Posts Tagged ‘ Muslim ’

Commentary: Ground Zero Mosque

I am sure most everyone has heard about the potential “mosque” near ground zero – in reality it is an islamic-based community center open to all peoples. Newt Gingrich and other primarily politically and socially conservative public figures have becoming increasingly outspoken about their disdain for this idea and claim that it is offensive and un-American – ignoring that 10 percent of those who died in the attacks were Muslim and that the American quilt consist of Muslims. Some have lighter opposition and simply do not want the mosque close to 9-11.

To speak truth, 9-11 was the result of a terrorist attack perpetrated by Muslims. The tragedy is terrorism not Islam. Yes, they were influenced by passages in the Koran, but it is kin to Christian slave owners proliferating modern slavery in colonial and early America. These Christians were inspired by and utilized the Bible as their defense. Slavery, not Christianity, was the issue. Now I am not making a plea for the theological correctness of Islam and I am not an unitarian. Arguments towards such ends are mere strawmen. I believe that the Christian faith, towards which I am unwaveringly committed by the redemption that is in Christ, is concerned with hospitality, even towards those who are quite different. Christianity is concerned with love, even towards – if not especially – towards those who do not know the love of Christ. Christianity is concerned with reconciliation. This reconciliation is perhaps the most potent of points. The terrorists want us to be like them, evil in its simplest, wants to beget more evil. Unjust war begets unjust war. Hatred begets hatred. oppression begets oppression. This is the cycle of sin of transgression. This is the reason why the Father God sent the Christ incarnate; to reconcile us to take us out of the cycle and put us back into right relationship with God. Allowing . . . welcoming, the Islamic center, is a picture of that reconciliation. It is not the full reconciliatory process which we receive through Christ  – to suggest that is blasphemous -,but it is a mirror of that ultimate reconciliation and a means for Christians to be Christ-like and to show the world who the Christ is and what the Christ has done for and offered us all.

Bible Banner or Banned Bible?

The students at Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High had to give up a tradition that began after 9-11. The school’s football team had the tradition of starting the game by running through a banner with a verse of Christian scripture painted on it. The banner tradition is fairly common for high school football – we used to do it in little league football games – but the addition of a verse is generally something only seen a Christian high schools.

Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High is in northern Georgia, and the Bible belt extends that far. The context of this high school seems as if it is overflowing with southern Christian culture.  Thus, the removal of the banner has had a direct impact.

The issue started with a mother of a football player called the superintendent and suggested that someone might file a lawsuit over the banner if it isn’t removed. Catoosa County schools Superintendent Denia Reese – realizing the legal ramifications – agreed and called for the removal of the banner – and subsequent ones used by cheerleaders on the sidelines.

Despite my Christian faith and the frustration of the folks down in Northern Georgia, I believe this was actually the correct decision.

On the one hand, the school is making sure it isn’t in violation of the first amendment by promoting  establishment of religion. The reality is, having a public banner with a biblical verse on it suggests promotion. I am completely aware of southern culture and the fact that Christianity and scripture is utilized by a multiplicity of folks. For the folks down in Georgia this banner wasn’t proselytizing, it was expression who they were – save some students and families.  But the line is too fuzzy.

On the other hand, the school is promoting the free exercise of religion. Parents, fans (students or community members) are free to make banners with verses on them. Moreover, the football team is allowed to huddle and  have an optional prayer before the game. Faith is not being erased.

I would argue that there is a possible midpoint as far as the banner, and other public expressions of faith, is concerned. Religion is a set of beliefs, with a set of practices that are supposed to align and support those beliefs. Many scientists – in both the hard and soft sciences – are religiously connected. Some individuals are religiously connected to the United States and patriotism. Depending on the verse Christian scripture should be used, but it should be used beside Islamic scripture, Jewish scripture, non – (formal) religious quote etc. If that is done we are expressing the diversity of beliefs in American and not promoting any one of them. And acknowledging wisdom in various religious traditions.

A Lighter Side of Islam

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Al Jeezera – English posted an article referring to the efforts of Islamic Relief, which is a British Based NGO trying to erase the Stigma of AIDs in Africa.

 

 I know that there are great complexities with supporting Islam in any mannner. Koranic Theology does not exclaim the love or peace of Allah. But I also believe that is important that those fighting the AIDs epidemic, Islamic or otherwise should be praised. More importantly, it is important that we acknowledge the positives in the Islamic world in order to break down the “terrorist” stigma of Muslims.