There is an old saying that goes “You can’t believe everything you hear.” In this day and age, what with viral videos, soundbite political ads, Twittering, mass e-mail forwards and ever-shortening attention spans, we do tend to believe everything we hear. Research is time consuming and considered perhaps somewhat unnecessary in the information age. This is especially true if a piece of information creates an emotional response. We hear something that makes us mad, and in a blind rage forward e-mails, talk out of our heads, or fire off a heated blog post. Does it matter whether or not the info is true?
And that brings us to the Ground Zero Mosque. Building a Mosque just a few blocks from the site of the 9/11 terror attacks would help “undermine and destroy our civilization” according to Newt Gingrich. Sarah Palin has referred to the blocks surrounding Ground Zero as “hallowed ground.” Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf has been called a radical and violent Muslim, and accused of building the Mosque to make a case for supremacy. Before you start writing that letter to your local congressman, let’s take a clear, level headed look at this situation. Please.
There are no ties between Rauf and any radical faction of Islam. He condemns acts of terror, and is at times very critical of his own religion. He has made appearances both in Washington and at overseas events with Condoleezza Rice, Sec. of State for George W. Bush, and with Bush advisor Karen Hughes. On the other side of the isle he considers Madeline Albright, Sec. of State for Clinton, a friend. Rauf has worked over the years to improve conditions and seek peace between Christians, Jews and Muslims. Up until recently, Republicans and Democrats considered him moderate.
And now the kicker… He is not building a Mosque. At least half a dozen blocks from anything considered Ground Zero, he would like to build what will actually be called 45-51 Park Place. It will be a community center, standing in defiance of terrorism in a building that actually was damaged on 9/11. The site is currently being used for worship. It is the spillover of the al-Farah mosque located about a dozen blocks north of the former trade center site. There is another Muslim mosque, the Manhattan Mosque, only 5 blocks northeast of the site. The fit the whole country is having over a “Ground Zero Mosque” is ridiculous and mislabeled. There are already many Muslims living in NYC, as well as people of every race and many religions. They are a part of the fabric of New York and its people. There are already Mosques only blocks away from Ground Zero, and the one shaking up the political landscape is not even a Mosque!
Most of the information above was gathered from this report by the Associated Press. For those who believe many blocks in every direction of Ground Zero is hallowed ground, check out this pictorial of other business and establishments in the same neighborhood. Hallowed ground includes commercialism and immorality but not places of worship; how is that?
Now let’s shift gears.
When the Apostle Paul toured Greece, he noted that they had statues, alters and temples built to dozens of gods and goddesses. To make sure they had covered all their bases, there was even an alter dedicated to “the unknown god.” Paul offered to tell them who that unknown god was, and proceeded to explain the Gospel. Burning a Koran, setting fire to a mosque, or preventing people of others faiths to worship is not how we are told to bring the Kingdom of God. About 3,000 people died on 9/11/01. Many were Americans, but not all. Some were Christian, but probably far from all were. Undoubtedly a few atheists, Jews, and some that had no idea were victims. And don’t forget that Muslims died in those attacks as well.
Try to think about that the way God thinks about it. Every single person that died that day were individuals made in his image. Christ died for every single one, but only some of them were Christians. On the day of Judgement, there will only be two kinds of people; those whose names are in the Lamb’s Book of Life, and those that are not. Whether you were taken to church a few times by a saintly grandmother, or you’re a violent and radical terrorist that wants to destroy America, it doesn’t matter. God loves you, and wants you to receive the salvation that only comes through faith in Jesus Christ. That is the Gospel. No matter how many Palins or Gingriches say stupid things on the evening news in 30 second soundbites, we need to keep our focus on spreading the Word and building the Kingdom. And we do that by acting like Christ.
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