“Your values aren’t our values. We know about your plans to open doors in our city, and we want you to know you’re not welcome here.”
Maybe… but I’m not talking about Chick-Fil-A and Boston (or Chicago… or probably a list of cities that will want to jump on this bandwagon to show how progressive and tolerant they are…)
I’m talking about Murfreesboro, Tennessee, and the unremarkable but apparently controversial mosque being built there.
Based on the estimate in the July 19th news story in the link, the worshipers might have already had their grand opening. I sure hope so. I hope they’re having the best Ramadan ever.
And I hope their opponents are choking on bile as they see it happening.
There’s a thing called the First Amendment in the Constitution. It goes something like this:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
In this case, no one’s worried about Congress. The Federal government is (to my knowledge) not involved at all. But what the folks in Tennessee seem to be forgetting is that the amendment that lets us freely step into our churches on Sunday wherever we’d like is the same amendment that permits Muslims to build a place for worship wherever they’d like.
Intolerance and fear are clearly a part of the issue. One resident talked about the Buddhist place of worship in town and how no one seems to pay those guys any mind.
“Well, with 9/11 and the whole terrorism thing, people are just a bit nervous about having a mosque in town.”
That’s a paraphrase, but you can read the sentiment in the article for yourself.
To that I’d say,
“With the vandalism and arson on private property, and the open hostility, maybe the Muslims are a bit more frightened of you than you are of them.”
I’d say that, but I’m afraid that (were they ever to read my pointless rant in this corner of the Web) the perpetrators of this fear-mongering would feel proud at the thought. “Look at how we stood up to those Muslims! We sure let them know they’re not wanted here.”
Yeah, good job. Way to go against one of the key reasons America was founded. Way to stand up against one of the freedoms men and women have fought and died to protect for the last 226 years. Take that, religious expression!
Regrettably, our freedom of speech (see First Amendment quote above) doesn’t create any hindrance or safeguard concerning spewing ignorance. Anyone can say pretty much whatever they want.
I approve that. I applaud that. I don’t want the government telling us what is approved speech and what is not. And I know the vast majority of Americans feel the same.
But that allows for voices of thinly-veiled hatred to speak terribly insensitive and frightening thoughts.
Horrible thoughts like the North Carolina preacher a few months back with his “I got an idea… we build an electric fence, and we take all the gays an’ put ’em behind it.”
Horrible thoughts like the mindless venom pouring out of the mouths of Westboro Baptist Church members. I won’t even quote their signs. You’ve seen them on the news, or you can google them and you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.
Horrible thoughts like that of one of the leading opponents of the Murfreesboro mosque. “I know we weren’t going to win the legal battle… I just wanted to show ’em they’re not welcome here. And I plan to keep up the fight.”
What fight? Once the mosque is built, as is permitted by local, state, and federal government, and by our fundamental freedoms in America, what fight is there?
I have several friends and coworkers who are gay. Some have made the point that they have come out in public because they don’t want to give anyone the impression that they will sit quietly while people malign or threaten them. They’re all sensible, thoughtful people who would love to leave that part of their lives off the radar. It’s such a minor thing to them, and it’s so not anyone else’s business. But oftentimes the terrible treatment they receive from others necessitates a harsh response, so they stand up and are counted. They stand up and say, “This mistreatment will not stand,” because they know there’s probably someone else sitting in quiet fear, too afraid to speak out in their own defense.
To my fellow Christians, I’ll say, how long are we going to sit in peace and quiet, shaking our heads, muttering a little tsk-tsk in shame, looking at stories like Murfreesboro or Westboro or the electric fence guy? I’ve often heard people ask, “Where are all the moderate Muslims to denounce what the radicals are doing?”
Sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.
Maybe we think it goes without saying. “Everybody knows” that Westboro Baptist Church is a bunch of nutjobs that have nothing to do with Christianity. “Everybody knows” that what that NC preacher is saying is horrific and wrong. “Everybody knows” that the First Amendment protects the rights of these Muslims in Tennessee.
Apparently everybody doesn’t know.
It’s time we stand up and be counted. Make sure that those who would wrap themselves in the American flag while clutching a Bible to their chest properly understand the significance of both of those symbols.
Make sure we speak out to those who would spread hate and fear in the name of Christ, and let them clearly understand:
“Your values aren’t our values. We want you to know you’re not welcome here.”