Much has already been written about the proposed Islamic Center (which includes a mosque) to be built a couple of blocks from the site of the World Trade Center attacks. President Obama has recieved a lot of derision for his opinion that the government should not stop an Islamic Center from being built on private land.
This situation started to become real for people from Cincinnati recently with the announcement that a mosque will be built in Florence, KY–a short trip south of Cincinnati. A non-profit organization called “The Mercy Foundation, Inc.” owns the private land on which the mosque is to be built. As long as the organization meets the zoning requirements, which they have so far, the building project will continue to move forward.
There are many people in the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky area who do not want the contruction to take place. Some seem even fearful of it. A flier has been circulated in the Florence area with the words “Americans need to stop the takeover of our country.”
The Muslims who want to worship in this mosque are Americans. Why would we assume that because someone is a Muslim, they are not American? They work and pay their taxes just like the rest of us do. The organization owns the private property. They are required to hold to the zoning laws just like everyone else. Why shouldn’t they be allowed to build a mosque?
The underlying theme in most of the criticisms of the mosque is that somehow it is impossible to be a Muslim and an American at the same time. It is even worse when we hear some Christians jumping on the same band-wagon. In any other situation, many of these same Christians would say that the government is too big and is involved in too much of the private lives of citizens. But in this situation many of them want government to step in and disallow the mosque to be built, whether we are talking of the one in Florence or the one in New York.
As Christians we should have a different response. We should uphold the rights of everyone, not just the rights of the groups we agree with. As Christians, we also need to pay special attention to the rights of those groups who are being abused. Many, many times through the Bible we hear that we need to help the foreignor, the fatherless and the widow. Why? Because it is those groups at that time that were being abused.
As Christians, we cannot allow the rights of others to be taken away. We need to ask ourselves, “Do I still believe in freedom of religion? If so, for everyone, or just for Christians?” Even moreso, as Christians we need to ask ourselves, “Whose rights are being abused around us? How can I change that?” The free choice to worship is a choice given to every person by God–not just to those who choose the Christian religion.