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Monday, August 23, 2010

Three reasons why "the mosque" should be built

Personally, I find the "mosque at Ground Zero" - the Islamic worship center that is being planned for construction not far away from where the two towers of the World Trade Center once stood - to be as big a "non-issue" as there's been in recent memory. It, like too many other things, is a distraction from matters that are of more dire priority.

So I honestly haven't given the issue much thought until someone over the weekend - and a devout Christian, incidentally - remarked that he hadn't seen one rational argument as to why there shouldn't be a mosque built at that location.

After spending the past few days ruminating on it, I have to conclude... that my friend has observed accurately. And that there even might be more good reasons to allow the mosque to be constructed than raw emotion might have us believe.

My gray matter can tick off three of 'em quite readily...

1. It will be built on private property - As someone who believes that there is a fundamental right to do with property as one sees fit unless it interferes with the rights of others, I am obligated on principle to defend the right for those planning the project to build the so-called "mosque".

2. People have an absolute right to worship God as best as they understand Him - Regardless of whether or not I agree with how they worship God, I must respect the right of others to seek Him, in the good faith that their doing so is as sincere as I would appreciate their respecting my own seeking after Him to the best of my ability and understanding. Put simply: we each have the right to worship God in our own way... but that right ends where the right of others to enjoy the same begins.

3. It will demonstrate that Americans are SERIOUS about the freedom of religion - Some will no doubt claim that I've "gone liberal". I think it's more in line with what the apostle Paul wrote in his letter to the Romans (namely, Romans 12:20): that if one opposed to us is hungry or thirsty then provide for his needs, as this "will heap burning coals on his head". And if Islam is the intolerant ideology that some contend that it is, I can think of few things better to counter it than to prove without exception that we of the Judeo-Christian ethic dare to love all others... which includes those who might be lusting for our destruction.

So yeah. I don't see why the mosque shouldn't be built. As one who holds to the rights of the individual and as a follower of Christ, I can't see where others should be deprived of the liberties that I am also thankful to have.

'Course, if the mosque is built and it does wind up used for nefarious purpose, I also can't but believe that the mosque should be razed to the ground and the site desecrated with pig fat (along with the corpses of any adherents responsible for such acts of violence). Parse that as you will...


Danny de Gracia said...

Aloha Chris,

As always you are right on target! Thanks for posting this. As a Christian my concern is that if we prohibit a mosque from being built on private property it sets a precedent in which one day a Christian church can't be built on private property.

I think the media is exploiting this mosque issue to perpetuate a climate of angst so as to add continued legitimacy to the war mindset which fuels the military-industrial complex and keeps our tax dollars burning and the printing press at the Federal Reserve rolling.

I had a dispute about this very issue on my Facebook wall but I said think about the stupidity of this: someone wants to build a mosque on private property and all these people come out kicking and screaming and crying about "victim's rights" BUT at the same time, the New York Fed uses the AIG bailout as a front to dump billions into foreign banks and we hear crickets chirping and no one protests.

It's time for smarter heads to prevail and for Americans to stop being jerked around and settle down and really think about what it is they are advocating!

Danny de Gracia, II said...

The U.S. government needs to stay the hell away from Islam and leave it and its followers alone. I say that not as someone who endorses Islam but as a Christian who recognizes that the minute you give government the "power tools" to oppress a group of people because of their beliefs you now give government the power to oppress everyone.

We've all studied history. We all know about the Quran's texts on militant evangelism, the Islamic wars, the khilāfa and Spain's reconquista. There is no debating that stuff and it is a matter of record "BUT" I tell you that Islam is not the problem in the 21st century, the problem is that the United States is fueling jihad by bankrolling dictators and subsidizing oppressive Middle Eastern regimes (who, by the way, we have extraordinary rendition agreements with). When a US-subsidized Arab regime oppresses its people, Islam gives the indigenous personnel a natural channel for blowback and stirs up terrorism. For every "terrorist" we kill with a Predator drone along with innocent bystanders who happened to be at the wrong place at the right time we are creating more insurgency. For every expeditionary operation we do on Arab soil on behalf of banks and megacorporations we are stirring up terrorism.

I tell you, we need to just mind our own business, stop trying to control the world with the US military, guard our borders and just let Americans be Americans!

Marco van Bergen said...

Personally I find it inappropriate to build a House of God of whatever religion near a site where a few thousand people died due to extremists of that religion.

And I know that not all Muslims are extremists, but still. The terrorists acted in the name of Allah.

Just my thoughts...

Anonymous said...

Using the above logic, Christian churches should be restricted in areas of Oklahoma City and Mormon churches restricted in southern Utah.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous, the difference is that Timothy McVeigh was an extremist who happened to come from a Christian background (but he was NOT a Christian).

The 9/11 terrorists were extremist Muslims. They performed the acts they performed BECAUSE of their religious beliefs, not in spite of them.

I am opposed to the building of the mosque near ground zero for a number of reasons, but the government does not have the right (constitutionally) to intervene. I think that those who are planning the mosque would do well to achieve their stated goals if they voluntarily decided to build elsewhere.

Anonymous #2

Chris Knight said...

Over the weekend I watched GANDHI again, it came on TCM. Not for the first time I wound up studying the history of India's liberation

And once more, perhaps because of the mosque issue, I found myself examining the life of Gandhi's close friend Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan.

Gaffar Khan, for those who don't know, was a devout Muslim. More than that though he had a devout belief in God. I like to believe that the God of Gaffar Khan is the same God that those of us who profess Judaism or Christianity as our own faith claim to follow. Gaffar Khan was an incredible pacifist. He utterly believed in nonviolence. He helped to start a movement among India's Muslim community: Khudai Khidmatgar ("Servants of God"), Muslims who would only adopt peaceful means in the struggle for India's independence.

All in all, this Gaffar Khan is a fascinating character to examine. Doing so has certainly challenged some of my own assumptions about Islam.

It comes down to this, and if I'm wrong well, I will sincerely ask God to correct me on it...

It's not which "religion" we choose that makes us good or righteous. It is about how much we desire God. And if our desire for Him is sincere, He will not only reveal Himself to each of us who seeks Him but He will also reveal Himself through us to others. Not for sake of mere "religion", no matter what that might be: not Islam, not Judaism, and not even Christianity...

Does this mean that your friend Chris Knight has suddenly "gone liberal" or is now claiming that "there are many paths to God"? Nope, not at all. As a follower of Christ I do gladly acknowledge and proclaim that He and He alone is the One who reconciles us with God. That Christ is Truth.

But I have also come to understand, as best I can at this point, that there are many who seek that Truth as well. And if their understanding or wisdom is less than my own, well... how dare I judge them as being lesser than I? Hey, at one time or another I was much like them. As a follower of Christ and one who has found joy in His Truth, I do have faith that He will draw all who seek Him - whether they even know it is He that they seek - unto Him, in His always perfect time.

Guess what I'm trying to say is: let God judge who belongs to Him and who does not.

But I do not believe for a moment that those who do sincerely desire God would also try to hurt and kill others in the name of that same God.

Anonymous said...

Ah, but Chris, what about the teaching of Christ- I am The Way, The Truth, and The Life.

Christ is the ONLY way to salvation. That is why we send missionaries around the globe to preach the Gospel message.

All other religions are lost and condemned. Salvation exists solely with faith in Christ and acceptance of Him and His sacrifice.

Chris Knight said...

Here's the problem: when you state that "All other religions are lost and condemned".

You are making Christ out to be mere religion. That is what He is not!

Did I state that Christ is not the only way to salvation? I did not. I said that Christ is truth. But how others arrive at that truth need not necessarily be how you or I or how anyone else arrives at that truth.

We give ourselves far too much credit in the preaching of Christ. He is most made manifest to others when we, as individual followers of Him, yield to Him without restraint. We must decrease so that He might increase. When others see Christ within us, they will desire Him as well knowing that He is the truth that they also have sought.

That is best how we are witnesses for Him.

And simply "preaching" the gospel - as if the reiteration of mere words is enough to compel one to profess Christ - is ridiculous. The words are nothing if there is not the requisite love for Christ and love for others behind them.

Let's not make Christ about religion. Christ is supposed to be about personal relationship with God.

JohnJ said...

For starters, Chris, no one is talking about banning Islam or shutting down all mosques in New York. Freedom of religion is simply not an issue here. This has to do with this particular imam and the funding for this particular mosque. We still have soldiers deployed in Afghanistan who are still fighting against the people who are going to be funding this mosque.

This has nothing to do with freedom of religion. The fact is that this mosque was chosen expressly for its proximity to the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

We believe in freedom of speech, but we have laws against hate speech, conspiracy, and incitement. The government can also establish time, place, and manner restrictions on speech. these things do not violate our freedom of speech. Nor do similar restrictions violate our freedom of religion.

I highly recommend reading this Wall Street Journal article: http://is.gd/eFITK and this article by 1st Amendment scholar and senior Cato fellow Nat Hentoff: http://is.gd/eFIXp

Chris Knight said...

JohnJ, a friend made a great observation a few days ago: that if the mosque is built, in spite of the uproar about it, and it does wind up being utilized for some kind of terrorist activity... then the remainder of the Islamic world will have no choice but to finally bring the hammer down hard on their own faith's violent extremists.

I can see that.

JohnJ said...

That doesn't make sense to me. Hamas apologists excuse hundreds of acts of terror every year. Why would, all of a sudden, this one be the one that leaves them with no choice but to condemn violent extremists? If they're not already condemning violent extremism, one more act of terror isn't going to all of a sudden convert them.

Anonymous said...

I agree with JohnJ. Muslims have had many, many, many opportunities to "bring the hammer down" on the extremists. But I haven't heard of many that have publicly spoken out against extremism, let alone done anything to try and curb or stop it.

In fact, I have really only heard about people trying to impose their way of life on others - sometimes in quiet, subtle ways. Sometimes in activist law-changing ways.

Not sure why that is, but it doesn't speak well for the political ideology that is Islam, and it doesn't bode well for those of us who don't follow Islam.

Now, all that being said, I have known many wonderful, hospitable, kind, Muslim people. Like most things, the problems seem to come from the top down.

Anonymous #2