Opponents of Islamic mosque must act in Christian manner
To the Editor:
This letter goes out to all those opposed to Muslims setting up an Islamic Centre at Ground Zero in New York. Over the past few weeks a fervor has taken over this country which has as its heart a strong opposition to anything Muslim. At times the tenor of the debate has been to ban all Muslims from this country. In Tennessee for example there has been reported to be a strong feeling among ultra right wing Christians that there is no place in this country for the practice of Islam. That's a pretty scary sentiment if you stop to think about what is being said; especially when you consider that many of the folks saying it are allegedly Christians themselves.
I have to pose this question: "Where will you worship your God after you successfully gut the First Amendment of the Constitution?" This is what is being proposed when one suggests that there is no place in this country for the practice of Islam. Consider our country's history. Many of the Europeans that came to this country in the late 1400s and early 1500s came because they had no religious freedom. In England during the 1500s if you weren't Anglican, you had no right to practice your religion. My home state, Maryland, was essentially the place that Catholics were exiled to when they were kicked out of England; as a Catholic, this particular aspect of history has significant meaning to me. Pennsylvania was founded by Dutch immigrants searching out a place to practice their brand of Christianity. Much of New England was founded by the Pilgrims in search of religious tolerance. Are you really willing to give up what those folks died to create, in order to rid our country of Islam?
Think about the weapon you give to all those secular folks and other non-Christian faiths who would seek to ban all aspects of Christianity in this country. Where will you find safety in practicing your faith, if you tell another group they can not practice theirs? Think about the Second Amendment right to bear arms that is held sacred here in Michigan. If you destroy the strength and potency of the First Amendment, how will you be able to safely speak out to preserve the Second Amendment? You will not have a safe haven.
I personally do not believe that an Islamic Centre belongs at the site of Ground Zero. I don't like the idea and I think it is insensitive and in extremely poor taste. Proposing such a centre at Ground Zero says a great deal about the character of Islam, none of it good. However, I am not willing to sacrifice my right to practice my faith, in order to prevent someone from practicing theirs; this is too high of a price to pay to prevent this building from being erected. Allowing what amounts to a gutting of the First Amendment to occur, is too great of a sacrifice and it is a slap in the face to all those who died at ground zero. It's a slap in the face to all those servicemen and women who have died to preserve that freedom in the six great wars our country has fought, and the other minor wars that have occurred in our country's 230 year history.
In conclusion, I call on each of you to reflect on the counsel of St. Paul in Romans 14. That section of Romans talks at great length about religious tolerance. It doesn't just apply to tolerance of other Christian faiths; it is good counsel that applies to everyday life. If we are truly all about being Christian, then we must act in the manner of Christians; that is we must practice our faith, we must promote our faith, and we must live our faith; but, in the end we must respect the free will God has given to each of us and respect the right of others to practice their faith in the manner they see fit.