Let’s Have a Mosque-Raising!

August 27, 2010

Wait, is that a mosque-“raising,” or “razing?”

Since it’s been several days since that whole business with the proposed mosque at Ground Zero hit, the Christian blogosphere has lit up with all kinds of opinoins.  As usual, I’ve waited a few days to think about the situation before I spoke up. 

As with most controversies, I have my gut instincts about it.  But the realities are much more complicated than we’d like them to be.  People are fired up and ready to come to fisticuffs over this thing.

Here’s what I’ve come up with in favor of and against the so called “Islamic Center.”

Pro: Two Blocks from Ground Zero Isn’t Ground Zero

I understand that building a mosque or “Islamic Center” two blocks from Ground Zero is offensive to a lot of people.  Ground Zero is sacred.  That said, I have to ask just how far does the “sacredness” of Ground Zero extend?  There’s already a building project at Ground Zero.  Two blocks away from that site probably isn’t even in view of Ground Zero.  If two blocks away is inappropriate, what distance is acceptable?  Of course, some people would answer, “Back where they came from.”

Con: The Islamic Center Will Be Sacred Ground

Something that not too many people are discussing is the idea that Muslims build mosques on sites that they feel they have “conquered.”  You could say the same is true for Christians too.  More Christian Soldiers = more churches.  However with jihad being the point of the WTC attacks, it makes you wonder just what is the real, non-politically correct significance of the mosque.

Has anyone else noticed the interchangeable use of the term “Islamic Center” instead of “mosque?”  I don’t know what an “Islamic Center” is, but I think it’s the same as a Christian “Worship Center.”  It’s just a hip new word to disguise the fact that it is indeed a “church” or “mosque.”

At this point in the conversation, someone will chime in by saying, “We need to stop perpetuating the stereotype that all Muslims want to change and / or conquer America.” 

No, silly billy!  We don’t need to stop perpetuating that stereotype.  Of course most Muslims are lovely, gracious people, but they do want to change America. They aren’t so different from Evangelical Christians and their culture war.  The Muslims are even starting to become a bit more like Evangelicals these days.  In my own city there’s a billboard advertising for Islam.  Every faith, political party, ideology, and philosophy, no matter how peaceful and lovey-dovey wants to mold the world in its image.  To say that Muslims don’t want to change the world is to say they don’t have beliefs worth changing the world for.

Pro: We Should Be More Tolerant

Yeah, there’s that whole thing Jesus talked about about loving our enemies.  And the fact is that as Christians, our allegience is to the Kingdom of God, not the Kingdom of America.  These were the things that Rachel Held Evans reminded her readers of this week.  I respect her opinion, and wholeheartedly admire her allegience to the teachings of Jesus, regardless of the cost.  As Christians, we’re going to have to learn to co-exist with the Muslims that are here (along with the Mexicans, Asians, Hindus, Indians, Atheists, and everyone else.)  And as Americans, we have to come to terms with the fact that we really don’t have any good legal reason to not let the mosque be built.  All that stuff about freedom of religion kind of loses its punch if we just don’t let Muslims build a mosque.

Con: There is a Huge Double Standard Here

Actually, there are three double standards here. 

I’m all for loving thy neighbor as much as you are.  But let’s be honest.  Americans are told way more often than anyone else that we need to try to “understand” our enemies.  Maybe the people behind the mosque can try to understand the 70% of Americans who think it’s in bad taste.

The second double standard is the fact that a Greek Orthodox church was denied a permit to rebuild a church that already existed near Ground Zero.  I don’t know, but something seems fishy, like this isn’t all about religious freedom.  Last I checked, no one was particularly angry with the Greek Orthodox guys.

Lastly, we’ve got a real double standard about which enemies we are trying to “understand” and be loving towards.  I don’t see anyone trying to understand Fred Phelps’ feelings or give him a hug, and he hasn’t even blown up a building.  I don’t think people have ever comprehended the full implications of what it means to love your enemies.  The cost is much higher than a mosque.  Which isn’t to say that we shouldn’t be trying.  But even if we think we’ve done our good deed for Jesus by letting that mosque get built, we still don’t have a clue about what it means to love our enemies.

Which brings me to think of this…

Con: This Isn’t Helping Ordinary Muslims

When a New York cabbie gets stabbed repeatedly because he’s a Muslim, you know tensions are hot.  Now, I’m not trying to throw cold water on loving your enemies.  But since when did “love” equal “always give people what they want”?  God doesn’t do that with me.  You don’t do it with your kids.  If Christians always gave people what they wanted because we “love” them, we’d probably shut up about Jesus, quit trying to making disciples, and mind our own dang business.  Loving people is sometimes giving them what they don’t want, or taking away something they want that’s not good for them.

The fact is, people don’t know what’s good for them half the time.  The people who are pushing for the mosque to be built aren’t going to be the ones to pay the price when people fail to love their enemies when they get into a cab. 

There are already dozens of mosques in NYC.  That’s why I don’t think this mosque is just about religious freedom.  If it were, think about all the goodwill that would be engendered toward Muslims if the builders realized that most Americans would appreciate it being moved a few blocks away.  Then, we could all hug it out.

Perhaps we’re loving the peacenik Muslim Americans more by not letting the mosque be built.  Or maybe we’re giving in to our over-sensitive and selfish sides.  Or maybe we just have nothing to say about it.  What do you think?  Is the future of America at stake?  Or are we obligated to love our enemies by giving them what they want?

59 responses to Let’s Have a Mosque-Raising!

  1. The problem is that we don’t buy oil from the Greeks. If that were the case, they would be given the greatest Cathedral in all the world. I am pro-Mosque, but I am also pro-Greek Orthodox. If they couldn’t build, then why should anyone else be allowed?

  2. Excellent points Matt. You’re right, Americans are so scared to offend someone so we will just give them what they want.

    I’m learning that no matter what you do in life someone will get offended. I was listening to some Muslims complain and complain how we helped Katrina victims and the Haitians, yet get mad that our country doesn’t help Pakistan.

    nicodemusatnite.blogspot.com

  3. Ah yes, the great debate. Next week, more dirt on Michael Jackson.

    -1 The problem between Islam and Christianity started with Jacob and Esau way back in Genesis around chapter 25; one the father of the Jews and the other the father of the Middle Eastern culture. This is the conflict that supposedly ends in Armageddon.

    -2 Tolerance is not biblical. Love is. Love does not tolerate others; it serves them, holds them accountable, and where applicable, corrects them. It does not get to say, “I love you, but I don’t like you.”

    -3 America has a Constitution that protects the rights of its citizens to hold a belief, and worship with freedom – and blab about it all they want. That is not just for us Christiains.

    -4 Christians spend a lot of time on a culture war that they try to make political. Jesus lived during a time when there a foreign occupation of Israel. There were many nationalities, folks of other faiths, atheists, polytheists and witchcraft everywhere you turned. Jesus preached the same message of sin and repentance to all, derided the religious folks, and loved the sinners and the unlovable. For Him, it was a spiritual battle, not a culture war.

    He came to start relationships, not a religion.

    -5 I think the mosque is in poor taste, but so are the porn shops that surround the area.

    -6 I am mad at the Greek Orthodox folks. I photographed a baptism at one of their churches and the little boy, as he came out of the water, peed on my new Hasselblad.

    • Maybe it’s my ignorance in religious history, but I had always thought it was Isaac and Ishmael who were the splitting point between the Jewish and the Middle Eastern cultures. I could definitely be wrong, though.

      • Your right. Sorry, my bad. Was in a hurry.

      • Bismuth is correct – Isaac and Ishmael, not Jacob and Esau. Esau is the father of the Moabites, not the Arabs. Common mistake.

        But David is correct about the rest.

        Interesting note: in Arabic, Palestinian is pronounced “Philistine.” Not a coincidence. Think of all the Middle Eastern angst that could have been avoided if the Israelites had actually obeyed and wiped the Philistines out way back when?

        • What’s funny is that the Jews believe themselves to be the children of Isaac, the child of promise and the Muslims to be the children of Ishmael. The Muslim’s have the same belief, but opposite, with themselves being the children of Isaac, and the Jews being the children of the curse of Ishmael.

          • DNA is the answer. 😉

          • Actually, I’m pretty sure that the Qur’an says Muslims are the children of Ishmael, but that Ishmael was the son of promise because he was the firstborn. But, you might want to double check me on that. It’s been almost two years since my Islamics course back in college.

        • Sorry – I was on the phone while I typed this. I feel sort of dumb for the misinformation.

  4. Maybe we aren’t supposed to give them what they want, but give them MORE than what they want.

    Matt 5:40-41 “And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.”

  5. What I don’t get is how people are somehow making the connection that if this center is built, then the terrorists have won. I don’t understand how building this center symbolizes conquest. Conquest of what? and by whom? There’s already numerous mosques in New York, including one a few blocks away from ground zero. How is one more going to signify conquering anything? Because it’s slightly closer to ground zero than another mosque?

    But the biggest mistake I think people are making in this debate is making an unspoken, maybe even unconscious assertion that all Muslims are terrorists. Imagine if a gay-friendly denomination wanted to set up a worship center near Matthew Shepard‘s gravesite and ran into resistance because they were perceived to be of the same mind as Fred Phelps. Is letting that Christian center be built a symbol of Phelps desecrating the memory of Matthew Shepard? Of course not! And people know this because they see all around them examples of Christians who are normal people, who don’t vociferously preach hate against gays. The only difference between these two cases is that most Americans know few or no Muslims personally, so their opinions of Islam are based primarily on what they hear in the news, which is terrorism.

    Finally, I’m not sure I understand your last con at all. How is this center not helping ordinary Muslims? According to the Park51 website, in addition to having a mosque open to all, the center would have a 500-seat auditorium, theater, performing arts center, fitness center, swimming pool, basketball court, childcare area, bookstore, culinary school, art studio, food court, and a September 11 attacks memorial. It sounds to me like “ordinary” Muslims will be pretty well-served by this center.

    Or did you mean that Muslims are not well-served by the bitter controversy that has been sweeping the nation? But who’s really responsible for that controversy? Who’s been doing the stirring-up? For the most part it’s been anti-mosque protesters. The plans for the center were made public months ago, yet there’s only be a firestorm about it for the past couple of weeks. That tells me that this is not what the leaders of this project had in mind.

    I understand the point about love meaning not always giving people what they want, but are you really claiming to know what’s best for NYC Muslims? Unless I’m misunderstanding your meaning, that has got to be the most arrogant and un-Christlike thing I’ve ever read on this blog, and frankly uncharacteristic of the Matt I’ve come to enjoy reading.

    • I don’t think Matt was trying to say what is best in the situation specifically. More trying to say, loving our enemies doesn’t necessarily mean we have to give in to be considered loving.

    • You’re absolutely right that the controversy is not what the planners had in mind. It’s not that the building itself won’t serve Muslims. It’s that the Muslims in this country will pay for it with increased paranoia and violence on the part of non-Muslims. Sure, it’s non-Muslims that are stirring up the violence about it. But it’s still a cost to be paid. I’m not trying to be un-Christlike at all about this. If I had an audience with the planners, I might ask them if they felt this mosque will help or hinder Muslim American relations. I want Muslims to be accepted and loved in this country. I want an end to the paranoia. I want harmony in America, and I think that’s more important than a single building. Building this mosque may not be the best way to achieve that goal. I’m just throwing that out there.

      • Thanks for that clarification, Matt. I can definitely understand that position. I think I got hung up on the parent-child analogy while reading through the rest of the point.

        I think that the mosque itself would be beneficial to Muslims and their relations in America, especially with the inclusion of the proposed 9/11 memorial. BUT, now that this whole thing has gotten blown up in the media, now that the people who are likely to get angry about this sort of thing are angry enough to attack cab drivers, the better question might be: What are the costs of continuing to build the center as proposed vs. giving in and moving the location (and the message each one sends about the American Muslim community)?

      • Matt, I’m not trying to jump your case here. Your ideals of love, acceptance, and harmony are noble. The issue to confront is that the “other side” of the relationship does not seek these things. Islam seeks to kill and conquer, not love and respect others’ differences. Tolerance? How many synogogues and churches are allowed to be built in Saudi Arabia? None.

        Islam seeks to subjugate non-Muslims, not to live in harmony with them. So no matter how long or how hard you (and we) strive for acceptance and harmony, or hope for them privately, those things will not occur when Islam does not share those values. The word Islam means submission. That means they do not want nor will they ever accept peaceful coexistence with nonbelievers (infidels). Their values are not our values. They relish death more than we cherish life.

        Paranoia is an individual mental disorder characterized by systematized delusions of excessive hostility of others. When you experience actual hostility from Muslims in the name of Allah (which we have many times), when you point out that Islam preaches (and its followers actually carry out actual hostility towards nonbelievers) is not paranoia. Looking at the hole in the ground in lower Manhattan and remembering that radical Islamic fundamentalists caused this and celebrated our deaths is not paranoia.

        Getting educated on what Islam really teaches and what followers actually believe and practice would be more useful than idealistically pining for harmony. Are you not aware of “honor” killings (males murdering young women in their own family for opposing arranged marriage or becoming too “westernized”), female genital mutilation, stoning for adultery, cutting off hands/feet for theft? This stuff is real, not made up. This actually happens. And it has already come to Europe and America. Pointing these facts out is not being paranoid. Failure to acknowledge these facts is tantamount to living in deception. Jesus said many will see but not see.

        Just Google “Malmo Sweden Islam” and see the many many stories of what has happened in a city that was a shining star of western progressivism just a generation ago. The city, the people, the Swedish culture have all been overrun. This is not an isolated incident. This is the pattern of Islamic conquest of the West. Population growth that exceeds host culture, demanding hosts tolerate the immigrants’ practices, then eventually forcing out democracy and equal protection under the law, and replacing the host legal system with sharia law.

        Make no mistake, the imams that occupy the mosques of NYC are calling for sharia law in America. Pointing this out is not paranoia.

    • And exactly what will the content of the bookstore be? A bunch of nice cozy books by Rick Warren and Max Lucado? Wake up! They will be teaching Islamic Supremacism in that place. They will be teaching religious INtolerance. Become familiar with what is taught in mosques and madrassas (Jews are pigs, kill the infidels).

      And exactly what do you think will be the composition of the 9/11 Memorial built at Cordoba House/Park 51? Do you actually think that they will honor the firemen who ran up the towers to rescue innocent victims, many who gave their lives to save others? No, they will be celebrating the “honor” and “bravery” of the 19 hijackers who plotted for months to slit the throats of the airline crews, destroy icons of Western culture and kill as many people as possible while calling “Allu Ahkbar”! Which by the way is how the daily call to prayer at the mosques will open.

      Ordinary Muslims well served? The naivete is scary. Jesus said there would be much deception in End Times. The PR campaign for this mosque contains much deception.

      • I… wow.

        • I know, right? This whole discussion is ridiculous. Mosques don’t hurt your relationship with Jesus, insecurity does. Gays don’t destroy your marriage, communication breakdowns do. It’s not people who are different than you who have the power to destroy you, it’s you yourself.

          Guh. The more politics this blog brings up, the less I like it around here. Did someone above really imply that genocide would have solved our problems? Is that really the tenor of the rhetoric here?

          Think about the power dynamics – find it funny that who is and who isn’t contacted for “permission?” Muslims don’t need Christians’ permission to build a Mosque. Muslims, just like anyone else, have more than ample right to tap into the narrative current surround ing 9/11 – MUSLIMS lost family members too, MUSLIMS lost firefighters too, MUSLIMS questioned God just like you did, and MUSLIMS live in this post-9/11 world just like you. They have every right to tell their stories and live their lives, and they don’t need anyone’s permission to do it.

  6. Thank you, Matt. This was completely awesome.

  7. I have a slightly different perspective on Muslims than most people in America because I’ve lived and worked in several Muslim countries for an extended period of time.

    Will their beliefs on their own bring them to salvation? No. Please hear me when I say that.

    But at the same time, a) they are FAR from all terrorists any more than all Christians blow up abortion clinics or picket loudly at military funerals, and b) having lived among them, I have been given a compassion for them that I think most (Christians especially) are lacking.

    I think your point about not using love as an excuse to give our enemies everything they want is rather specious. While public outcry may or may not affect the decision-makers, _I_ am not one of them. It’s not my choice whether or not the people (and policy-makers) of NYC “give” Muslims an Islamic Center near GZ. So the mosque being built has nothing to do with whether or not I “love” the Muslims and am therefore “giving them everything they want.”

    I also think that the point about religious freedom is not one to be made little of. When we start supporting limiting the religious practice of any religious group, we take a step closer to limiting our own religious practice (which is already sadly too limited, imo). It’s like that quote about the Nazis in Germany (and I don’t say this lightly) – “They came first for the Communists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew. Then they came for me and by that time no one was left to speak up.” Religious freedom (as long as it is not infringing on the actual real rights of others – as in no child sacrifice, but praying in public should be ok) is an “all or nothing” deal. Whether we agree with their beliefs or not.

    Having said all of that, I firmly believe that there should be a public outcry about the Greek Orthodox church (even though I don’t agree with them either).

    Should preference be given to the muslims in the guise of “tolerance?” Absolutely not. But should they be free to buy/lease land, acquire all the proper permits, and build a building of their choice which adheres to any legal zoning requirements, just like anyone else? Absolutely.

    To say otherwise would eventually restrict my own freedom.

    • Very good point, Leia. Christian groups are already coming under fire for practicing their faiths. In just a couple of months, Christians will go on another crusade to “save” Christmas by fighting for their public Nativities and boycotting stores where the employees say “happy holidays.” Any limitation we place on the rights of others will eventually limit our own rights.

      Your point is also taken about the fact that you and I aren’t “giving” anything to Muslims. Likely, the people who will make the decision will not be doing it out of Christian love. I suppose I mean by “give” just consent and support of the mosque, since that’s really all we can give.

    • “But should they be free to buy/lease land, acquire all the proper permits, and build a building of their choice which adheres to any legal zoning requirements, just like anyone else?”

      IMO, this is the ONLY thing that matters.

  8. I have been schooled very well by this post. Thanks, Matt.

  9. I’m glad that you’re looking at both sides. The Christian in me is having a conniption, but my American side realizes that this nation was founded on freedom of religion, tolerance, etc. I’d rather not see a mosque over there. . . but part of me gets why it sends a good message, too.

    Whatever will we do?

  10. This garnered a rare triple-kudos in my Google Reader — a star, a like, and a share. And now make that a quadruple-kudos since I’m coming over and leaving a comment. Excellently done and tremendously thought-provoking. As usual.

  11. I was on the fence about this issue. I can see both sides, & if we truly have religious freedom in this country, then why would we stop a religious building from being built?

    However, no one is stopping mosques from being built in general.

    I didn’t know about preventing the Greek Orthodox church from being rebuilt, which puts an entirely different spin on this.

    I did know about “building where they have conquered” but still wasn’t sure about this.

    I was looking at this as a property rights issue – that we should have the right to do what we want with our property, but there are zoning laws as well.

    I do believe that if this mosque is built, it is only a matter of time before someone does something stupid like bombs it & then we will have a whole new round of anger & debate on our hands. It seems wisest not to build it.

    So, i’m off the fence & against building the thing, but not fanatically, angrily against it.

  12. Thank you for the post, Matt.

    I object to the supposed “moral equivalency” of all religions that was mentioned. Hindus, Jews, and Christians don’t issue fatwas or recruit jihadists in their houses of worship. Christians who founded America believed that we are all Created Equal. Evangelizing Christianity is not equivalent to evangelizing Islam. Because in Allah/Mohammed’s eyes, we are not all equal. In Islam, Muslims are superior, and infidels (non-belivers) are inferior. Totally different view and totally different way of dealing with nonbelievers. Jesus told us to love and pray for our enemies. Mohammad said to kill his enemies while allowing some infidels to be dhimmis (live but work basically as slaves).

    The Muslims win when the debate is made on a “freedom of religion” basis. Islam is not just a religion! It is a complete system of law, governance, community conduct, and religious practice. It calls for a theocracy with women and infidels (that’s Jews & Christians and those that won’t convert to Islam) as 2nd class citizens or dead. Hasn’t anyone evaluated the merits of prosecuting an Imam for treason or insurrection? Because planning the future Califate, including all the steps therein, e.g., the overthrow of all western governments, cultures, and beliefs, could be coming close to that.

    The Muslims win when citizens say “Of course they can build mosques, just NOT THERE.” By getting people to say this in response, Islam has now openly convinced people (in their own minds and in public discourse) to support/endorse/stop objecting to the building of mosques everywhere else in America. See how sneaky the tactic of planning a mosque in the most sensitive spot in America? Whether the mosque is built or not, the Muslims still win over the minds of many ordinary Americans to stop objecting to anything Islamic. This includes allowing/not objecting to: wearing headcoverings for photo ID’s, extra school holidays for Islamic observances, paying to build footbaths in public restrooms, allowing taxi drivers to refuse service if you have pork, etc. in the name of “tolerance”.

    Letting a large, rapidly growing subculture who is hostile to the Western/American way of life dictate their demands and having us (the host culture) cave in over and over to their perpetual outrage is not improving the “understanding” or “love” of anything.

  13. What we really ought to be doing in that part of lower Manhattan is building a significant Christian Outreach Center very close to Ground Zero. Preach the gospel of Jesus Christ to all. Let God do His mighty work in the hearts and minds of all people in New York. Anybody know of an initiative to do this?

  14. I think you and Kathy are both awesome! Okay, the love fest is over and now I’ll rant..I mean, comment.

    You know where one of the most hateful places on earth is? The comments section of just about anything AOL”news” posts on it’s website. People there can get to hateful and grotesque in a heartbeat. I quit going there since civil debate isn’t possible. You know where the second most hateful place is becoming? Any blog where Christians disagree with each other. It’s so icky.

    I disagree with my Christian brothers and sisters, but I’m not a smart ass about it (sorry–that would offend the jerk Christian on Carlos Whittakers site today). I just either shaddup about it, or I lovingly agree to disagree about it. Some of the comments on Rachel’s blog, really made me want to kidney punch some people. It’s like they troll blogs looking for a comment that even though they know “it probably wasn’t her intent” to say that (yup, talking to you @ Rob Miller), they have to comment as if it were. As my grandmother used to say, “why go looking for trouble where there isn’t any?”

    I expect that from the creepies on AOL, but in the Jesus community–I hope for more.

  15. I think what a lot of people don’t understand about those who oppose the building of the mosque is that most are not against the right of the muslims to build a mosque and practice their religion, it’s the insensitivity of building it in such close proximity to Ground Zero. (I mean, it IS Ground Zero because of some radical muslims.) Iman Rauf talks about the mosquestrocity being a gateway to peace and good relations between the muslims and Americans. Really? In light of the fact that 70% of Americans are opposed to it I’d say that’s not going to be a bridge to better relations.

    The developers of the mosque have stated in the past that the funds will be raised by American muslims and the selling of bonds, but are now saying they will reach out to Muslim nations around the world. There are some pretty radical muslim nations that hate America (Ground Zero being a case in point) and if countries like Iran are going to make large donations I don’t think it’s going to be with the understanding that they have the biggest flag flying on the bridge to peace with America.

    • annie, i agree completely that it is insensitive for the muslims to build this learning center in this location. but i think where i disagree with many is that i don’t see any call for christians to fight insensitivity in others through protest or complaint. rather we fight it through actually being salt and light. opposing the build doesn’t bother me; but crying and fighting do. that doesn’t seem to be salt and light to me…

      • James, while I understand what you’re saying, I don’t think the people behind the building of the hamasque are going to suddenly have feelings of sensitivity because we group hug. I’m not big on whining but I believe our voice is heard through protest. And yes, we need to be the salt and light but even Jesus threw a few tables to make a point – which would have been totally awesome to see.

  16. Great post, Matt. I didn’t know the bit about building mosques on conquered sites. That’s interesting. You bring up some good discussion points.

    On a side note, I think you need to make it your personal mission to seek out Fred Phelps and give him a hug. Please make sure you film the results. :)

  17. People are using the term Islamic Center because it is a community center that has Muslim worship space in it–like the YMCA. It’s not a euphemism for mosque.

    And while a “double standard” may seem unfair, that’s exactly what Jesus was saying when he said love our enemies. They don’t love you, but you are still supposed to love them. I hadn’t heard about the Greek Orthodox space, but since people seem to consider Ground Zero a Christian-sacred-ground, I highly doubt the problem is bigotry and fear. The Cordoba House building is already a mosque. The owners are simply renovating a building they already own.

    Finally, it’s interesting you bring up Fred Phelps, because the best article I’ve read on this whole mosque controversy was one by Stephen Prothero called “Sensitivity or Legality?” A court ruled that Fred Phelps does have the right to picket near funerals. It is insensitive, yes, but they do have a legal right to free speech and assembly. Some people may consider it “insensitive” to have a worship space for the religion shared by terrorists near Ground Zero, but bottom line, Muslims have freedom of religion and can worship freely because this is America.

  18. i think the construction of this mosque, in light of the current response, is unwise at best (hurtful, inconsiderate, and rude at worst). but i don’t believe, as christians, our response is to protest and complain about what others do that might be or seem unloving or unkind. and certainly our response should not be to return hurt for hurt and uncaring for uncaring.

    the reaction of christians bothers me a great deal more than does the intentions of muslims to build a community learning center and place of worship.

    if only they’d allow some good mom to enter the situation on the national scene, i’m sure she’d know just what to say:

    http://jamesbrett.wordpress.com/2010/08/18/a-mothers-response-to-the-ground-zero-controversy/

  19. This is such a great post. Thanks for being a voice of reason and truth.

  20. I think your “Fred Phelps” comment is the best. The double standard couldn’t be more obvious. Everyone has an agenda. Anyone who says they don’t have an agenda, has an agenda they’re lying about. My agenda is that through community service and loving my neighbor as myself, I want them to come to know Jesus. The agenda for others may be different. But your point with the Westboro Baptist people is very well made.

  21. I don’t really understand why Christians are fighting back at all – as in I don’t even really see how this our concern.

    • I agree with you.

      It seems (from the email i get from people i love a lot but don’t agree with politically) that many Christians seem to think (i believe i WAS taught this in Sunday School) that America is the “New Israel” of God’s Chosen & so they seem to think it is their duty to “defend” our country against those who disagree. It becomes rather militant. They often are the ones who want to re-write history to turn it into “All the Founding Fathers were Christians & they wrote their Christianity into the Constitution.”

      It can get really ugly. That is why i think we need to remember the love part of “love your enemies.” Or friends, as sometimes the needs be.

  22. Christians need to remember that Jesus was not a submissive wuss for his entire life and ministry. Check Matthew. The first 7 chapters or so he is pretty mellow (Sermon on the Mount has all the turn the other cheek stuff).

    Starting in Chapter 8 Jesus begins to show that he is firm (tells a disciple to not even go back to bury his father). That’s pretty direct and pretty harsh. Most of Jesus life he confronted hypocrisy of the elite (Pharisees) with direct truth. Jesus was one of the most politically INCORRECT people of his era.

    If you think it’s “Christian” to simply let another segment of society walk all over you and therefore you should not speak a truthful word that might be harsh or offend others, then you are perhaps only remembering part of the Gospel (Matt 1-7). Go back and re-read Chapters 8-25 and you’ll see a lot more lion, and a lot less lamb in there.

    Again in the last 3 chapters does Jesus take his role of a sacrificial lamb. He had the power to avoid crucifixion but was obedient to the Father to bear the sins of the world.

    If you want to truly be Christ-like, you cannot simply omit the inconvenient parts of His life, like our duty to confronting hypocrisy with God’s truth. This includes honoring Israel & the Jews, and not surrendering to those that hate the Jews.

    • bill, i do see Jesus as being firm. and he definitely spoke some offensive (and harsh) words. but it is interesting to note that he did so primarily to the pharisees, the religious leaders who were (honestly) the closest to being right. he spent less time “being a lion” with the sadducees, and (i think) i’d argue none with anyone else, especially those not of jewish faith.

      “If you want to truly be Christ-like, you cannot simply omit the inconvenient parts of His life, like our duty to confronting hypocrisy with God’s truth. This includes honoring Israel & the Jews, and not surrendering to those that hate the Jews.”

      we certainly should confront hypocrisy, and i think that’s why Jesus chose to confront the pharisees, those who claimed to be right with God but were actually leading people astray. however, this “not surrendering to those that hate the Jews” bit flies in the face of what Jesus actually did. he surrendered to those who hated the jews. i never see Jesus fighting for his own rights in scripture, or speaking of such — to defend the poor or take care of orphans, sure — but not his own rights.

      and in this mosque situation, i can’t even think of any rights christians would have to that property. so it seems many are fighting to defend rights that are not even present?

  23. It is from my understanding that the Islamic Centre is not a mosque but will be a community centre with a pool and such. There will be a room for prayer. That room will be a mosque in the sense that a prayer room in a hospital is a church.

    • I’m sorry Tara. You are being deceived. Do not believe the propaganda. This is the third time the backers have “reshaped” their narrative in the face of people poking holes in the plans. They just keep making up euphemisms until us dhimmis grow weary and surrender.

      They will teach jihad and hatred of infidels in that place, whether they have rec rooms or prayer rooms or whatever else is built there to obscure their real agenda, which is Islamic Supremacy. Just because Christians want peace doesn’t mean that the imams don’t want war.

      Do you actually think it’s a harmless rec center? If so, I have a bridge to sell you…

      • well if this is true, and I REALLY don’t think it is, then this new building won’t likely change much – because if they want to teach jihad then they probably already are wherever they are meeting.

        • I agree. I heard that there are already over 100 mosques in NYC. So one could argue the essential “need” for 1 more. And “why there” is also a valid debate point. But don’t stop there. Don’t buy the argument that this is a single local zoning issue. This mosque is part of a far bigger issue.

          What I see is the ability to seize this opportunity to shine more light of truth as to what is going on with the Islamization of America and the West. Whether this single mosque is built there or not, open the debate and expose the hypocrisy and deceptions that are going on. Keep asking the questions and demand answers as to “who is really funding this”. What ideology will really be taught there? Then expose the mosques funding/promoters/imams for their half truths, untruths and network of links to other people who are genuinely hostile to America and the West.

          Don’t simply give up because you want to be a Christian “nice guy” or hope for peace and harmony to break out if we keep quiet/don’t resist/follow all the politically correct media guidelines.

          Christ said if you follow Him you will be hated. Christians who seek a “no friction/no controversy” lifestyle should ask themselves whether or not they are really taking up their cross and following Him. If nobody hates you/resents you/rejects you, then maybe you aren’t really doing much for the Kingdom?

          That doesn’t mean you should be a jerk and insult people just to get in their face. But it does mean you should get to know the Truth and have the courage to speak the Truth (in love).

  24. “LeFou I’m afraid I’ve been thinking. A dangerous pastime. I know.” (lyrics from Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast”)

    Great Post. I like looking at all the pros and cons because it makes me comfortable waffling before making a final decision.

    Legally, unless there are zoning laws in place the New York government cannot come out and say that the Mosque cannot be built. However, based on my experience of a city puting up a towering inferno of roadblocks to prevent my old church from building where the city wanted cash producing houses, they can prevent it. In terms of PR, the Muslims who want to build the mosque look quite insensitive to other people’s opinion. That doesn’t seem to bother them much since their virtual enslavement of women is generally critisized by everyone in the world except other Muslims. So appealing to their sensitivities is a losing battle.

    I have thought of another Pro/Con, though it really doesn’t have anything to do with Jesus.

    Pro: Building a mosque with visual line of sight from and to Ground Zero is the military equivalent of aiding and giving comfort to the enemy, which is treason.

    Con: The only way this is true is if there is evidence that can convict the Imam in the court of law that he has ties to either Al-Qaeda or The Taliban, whom we have labled as our enemies. I believe that we are fighting Muslim TERRORISTS, not MUSLIM Terrorists.

    So New York has two options here: Provide enough stonewalling techniques to discourage the Imam and ?parishoners? from completing his extension or ask the FBI/CIA/NSA and any other organization to poke around in the leadership of the mosque to see if there are financial ties to our enemies, convict them in a court of law and raize the building for something that will bring in money to a cash-strapped city.

  25. There are some realities ignored in the original post and in the comments.

    First, one can no more lump all Muslims into a single group than all Christians.

    Two horrible generalizations, just to give a flavor:

    * The 200+ million Muslims in much of Southeast Asia are generally “liberal” from a theological perspective… and get along pretty well with the rest of the world.

    * Those who follow Qutb (read up on him) are at another extreme… and very much are out to get “us.”

    Just as Christians are divided by things like Biblical inerrancy, and the primacy of Christ… so too are Muslims divided. One major line in the sand: abrogation. (When the Koran is inconsistent, can you pick and choose what to believe — the ‘liberal’ view — or does the most recent writing take precedence — the ‘conservative’ view.

    With that in mind, it is important to understand that not all mosques are alike. And there is very much a radical, militant, triumphalist element within Islam. Not just in word but in deed.

    And unfortunately, the “ground zero mosque” is being built by those who want to destroy western culture.

    Matt, you need to read up on “Cordoba House.” The name is significant. The issue is not one of politics nor freedom of speech. It is an issue of theology… and war.

    Allowing this mosque to be built there would be a bit like allowing a Japanese emperor-worship shrine to be built at Pearl Harbor… while WWII was still under way. That would have been highly offensive.

    There’s a pretty well-informed video out there… unfortunately done by a guy who is hot under the collar… but I encourage listening to what he says, and looking deeply… I’d pick something else if I could, but this is the best-informed piece I’ve seen when it comes to some facts…

    lemme see… http://www.jihadwatch.org/2010/06/pat-condell-on-ground-zero-mosque-is-it-possible-to-be-astonished-but-not-surprised.html

  26. There are other aspects to this that are unfamiliar to westerners. We do not understand the mindset of eastern “battles.”

    In the west, we look at physical domination and ignore the spiritual significance of most actions. In the east, a more holistic perspective tends to prevail.

    Soo… Matt, how would you respond if you KNEW that not just Ground Zero, but the Flight 93 site is also becoming a symbol of Islamic victory?

    http://islamexposed.blogspot.com/2010/07/cordoba-house-is-not-first-mosque-of.html

    How would you respond if you KNEW that major elements within Islam firmly believe that there’s nothing wrong with out and out lying to achieve long-term goals of making Islam supreme over all? They have a term for it (Al Taqiyya), and say it a bit subtly (as “dissimulation”) but it’s pretty blatant.

    http://islamexposed.blogspot.com/2010/07/park-51-big-lie.html

    It’s well known where this leads. I’ve seen it in person in the Middle East. Even in the most accommodating of places, such as Cairo, no church can be built anywhere near a mosque. If Christians begin to build a church, as soon as it is known, a crescent goes up nearby and the church is banned (yes, even if they had a permit.) The only way to “win”: secretly do the construction for ostensibly other purposes…and at the last second put up any desired Christian symbols.

    Conservative Islam generally is not concerned about offending other faiths, but ohhh be careful — they are VERY concerned about any offense against their faith. No symmetry at all.

    If you want a good education on the subject, read a book — full of love for Muslims! — by a former professor at Al Hazar University, the center of Islamic thought. “Islam and Terrorism” by Dr Mark Gabriel (an assumed name, because of the price on his head and danger to his family.) There are lots of links about this book and this man and his perspective. Here’s a good one I just found: http://www.bibleprobe.com/MarkGarbriel-Introduction.htm

    Blessings to all,
    Pete

  27. BTW, the article I linked contains a good section on “abrogation” which I mentioned in my first post… or nasikh as Muslims call it. Near the end it also discusses lying.

    Blessings to all,
    p

  28. Readers who believe that the Ground Zero mosque is just a harmless rec center need to see what has been happening in Paris. This is coming to America, wake up!

    http://gatewaypundit.firstthings.com/2010/09/hidden-camera-video-the-islamization-of-paris/