The proposed mosque (actually an Islamic Cultural Center) to be placed at Ground Zero (a half truth, its two blocks away) has all sorts of people fired up with anger and resentment. Obviously they associate the mosque with the Islamic extremists who were responsible for the 9/11/2001 attacks that turned the Twin Towers into Ground Zero. And as I teach my clients in drug & alcohol recovery – we cannot change our triggers (associations), we can only change our response and the power they have over us.
Not surprisingly (and unfortunately), many of the people leading the charge are Christians. And they aren’t voicing their opposition by simply saying in a calm and rational voice “we don’t prefer this idea.” No, in fact the response has been the complete inverse.
First off, it’s not that I don’t understand why some people are upset about this situation. I get it. However I see only damage being done in the backlash that has ensued. Originally I was going to write about my stance, however I decided instead to simply write about some things Christians should keep in mind while tackling this subject, regardless of your personal stance.
- A point that needs to be made – Jesus didn’t seem to mind people of other religions. In fact on numerous occasions he used them to show religious Jews what faith is like (Roman centurion, Good Samaritan). I imagine that for Jesus, being a person of love, it would be fairly contradictory to treat anyone terribly, even if they believed contrary to him. For what is love if you only love those who are good to you?
- We aren’t giving Muslims any reason to think highly of us. Instead, by getting all fired up about this we are showing our capacity to hate and exclude, and there is nothing ‘good news’ about that. That’s the same old story since the beginning of time.
- Similarly, I wrote recently about my amazement that there are homosexuals joining the church, because they had that many extra hurdles to jump over to get to faith. By speaking out so strongly against this we are simply building more walls that keep people from us. Surely God breaks through walls, but its a wretched reason to build them in the first place. And our lack of love simply gives them (well anyone) good reason to discount whatever good thing we have to say.
- Christians are very concerned with evangelism, and so when they approach this subject perhaps they could keep this mind – will your response aid you or work against you in your goal of evangelizing? Logically speaking, excluding people has never really been a good tactic to aid in evangelism. It doesn’t exactly leave them wanting to run into our arms (which incidentally aren’t even open to accept them).
- I understand some of this is counter-intuitive, the whole not fighting another religion that is competing for converts. However by freaking out over this we show we feel threatened – as if what we have isn’t all that great and can be taken over. But if we don’t fight and instead love we show we have a deeper thing. Imagine how stunning it could be if they saw religious people welcoming another faith and standing up for them?
- My final word of advice is don’t forget you are carrying the name and image of Jesus wherever you go. This is not meant to force you into guilt so that you feel terrible anytime you cuss when you stub your toe. But remember that you are giving people an image of Jesus in their head, and that image is that Jesus doesn’t like them one bit and doesn’t want them around.
Regardless of your stance on this debate, what message are Christians sending by opposing it so dramatically? Has the damage already been done?