Thursday, August 26, 2010

The "Ground Zero" Mosque Controversy

I just finished a chain email on the "Ground Zero Mosque". I have been following the issue closely - and I must say that while most conservatives have been thoughtful in there analysis, some have not.

First, let me say that I think that the actions of those behind this mosque reveal that they have absolutely no understanding of how to reach Americans with their message. So far they have done nothing but insult the very people they say they want to reach out to. If they actually build this facility, they will do even more to set back their cause.

Second, as Americans we have every right to speak out against this insult. We can and should ask where they money is coming from. We should point out that there is no religious freedom in most of the Muslim world. We should ask why those who convert from Islam to Christianity or Judaism are subject to the death penalty. We should ask those behind the Mosque to prove they are really interested in interfaith outreach by seeking another site. We can and should shine the light of truth on Islam in America.

That said, what we cannot do in response to this move is to deprive Muslims living in America of their right to freely exercise their religion - even when we find how they do so offensive.

It does not matter that no churches are allow in Saudi Arabia, or that Christians are otherwise persecuted in Muslim nations around the world. It does not even matter that the religious rights of Christians who want to rebuild a church near ground zero have been clearly violated. The constitution, specifically the Bill of Rights, First Amendment, protects the religious rights of all of live in the U.S.

The danger here is great. If we restrict the rights of Muslims because we find how and where they choose to worship offensive - mark my words: Evangelicals and other conservative Christians will be next. Just ask the pastor in Canada who was jailed because he spoke from the Bible on homosexuality. He has now been forbidden by the government from preaching on the subject. Many, many people find what we have to say just as offensive as the building of a Mosque near Ground Zero. Quite a few of them would not think twice about amending or "reinterpreting" the First Amendment to allow "offensive" religious speech and practice to be banned.

Lest you think this is not possible, remember that in June four members of the Supreme Court had no trouble voting that "the right of the people to keep and bear arms" meant absolutely nothing and that government at any level could ban any and all kinds of arms. Fortunately, we currently have five members of the court who have integrity, and they ruled just the opposite. Change one vote and an entire provision of the Bill of Rights would have been neutralized as effectively as if it had been repealed. Do you really think the largely secular left in this country would not like to restrict the largely conservative Christian community? You bet they would. Let's not be dumb enough to give them the ammunition they need to do it.

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