Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Now, about that 'mosque' ...

I need not remind you that the "mosque" going up at Ground Zero in Manhattan, site of the World Trade Center that was destroyed by Islamic extremists on Sept. 11, 2001 has been a hot topic in today's news, with all kinds of concerns about "terrorism," "appropriateness" and "sensitivity."

As they say, the first casualty with such controversies often is the truth, and that's certainly the case here. Some facts:

1) There is actually no mosque being erected at Ground Zero -- it's a Muslim-oriented community center called the Cordoba House, which is named for the city in Spain where Muslims, Jews and Christians lived together in peace several centuries ago and, if my facts are correct, on whose board non-Muslims also will sit.

2) The location is an old Burlington Coat Factory store which is two blocks away. There actually is a mosque in the vicinity, four blocks away, and I understand that there used to be three.

3) The group building it comes from the peaceful Sufi sect of Islam, not the violent, radical Wahhabis that blew up the WTC; in the process the Sufis actually consulted with Jewish and community groups beforehand.

Oh, and if you haven't heard: This process has been going on for about a year; it became an issue only when it came before a zoning hearing board in New York City last month -- and suddenly the Fox News Channel, among others, smelled blood. Does anyone suspect that some folks are trying to turn it into an election issue?

Well, what about Muslims putting of what would amount to being a "signal" to the rest of the Muslim world? Well, that might have some validity if it were being built on the very same site, but it isn't (an Episcopal church is located even closer). Or that it would become a haven for terrorism (not likely). Or that it would insult the families of the victims of 9/11 (some of whom actually support it -- after all, other Muslims died too).

And it's not only Muslims who have done the kind of thing they're being accused of. Let's remember that Jerusalem was itself a conquest by King David and didn't originally belong to ancient Israel. In Northern Ireland, part of the "Troubles" were connected to several Protestant groups, the Orange Order the best known, sponsoring an annual march in Catholic neighborhoods on the anniversary of their victory.

Some Christians have even said that it shouldn't go in because Islam is a "false religion." Well, I agree that Islam is a false religion -- but, the last time I checked, we do have freedom of religion here and not everyone will subscribe to Christianity. Besides, cultural supremacy should never be the goal of any follower of Jesus, the danger being that we Christians end up acting just like we say the Muslims do, whether true or not (and in fact become more of a danger to our faith than they ever could).

So, let's not get all heated up about such things for the sake of making a cheap political point. The zoning board overwhelmingly approved it, and I think it's time to turn the rhetoric down. If we don't, we'll actually give ammunition to the radicals who do want to kill us. But even if they try, remember that God will preserve His people.

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