A Christian’s Response to the Mosque near Ground Zero and Burning the Quran

There are many Christians in America who would say they are thankful for religious freedom. They would say they prize it and strive to protect it, through voting, or boycotts, or peaceful demonstrations. But it seems there is a misunderstanding about what religious freedom is. I looked, but I couldn’t find in the Constitution where it says that religious freedom is only for “Christian” religions.
Be honest. Would there be national uproar over a Baptist or Presbyterian or Catholic church being built a few blocks from ground zero? I highly doubt it. But there’s tremendous upheaval over a Mosque. And shockingly, it’s mainly Christians that are opposing it: the same people who claim to value religious freedom in America!
Interesting logic: unfortunately, Saudi Arabia doesn’t have religious freedom, America does. It needs to act like it. 
Go read the Constitution, and tell me if it says only Christians are allowed to build houses of worship where they want to. I thought it said Americans were allowed to build houses of worship where they wanted to. We Christians often thank God for the soldiers who have fought and died for our freedoms, but do we realize that really, they were fighting for all Americans, so that all people could live and worship without fear of persecution? If we as Christians really want to protect religious freedom, we can’t be selective.
And let’s get something straight here. I’ve heard many times: “They’re trying to build a Mosque on Ground Zero!” On Ground Zero? Go read the news, because it’s a few blocks away! You can Google map it if you’re not convinced.
And after you’re finished with the Constitution and the news, try reading the Bible. It saddens me that I have to say this to Christians, but we seem to have forgotten the golden rule: “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 7:12). Guess who said that? Jesus Christ, the one we claim to want to be like, to show the whole world His love.
And what about burning Qurans? Someone who claims to be a Christian came up with the idea of a “National Quran Burning Day.” He isn’t alone, other Christians support it! The thought process as I understand it is something along the lines: “Well, they burn Bibles! They hate Christians! Why shouldn’t we burn their holy book? After all, it’s just a book of lies, and ours is the truth.”
When Jesus was on earth, did he go to Rome and Greece and burn their idols? He claimed to not only have truth, but actually be the truth. If anyone had a right to destroy other religion’s texts or icons, He did! But instead he said: “In everything, do unto others as you would have them do to you.” And “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Apostle Paul went to both Athens and Rome, the centers of the world’s religions in that day. Not once did he burn a single book of Athenian humanistic philosophy, or one Roman god. In fact, in Athens he studied their religion, and used it as a basis for sharing the gospel in his famous sermon on Mars Hill. Paul said to imitate him as he imitated Christ. Are we imitating either one of them in our blatant disrespect for other religion’s texts?
I’m encouraged to find that I’m not alone on this. Family Life radio news reported on the add run in the New York Times today that simply claimed: “Burning the Quran does not illuminate the Bible.” It was sponsored by the American Bible Society, whose president mentioned in a news release: 

“The intent of this ad is to communicate that the true biblical response to those of other faiths-or no faith-is respect and civility in religious discussions, disagreements and debates.  Acts of hatred in the name of Christianity are antithetical to the good news of the Gospel so intrinsically expressed in the Bible.” 

This full page add was signed by Christian organizations across denominations, including Campus Crusade for Christ, Focus on the Family’s Jim Daly, Family Talk’s Dr. James Dobson, New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan, Chuck Colson, Ravi Zacharias, and Concerned Women for America’s Penny Nance. Read about it here and here.
Perhaps you’re thinking: “But they killed 3,000 people on 9/11!” and “But don’t you know America is a Christian nation? Not Muslim!”
Who’s the enemy? Muslims aren’t the enemy: Terrorism and Evil are.
1.     The people who killed 3,000 people on 9/11 are dead. They were Muslim, but they were also Terrorists. Muslims aren’t the enemy. Terrorists are. Evil is. And as Christians, we should recognize that there is an evil sin nature in every one of us. It’s un-educated and illogical to assume that all Muslims are terrorists. That’s like saying all Americans are Christians.
Also, what does the Bible say about how Christians should treat their “enemies”? It’s crystal clear: “You have heard that it was said ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you; Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also” (Matt. 5: 38.39). “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven” (Matt. 5: 43,44). If we hate Muslims, or even terrorists, we are acting just like them. We are not being different from unbelievers; we are not living as Christ commanded.
2.       This second statement is a deeply rooted idea among Christians, and it’s faulty at its core. America was founded for all people of all races and all religions, on moralistic principles probably derived from the Bible. Saying that America is Christian is like saying America is Caucasian. And unless the President is Jesus and he completely oversees government, and every citizen is a born again believer, I don’t see how you can claim that you have a Christian nation. Just because it’s founded on certain principles doesn’t mean even the government is Christian, much less the entire nation. Actually, there are more Christians in China than there are in America; so really, China has a better case than we do for being called a Christian nation.
While some may regard Christianity as American, and Islam as not American, I’d like to remind you where both religions started: Not in America. Interestingly, they both started in the Middle East. Both books were written in the Middle East. Muslims and the Quran are just as “American” as Christianity and the Bible. And just because the Bible is in English, doesn’t make it American, sorry!  And just because the Pilgrims got to America first, still doesn’t change the fact that they came for freedom to worship however and wherever they chose.

We like to say that Jesus died for the world, but do you realize who that includes? Everyone, Buddhist, Catholic, Baptist, Atheist, New Age, Mormon, and Muslim. We like to lump all Muslims into a group of terrorists trying to overrun our country; them we de-humanize them, support dropping a nuke and wiping them all out. We forget that each one is a soul, a precious human life. We forget how God sees them, how he cares about them and loves them, each and every one of them, enough to die for them. If that’s how God sees Muslims, what right to do we have to hate them?

  • Very thought-provoking post on a difficult and controversial subject… Blessings on your day, amiga! 🙂

  • Joy Brace

    Great thoughts Em! The only one I somewhat disagree with is the comment that America is not a Christian nation. I don't think the term refers to its population but rather to the principles of its inception. America is unique in the foundational concepts of our original documents and governmental structure. These clearly were derived from concepts of the Judeo Christian God and His Word. True religious freedom comes from the very concepts you were mentioning of love for others and winning them by the love of Christ not constraining them to Christianity. This first excercised in the Baptist colony of Rhode Island which later has a huge impact in the formation of the religious freedom we now take for granted. Also clearly defined is the understanding that man has intrinsic value as the creation of God, although this was imperfectly applied until after the Emancipation of slaves many years later and later civil rights movement. The erosion of these foundational concepts are a deep part of the spiritual decay now so prevalent.
    Thanks for your post. You are so right about exercising anyone's religious freedom. If Muslims are restricted today, will we be restricted tomorrow? Have a great day!

  • The "principles of it's inception" that you've mentioned are indeed BIBLICAL, but they really have nothing to do with CHRIST or our need for him (they are mainly derived from the 10 Commandments, long before He came to earth). Consequently, the word "Christian" doesn't seem fitting. I think we'd both agree it takes more than a belief in God to be a Christian, so it should take more than an acknowledgement of Him as Creator and Sovereign Being to make a Constitution, government, and nation "Christian."

    You're right that the "erosion" of the Biblical foundations has resulted in today's spiritual decay. That "spiritual decay" is why I believe "The United States is Christian inasmuch as it looks like Christ. CHRISTIAN came to refer to those disciples who saw themselves as "little Christs," people who were literally the body of Christ, the hands and feet of Jesus alive in the world. As our brother Rob Bell says, Christian is a bad adjective, but a good noun"(Jesus For President). If its leaders don't follow Christ, and the nation as a whole doesn't exhibit repentance for sin and a desire to be Christ-like, I don't believe it can be said to be Christian.

    That's a short explanation, I hope it makes sense.

  • The reason that people would not care if they were building a church only 2 blocks away from Ground Zero because the terrorists did not murder 3000 people in the name of the Christian God…they murdered them in the name of the Muslim religion.

    And yes, those specific terrorists are dead, but there are many many more terrorists we are STILL AT WAR WITH. Not all Muslim are terrorist, in fact most of them are very wonderful people. But all the terrorists we are currently fighting are Muslim.

    The Muslims have every right to build a mosque wherever they want to. BUt if their intentions were peaceful, wouldn't they want to move it since it is such an emotionally charged issue?

    I do however agree with you 100% that the burnings of the Quaran are absolutely disgusting. We should not disrespect anyone's religion, especially in such a horrible way.

  • I came over from BlogFrog, by the way

  • Clarification on my comment above: I was quoting a book that quoted Rob Bell. I honestly hadn't heard of him before, and Honormommy has rightly brought it to my attention that he has some funky ideas…So please take the quote for what it's worth, but this is not an endorsement or agreement with all of Rob Bell's teachings 🙂

  • Thanks, Emily! I think a lot of Christians or people who are just calling themselves Christians have been poorly reflecting Christ in this. I have also heard, that the imam of this mosque said that if he would have known it would have caused so much trouble, he would have picked another spot, but now that they have come this far, it seems that they have to stick to their decision and show people that we can all live in some sort of peace (very rough quote from my memory). Miss you!

  • Religious freedom and cheek turning aside…building a mosque on (or next to) Ground Zero would be like hanging a swastika at a holocaust memorial.

  • >>"Go read the Constitution, and tell me if it says only Christians are allowed to build houses of worship where they want to. I thought it said Americans were allowed to build houses of worship where they wanted to."

    Actually, the Constitution is silent on religion (including zoning regulations) except to state that there can be no state establishment of one.

    No one is saying the ground zero mosque _can't_ be built, but many (myself included) are saying it ought not be built.

    No, not all muslims are terrorists, but enough are to warrant a gimlet eye towards what seems a triumphalist political statement rather than a house of worship.

    We are not at war with a terrorism because that is simply a tactic employed by a radical fascistic ideology that mixes religion and politics. To ignore the fanatical religious nature of such a movement is simply whistling past the graveyard; in this case the graveyard of thousands of fine Americans.

  • You're absolutely right-the Constitution itself doesn't say anything about religion, it's the AMENDMENTS to it known as the Bill of Rights that does. I probably shouldn't be lumping those together. Thanks for pointing that out!