Lately I have had a lot of people ask me my expert opinion on the Ground Zero Mosque situation. (By “a lot” I mean absolutely no one) So I thought I would write a blog post about what I think of the situation.
First, what is it that I know of the situation? Not much. These days I don’t get the chance to watch or read much news. Unless PBS kids and The Disney Channel start covering these kind of news stories, there is a good chance I won’t know too much about it.
What I do know, and what I am basing my opinion on, is that there is a proposed site a few blocks from the 9/11 terrorist attacks that is being readied to be built into a Muslim Mosque. Many are opposed to this on the grounds that it is insensitive to 9/11 attack victims families. What follows is my observations and my opinion on the matter.
Before I talk about the actual story, I have to comment on the way this story is delivered. What I mean is that much of the “news” we receive today comes at us via a 24 hour news medium. We have instant access to instant news as it happens. The news itself is mainly crafted in a way that makes it less about facts and figures and more a form of entertainment we can call “news”. The problem with receiving our news in such a fast paced world is that it leaves us little time to actually process news stories. For more on this read the classic “Amusing Ourselves to Death” by Neil Postman.
Why this matters is because what happens with stories like this one involving the mosque is that I am more apt to react to the news then to think about, process, and develop opinions based on the news. With little time to think and process this information I simply react and move on. My thinking about certain situations can be fragmented and confused. High School football, the war in Iraq, local weather, NYC mosques, local school boards are all covered in the same half-hour of news.
I can fall prey to spending too much time concentrated on things that are outside my own sphere of influence. I too often respond to things globally at the cost of effecting change locally. What value does my protest to the mosque really have? How does it affect my way of thinking, inform my daily decisions, and impact change in my family? Probably very little if I am to be honest.
Many people that are against this mosque probably drive by abortion clinics, adult novelty stores, and crime ridden parts of town everyday. Because we are so informed about the things going on in every part of the world, we can sometimes neglect those parts of the world God has given us a voice and a sphere of influence in. Again, what good does my opinion do if it doesn’t effect change locally? Why am I worried about a mosque in New York City to the neglect of the issues taking place around me in my own neighborhood.
This issue seems less about the proximity of this mosque to Ground Zero and more about a backdoor commentary on the religion of Islam as a whole. What is it about this issue that we are really upset about? I don’t think it is just the proximity of the mosque itself and more about the growing influence of Islam on the culture of America. To be honest, I am less offended by a mosque in New York City, where I am sure there are a lot more Muslims per capita, and more concerned about a huge mosque in the tiny city of Dalton, GA. I think the one in Dalton says more about the rise of Islam.
So what is the argument here? A mosque built within blocks of Ground Zero is insensitive to the families of 9/11 victims because the teachings of said mosque are the same and/or similar teachings that motivated the terrorists on 9/11. If that is true and that is your argument, why not work to have all mosques built in the USA blocked? Is one mosque less insensitive to 9/11 victims then another? I think this is simply a politically correct way to make a statement about Islam without really having to say what is truly on the heart; mainly the fear that the spread of Islam, its ideas, and its culture are dangers to our current way of life as a country developed by Western ideas and a Judeo-Christian foundation.
So those are my observations. I have to take time to think, process, and develop my opinions about the news we hear. My opinions have to be able to not only give me something to say at a dinner party, but must also inform my decisions locally. I must not neglect my own community, its issues, and needs, at the expense of being a clanging gong about something I have little ability to change. I must also brush past the surface level issue and get to the heart. This is about the role of Islam in our society and culture and what we are going to do about it.
So as a Christian it is my duty to think with a Christian world view about this mosque issue. Here is my attempt. In many ways I am against the building of this mosque. The reason is simple. I am against anything that sets itself up against the knowledge of God revealed in Jesus Christ through the Gospels and the Word of God. Islam does not teach a doctrine that is in line with the true nature of God, his glory, and does not reveal the Gospel as it truly is. So I am in a sense against this mosque. What does being against this mosque mean to me though? “Being against this mosque” means that if asked whether it should be built I would say, “No, it shouldn’t be built. Not because of the insensitivity to 9/11 families alone, but to the bigger issue of the false doctrine of Islam. But hold on. My “being against” doesn’t stop with just Islam. There are even “christian” churches and ministers that support and teach doctrines that, though they look more palatable, teach a doctrine that runs against the one of the Bible. I am thinking more along the lines of Mormonism, Jehovah’s Witness, and the Prosperity Gospel to name a few. (I am not a heretic hunter looking to strike down anyone whose theology is not exactly like mine.) I am against those for the same reason. Then there are abortion clinics, pornography stores, etc that set themselves up against the knowledge of God. I am “against” those too. My opinion does not simply stop with Islam. So I will fight against all those things that put a roadblock in front of the glory of God. But I “fight” knowing that the fight is not against flesh and blood, it is not against buildings, but it is a fight in the arena of ideas, a fight in the arena of men’s hearts, and a fight won on hands and knees.
So I am against this mosque. Or better put, I am for anything that puts God’s glorious work in His One and Only Son Jesus Christ on full display so that people may come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ by believing in Him, his birth, life, sacrificial death, and resurrection and allow Jesus Christ to become the Lord of their life. (Pretty sure that was a run-on sentence)
What do I do about it? First, I see if there is anything I can do productively about my opinion. How can my opinion effect change for the better?
1. Realize that there is a growing trend in the amount of Islamic people in this country. What do I need to know about this to be able to speak to Muslims and share the good news of the Gospel with them?
2. How do I need to train my children to think about the world they are growing up in?
3. How can I take the same principle “Being against anything that sets itself up against the glory of God revealed in Jesus Christ” and apply it to my neighborhood, city, and local church?
4. Realize that mosques are being built in this country because more people are Muslims or their influence is growing. How can I empower myself, my family, and my church to reach out to the the Muslim population with the power of the Gospel.
5. Make sure that, while I may be “against” a mosque being built, I let Muslim people know that I am for them and want them to have the abundant life that God created them to have in Christ Jesus.
So I say Christians should go “all in”. If the religious freedom we so cherish in this country allows for this mosque to be built then we should have a Mt. Carmel showdown. “You build your mosque, you pray to your god. We will build our churches, we will pray to Our God, and see who wins in the end.” (Don’t tell them this, but I read the last book and we win…In a big way!)