Wednesday, I asked and you answered, who has better PR, Jesus or Allah.
An unusually timely story popped up on my radar since Wednesday. While Christians like Terry Jones threaten a Koran burning event, and other Christians (and just plain old Americans) protest mosque constructions all over the country (not just in New York), a few churches are actually opening their doors and allowing Muslims to conduct worship services inside their sanctuaries.
Take Pastor Steve Stone of Heartsong Church in Tennessee. His church invited Muslims to use their church as a makeshift mosque during Ramadan while their mosque was under construction. They even topped off the month with a joint Thanksgiving event. To Stone and other similar pastors, it’s about “what would Jesus do?” You can read a bit about it here.
But as lovely as the idea is of reaching out to our Muslim neighbors, I have to ask, is this really what Jesus would do?
The Christians Made Me Do It
Let’s get one thing out of the way. I can understand the furor around the Islamic Center near Ground Zero. We had a hearty debate on the topic here. But that is the only mosque that should have any kind of controversy. All over the country though, Muslims find it difficult to build mosques without a lot of pointless legal flap (which is later overturned by a judge). I can almost guarantee that most of the legal trouble these Muslims groups are facing is just being trumped up by angry locals, the kind of people who say “I learned everything I need to know about Islam on 9/11,” protesting as if a mosque is a prison or toxic waste dump.
I bet you that if a church is in a position to open it’s doors to mosque-less Muslims, it’s because other Christians and neighbors are standing in the way of the mosque being built. Nothing like having to clean up your neighbor’s stupid mess.
What Is the Church?
You know, I could talk about how the church is sacred and it’s wrong to allow Allah to be worshipped in it. That’s what I want to say. But I can’t, not after countless Christians have stressed over and over not going to church, but being the church.
If we really believe that we are the church, and we really believe it is just a building, I guess this is the final test of our belief in that. So thanks a lot, everyone, for destroying that argument. Hey, I don’t like putting my money where my mouth is any more than you do, but we’ve talked ourselves into a corner on this one.
Besides that, churches all over the place already stuff their buildings with secular and barely-Christian groups and activities anyway…Grandma’s quilting circle, I’m looking at you. So I guess letting a few Muslims use the church for free isn’t all that big of a stretch.
I Am Protesting You in Christian Love
I guess you could say that the Christians are encouraging others to stumble by facilitating false worship. But I doubt that the Muslims would stop being Muslims just because another Christian group tried to prevent their worship. (On the flipside, I doubt any Muslims are going to become Christians just because the church showed them some hospitality.) How far does our responsibility go to prevent others from stumbling, anyway? Are the people who protest mosques doing the right thing in Christian love to prevent false worship? Should a Christian carpenter not help build the mosque? What about Hindus or Sikhs? They often turn a room of their homes into a shrine. Should Christians try to keep them out of the neighborhood?
Of course, it seems silly when you take the logic to its conclusion…well, to some of us, it does. Besides, I don’t see any Christians protesting the local convenience stores that peddle dirty magazines and liquor to poor people…or bookstores that peddle dirty magazines and coffee to rich people…or any of the other little things that we tolerate, which cause people to sin and rot our communities, unlike a mosque.
This is probably the first time this has ever happened on this blog. I started out writing wanting to say the church was wrong and stupid to let Muslims worship in their space. And now that I’m finished writing, I can’t say it. I just can’t find one good reason that a church shouldn’t let a group of Muslims worship in their building. I really wanted to, but I can’t.
But maybe I’ve missed something. What do you think? Is it the church’s duty to open it’s doors to a different faith in the name of Christian love, or is it just a disgrace. Please tell me I’ve missed something! Or tell me I’m right, as usual. Either way. Happy Friday, everyone.