that national involvement that has ensued. Maybe you are a part of it. Maybe you’ve written letters, protested or simply been outspoken. I have become aware of the stances my various friends and acquaintances in different circles have taken regarding the matter. Maybe you are one of those who’ve made your voice heard or maybe you haven’t but have strong opinions, too. But I haven’t heard what I’m about to say and that is why I feel I need to say it. This isn’t a political blog, but here is my assessment of the current political climate.
The above link is to an article that describes an observation that the current political climate is charged with anti-Muslim sentiment. I’ve personally seen a resurgence of such statements referring to the information in these e-mails, which state that Muslim terrorists could be deterred by the fear of going to hell and that somehow it is a good idea that we endorse utilizing this fear by dousing suspects in pig’s blood. Furthermore, it is a belief that the Muslims building and planning to attend the Park 51 mosque are suspect of terrorism. I don’t think it’s even necessary that I reference this; it is all over the opines and blogs and social networks and I’ve personally observed it on my own news feed. A couple of things that strike me as wrong about this sentiment are the misinformation about the nature and intent of the project and the wrongful association of all followers of Islam with terrorism. But I’m not even going to get into that in this blog post, because what saddens me most is who is saying these things because Christians are saying these things and I think it is totally inconsistent with the Christian philosophy.
I know I shouldn’t be shocked. I claim to be a Christian and don’t always live up to Christian standards, either. That is kind of the point of following Christ in the first place – you know, realizing we need Someone to follow. But the truth is these statements are meant to be shocking.
I’m just here to clarify, for my non-Christian friends that hate is not what Christ is all about. And I’m here to remind my Christian friends that they follow a God of love, not hate.
If you believe in a hell, do you really want other people to go to hell? Do you really want people to be scared of going to hell?
God’s desire is “that no one should perish but that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9).” The Apostle Paul, who followed Christ, said that he wished he could be accursed for the sakes of those who rejected Christ (Romans 9:1-3). As the famous preacher Jonathan Edwards put it in the sermon The Character of Paul an Example to Christians, “How are those reproved by this, who, when they are abused and suffer reproach or injury, have thereby indulged a spirit of hatred against their neighbor, a prejudice whereby they are always apt to entertain a distrust, and to seek and embrace opportunities against them, and to be sorry for their prosperity, and glad at their disappointments.” (Read the full sermon here.)
When Paul wished he could trade places with others in order that they might be saved, he was exemplifying Christ, Who did just that (2 Corinthians 5:21). Christ told us to love our enemies (Luke 6:27-36), so what if the terrorists indirectly culpable for the deaths on 9/11 were building the Cordoba House and now want to send a different message? We have to give them that chance. What if the intent of the mosque turns out to be sinister after all? Jesus said, “Turn the other cheek (Matthew 5:38-40).”
What an unbelievable thing to say! Precisely. Christianity sounds crazy. We inherently want justice. Jesus was a revolutionary.
For this reason, Rush Limbaugh and other Conservatives are popular. Jesus – the real Jesus – isn’t.
But popularity isn’t what matters. Don’t quote the talk shows because I can quote that many Bible verses that point towards forgiveness (Luke 11:2-4 and 17: 1-6 to name just a couple more passages).
“Okay, that’s all very well and good,” you might say, “but what about the victims?” You might concede that you do care about Muslims but ask “Why aren’t we being sensitive towards the victims of 9/11?” First of all, not all the families themselves of victims are opposed to the building of the Ground Zero Mosque. I agree that victims should be treated with sensitivity, but that idea has gone too far; it has led to the anti-Christian idea of vengeance. Recently I found this article, which suggested that victims can never be truly healed and in fact relive their torture until the perpetrators pay for their crimes so much they feel what they feel. This obviously goes against the whole concept of reconciliation, and Christians are given a ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18-20). Our relationship with God is the basis for how we treat others.
No matter which way your religious convictions sway or how you feel about a mosque at Ground Zero – say it is tasteless and tactless and totally insensitive and bogus – this is America and it’s supposed to be a free country. At the very least, Americans ought to acknowledge and respect the right of others to practice their religions.