Thursday, September 9, 2010

Rights and What's Right

Religion is in the news again-- and in a big way.

The controversy over the proposed mosque/ community center near Ground Zero seems to gain in intensity with each new day. Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf now seems to intimate (threaten?) that the fury of Muslim extremists will be unleashed if the site is moved. I can appreciate the Imam's stated intent of a center that would draw people together and enhance the community. I am not as certain that this site, which has proven to be so divisive, is the best place to start the process. In this country Muslims and Baptists, and folks of any religious tradition, have the right to gather freely for worship and to construct places of worship wherever they please (subject to local zoning requirements). Yes, they have the right to build a mosque/community center in New York City near Ground Zero- but is it the right thing to do?

Then we have Rev. Terry Jones, pastor of the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville FL. (is anyone else quietly relieved that he's not a baptist?) Rev. Jones and his flock have decided to commemorate the 9/11 anniversary with the public burning of Islam's sacred book, the Q'uran (Koran). Military leaders are concerned that such an act will increase the risk to our troops, diplomats are concerned about the impact on international relations, this baptist preacher wonders how this will help us talk with Muslim co-workers and neighbors about the love of Jesus. In this country book burning is a protected version of the right to freedom of expression and free speech. Again, they have the right, but is it the right thing to do? Personally, I am praying for a hurricane... or at least a large thunderstorm to settle over central Florida.

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