Saturday, August 14, 2010

A Note for Americans (and for Christians) About the Proposed Manhattan Mosque

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I don't generally consider blogs to be an ideal forum for charitable conversation, however, I feel so strongly about this I feel compelled to say what I think and offer to read your responses with the same grace and charity which I hope you will extend to my words.

For Americans:
Whenever people and nations go through traumatic times they face a choice. How do we integrate what has happened into the rest of the story of our lives? Do we let it make us angry and afraid? Bitter and reactionary? Or do we find a way to weave our hard and painful experiences it into the arc of who we have been and who we want to be?

After 9/11 all Americans faced this choice and we continue to face it today. I understand that the suffering, trauma and loss of both the families who lost loved ones and the rest of America is real and painful, even today. But we must choose not to be defined by that experience.

As we consider who we as a nation have been and would like to be in the context of the proposed Muslim Community Center in Manhattan, we can turn to the story of what America has been in the past: a place where, just up the coast in Boston and Providence people journeyed across oceans to carve out a space for themselves and their families to live out their faith in accord with their own consciences, free from the interference of the religious and political majority who had not let them worship as they wished or build churches where they wished.

This is why I agree with President Obama that this is an issue of freedom of religion that goes back to the core of who we have been as a nation. We now get to choose:

Will we let 9/11 change who we have been, because we still live with the scar of ground zero?   Or will we remember who we have been, join our future to our past and demonstrate that we can live out what we claim to believe.

For Christians:
I have intentionally not made any arguments from within my own Christian faith. This is because I believe this question is a live one for all Americans, not just Christians. That said, we as Christians may want to consider what our Lord's command to love our neighbors as ourselves might suggest in this case.

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