Thursday, September 2, 2010

Bigotry Against Muslims?

With all the continuing controversy about the proposed Islamic center close to Ground Zero, some who don’t oppose that building at that location are accusing those who do of bigotry. I hope that those who do oppose it aren’t trying to deny the Muslims their constitutional right to do so, but are questioning the wisdom of building an Islamic center so close to where 3,000 people died at the hands of Islamic terrorists.

But then I have to ask myself, “Am I bigoted? Am I prejudiced against Muslims?” I like to think of myself as tolerant and open-minded, but not so open-minded that my brains fall out, and not so naïve that I’m not in touch with reality.

Most prejudice is based on ignorance. After 9/11 I decided to learn about Islam, about which I knew very little. So I read several books on the topic, which were enlightening to me. Now that I am somewhat familiar with Islam and the Qur’an, I have a better understanding of where Muslims are coming from. Sadly, it is a religion that is hostile to non-adherents, whom the Qur’an calls “infidels.” That doesn’t mean every Muslim is hostile to non-Muslims, but it does mean most Muslims were brought up with that mindset. After all, it is in their holy scriptures which they take very seriously.

Islam promotes violence against, or subjugation of, infidels. Given what I know about the Qur’an, I understand what Islam and Islamic culture are all about. I’m in favor of building bridges and all that, but I believe in doing so one must always remember what Islam teaches about Christians and Jews. Having said that, I believe most Muslims just want to be left alone to live their lives in peace. It is only the fanatical few who cause all the trouble, but that few are very dangerous as we all know.

You might be saying at this point, “Some pretty bad things were done in the name of Christianity in the past. What do you say about that?” I agree that some terrible things have been done in the name of Christ, his Church, and Christianity. However, Christ preached unconditional love, peace, and living a godly life. The New Testament encourages Christians to lovingly share the Gospel with others, but does not encourage forced conversions and killing the “infidels” (even though those things were done by misguided Christians in the past).

So we have a dilemma here in the U.S. Our constitution guarantees freedom to practice our religion yet we have adherents in our midst of a religion that is hostile to non-Muslims. Our soldiers have died overseas fighting Muslims who want to hurt us, and we have been attacked on our own soil by extremist Muslims. What do we, as a freedom-loving and tolerant people, do?

I believe we need to seek God’s wisdom. At its core, this is a religious struggle (Islamic religion and culture are inseparable). We should pray to God for guidance. After all, they’re praying to Allah every day, five times a day. Should we Christians and Jews be doing any less?

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