As anyone who reads, watches or listens to the news knows by now, the conflict I mentioned in my previous post between the Christian lady and her Muslim neighbor has been greatly overshadowed by a similar but larger conflict, which has the whole nation up in arms (well, not literally -- yet).
The building of a Muslim community center within a few blocks of Ground Zero has been proposed. This has caused a reaction much greater than that of the dear lady mentioned in that post.
Voices have been raised across the country opposing this “desecration” of our “hallowed ground.” Anger at Islam is expressed by demonstrations. Politicians and talking heads have expressed their indignation. Christians have expressed their hatred for the religion of Islam, and it would seem, for its adherents. Arguments, pro and con, abound. Polls, we’re told, show that nearly 70% of Americans oppose building on this site.
Well, what are we as citizens of two Kingdoms – as Christians and Americans – to do? What should be our attitude?
• First of all, I believe we need to recognize that the first amendment to our Constitution begins thus: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof …” That’s the beginning of our Bill of Rights! [The only other mention of religion in our Constitution is in Article Six, where it is stated that “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.”]
So it looks to me as thought these people have a right to build their building wherever they wish to. And I as an American have no right to deny them.
• But it has been protested that in many Muslim nations Christians are denied the right to build their buildings of worship. In fact, in some Muslim nations, it is against the law to even BE a Christian. This is true. Uni and I pray regularly for the persecuted church in these countries, as well as in others. We also pray for their persecutors.
However, I fail to see how the denial of rights to Christians in Muslim nations justifies in any way the denial of rights to Muslims in America. America is not a “Christian nation.” It never was and never will be. And I for one am glad it isn’t! My concern for persecuted believers in other nations leads me to this conclusion. I don’t want to see the church becoming the persecutor as it has been and still is, in some nations.
• All that I have said above has nothing to do with the “rightness” or “wrongness” of Islam. It has to do with my attitude as both an American and a follower of Jesus Christ.
I believe that Jesus is the Son of God and the only way to God. He made that claim. He said, “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life; no one comes to the Father but through Me” (John 14:6). “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30). Though Islam believes Jesus was a great prophet, it does not accept these claims. It denies that God could have a Son. Therefore I have to conclude that Islam is false.
But Jesus also said, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” As I noted in the previous post, He left no loopholes. So while I believe my Muslim friends hold a false view of Jesus and of God, I am to love them as I love myself. It’s that simple, though it may not be easy.
Is this dangerous? I suppose it can be. My Muslim neighbor may not love me. He may even be out to convert me or something worse! (But then so also may my neighbor who is an atheist or a Hindu or a Christian of some other persuasion.)
Yet, even if all the fears expressed by the ranters and conspiracy theorists should be shown to be true, I have no other option than to love my neighbor.