Park 51 and Anti-Muslim Sentiment

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.

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6 thoughts on “Park 51 and Anti-Muslim Sentiment

  1. I don’t consider myself a Christian, but I was raised as one and through that lens, you are 100% correct. The goal, as Christians, is to do good, and understand that though people are not perfect, you can follow in the steps of Christ and do the best thing for your fellow humans. The whole Koran and Muslim hating thing is so far from that, it’s ridiculous. It’s like these people don’t even know the teachings of their own religion.

    The goal is not to tell people they’re going to hell and be happy with that because on some level, you believe yourself to be better than them. The goal is to try to help people away from that path. However, people of a different religion aren’t going to hell for the simple fact of being from a different religion. From my understanding, the god of Judaism, Islam, and Christianity is the same god, just with different philosophies, stories, and ways of worshiping that god. If a person lives a good life and is kind, but happens to be Muslim, that’s okay. Some of these Christian extremists aren’t taking it that way, and it’s sad.

    Christians are supposed to be tolerant of differences. That’s not what’s happening in some of these pockets of them, though. I think they need an education on what their religion really teaches.

  2. Hm… I have mixed feeling about the whole thing. I had never heard that bit about the pigs; I think that’s horrible. Wow. Anyhoo…

    On one hand, I understand how “not all Muslims are terrorists” (such as in a wrongful association), and how some Muslims may want to rectify the situation and give back, as it were. The article about the nature and intent of the project sounds wonderful on the surface, but – and correct me if I’m wrong – isn’t it a pillar of Islamic belief that infidels (any unbeliever) should be killed? Or, at the very least, that the death of an infidel in the name of Allah is a good thing? Why would we support the project for what basically amounts to a mosque-centered building when this is what their faith preaches?

    We don’t always follow the news, but Phil is better at following news stories online better than I. He read that Muslims often erect some sort of structure or monument to claim victory over an area of destruction – so the fact that Muslims wish the build this “community center” in this specific spot is highly suspect. If this is the case, it definitely adds insult to injury.

    It’s not up to us to seek revenge, that’s for sure – justice is in God’s hands. But IMHO that does not mean we sit idly by; and turning the other cheek shouldn’t turn you into a doormat.

    I have to disagree with Amanda – Christians are NOT supposed to be “tolerant of differences.” We are supposed to be loving and accepting of people, but not of those differences which are offensive to God. That Bible verse about being “in the world, but not of the world” comes to mind.

    Becoming tolerant, to me, is becoming familiar or more comfortable with something that should otherwise make us cringe; comforming to the world’s standards. As Christians we are told in Romans not to be comformed to the patterm of the world. So while we can be loving and forgiving, we don’t need to be encouraging of those things which are opposed to our beliefs.

  3. Karla, I’m not really sure about the particulars of Islamic beliefs. I just know the basics. But until I’ve studied it, I wouldn’t be so sure about that part. As is it, it really annoys me when people accuse Christians of supporting genocide or slavery because that stuff is in the Bible. Not to mention, a huge percentage of Muslims are cultural Muslims only.
    I’m not saying that individual Christians should go ahead and give money to the project in order to support it or anything and I don’t THINK you mean to say that our individual opinions should become law. No matter what your beliefs, this is America. They have a constitutional right and we can appeal to their better nature but the government has absolutely no right supporting the majority in repressing the rights of the minority.

  4. No, of course not – our individual opinions should not become law – I hope it didn’t sound like that’s what I was saying. Although we are a democracy, so doesn’t it only make sense if the majority rules? A fact which doesn’t always equal “fairness.” Take the abortion issue – the majority of people [it would seem] are in favor of abortion, which takes away the rights of the unborn.

    You’re right – United States citizens DO have certain rights, rights which were founded on Christian principles, and have since been skewed with each successor in the White House (e.g. separation of church and state). Aside from a rights issue, though, if there ARE objections to the project, who says anyone (Muslim or otherwise) has the right to do whatever they please? I’m sure there are plenty of construction projects that get turned down for one reason or another. We can’t even build a shed in our backyard w/o the proper permits and approval!

    I was just pointing out how a one might disagree with the project – and not for unfounded reasons – and voicing his/her opinions (within reason, of course) isn’t wrong. As aforementioned, I do agree wholeheartedly that we shouldn’t HATE, wish for revenge, try to take justice into our own hands.

  5. If we were a Democracy, it would make sense if majority rules — but that is why we have a republic. A republic allows the minority to have a say also. Opinion on abortion is moot because it was not legislation that made it legal — the Supreme Court did. The only reason we vote for pro-life or pro-choice representatives is because of consistency in belief. We vote for pro-life or pro-choice presidents in the hopes that they can stack the courts.
    Whether the principles were Christian or not, the founding fathers gave rights to all citizens, not just Christians. Municipalities have power unless they ignore those rights; hence, you can’t build a shed in your back yard. In this case, NYC is making an exception to the rule, though. It would be like Exeter singling you specifically out to outlaw you from building your shed because you wanted to use it to store Bibles or whatever.
    As I pointed out, just because they CAN, doesn’t mean they SHOULD, but neither should the federal government be involved or our response be what it has been.

  6. HA! Shows you how much I know – “I pledge allegiance to the flag and to the REPUBLIC…” I felt like reading up on the definition, which amused me:

    “A republic is a form of government in which the people, or some significant portion of them (aside: to me, this is the majority, which is why I immediately thought democracy), retain supreme control over the government. The term is generally also understood to describe a government where most decisions are made with reference to established laws, rather than the discretion of a head of state.”

    “Established laws” referencing the Constitution, I imagine.

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