Like most people, I was taken back by the proposed mosque that has been approved for construction just two blocks from ground zero. It seems to be an “in-your-face” statement to have such a visible sign of Islam so close to the place where radical adherents of that religion carried out their vengeance on the U.S.
But what has me more worried is the reaction of Christians and conservative politicians, who want the government to step in and ban the mosque. This would be a clear violation of the 1st Amendment, a fundamental and unique element of our Republic, purchased at great cost with the blood of our young men and women, throughout America’s history. Freedom of Religion, espoused by the Founders is a radical idea unheard of in history. It has allowed Christianity to flourish in America, for us to send thousands of missionaries to the far-flung nations, to establish churches across the globe, to build training centers, colleges, ministries, and media centers, all proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Here is what has me worried. If public pressure can force governments to move against a particular religion and deny them the opportunity to meet, they can move against any religion. Including Christianity. The reason I’m so against suspending the 1st Amendment is that it would give unnecessary ammunition to opponents of Christianity. From a legal point of view, once you ban a mosque, can’t you easily ban a church?
And I hear, all the time, of municipalities and governments infringing on the rights of churches to assemble and build buildings. The pressure against fundamental Christianity is building every day.
Even though I believe Islam to be a false religion and though I believe that Jesus is the way, truth, and life (John 14:6), I also believe every religions has an American right to assemble and believe what they believe. And I would die to defend that right, because I would like the same freedoms extended to me, as a Bible-believing pastor. The minute we give up this right, even for a religion we detest, is the minute we give up on what has made America such a bastion of hope for the world.
What’s more–if America bans a mosque near Ground Zero, doesn’t that give Arab governments justification in shutting down Christianity in their own countries?
Let’s put it another way. The same politicians and talk radio show hosts and Christians who are rallying against the Ground Zero mosque–imagine if there was a similar case in say, Dearborn, MI, and a group of Baptists wanted to build a church near a center of Muslim worship–wouldn’t we be arguing freedom of religion?
I find it not the least bit ironic that the same conservative leaders, who blast the liberals for not adhering to the Constitution, are so willing to jettison those believes because they detest the building of this mosque.
What upsets me more, is to hear Christians accept the conservative talking points, without thinking through this issue biblically and historically and legally.
Do you know what would be a better move for Christians upset at a Ground Zero Mosque? Tell the world that a mosque doesn’t intimidate you, because you know the one, true, God, Jesus Christ. Proclaim the gospel far and wide. Give your energies to planting churches in cities like New York so that the false religion of Islam is drowned out by the loving, truthful message of the Gospel.
Let the truth be tested in the public square as Elijah did with the prophets of Baal. We’re not afraid of other religions, because we believe God has spoken truthfully through his son, Jesus Christ and that Muslims are not our enemies. It is our desire to see their eyes open to the eternally life-changing message of Jesus radical sacrifice for our sin.