I highly recommend taking twelve minutes to watch Keith Olberman’s monologue on the outcry against the “mosque” that is planned to be built “at Ground Zero.”
I don’t know when this originally aired, but the You Tube post from which I embedded that was put up on August 18, so it’s been nearly two weeks, at least. It was about that time that I first heard some of the facts about this “mosque” that Keith has pointed out: it’s not a “mosque” but a community center with prayer rooms, a basketball court, and a culinary school, it’s not “at Ground Zero” but several blocks away, and the Islamic community behind it has been in New York for decades. While I didn’t rise up in righteous furry when I first heard about the mosque at Ground Zero, I certainly wasn’t a fan of the idea. Then I heard the truth behind it and quickly realized that it’s nothing to be upset over; I fear that far too many more people’s pride won’t allow them to drop their anger so easily.
I understand and agree with Keith’s warnings of the possible consequences of allowing anti-Islamic violence in America to continue unchecked and ignored. I think the most powerful part of that whole speech was his quoting of Martin Niemöller. I want to add to Olberman’s dissection of it a Christian perspective–
Christianity and conservatism/The Republican Party are not synonymous. “Christian” and “church-going American” are not necessarily synonymous. “Christian” and “Oh sure, I believe in Jesus and God” are especially not synonymous. And this time I’m not meaning it from the angle of “being a Christian doesn’t mean you have to protest abortion clinics and vote Republican,” though that is true. What I mean is when Gingrich or Palin or Beck spout something off as truth and try to sound like they’re on the side of Christianity, realize that they are after their own agendas, and on their own missions, not following Jesus. They are not our spiritual leaders. They are politicians and pundits seeking votes and viewers, not to advance the Kingdom of God. If you make an effort to understand the vast divide between the them and Jesus, you’ll find yourself having to choose a side. Not between left and right, not between donkey and elephant, not even between pro-choice/anti-abstinence/evolutionist and pro-life/pro-abstinence/creationist, but between following man or following Jesus. And that’s good.
But there’s another side to this, still. Olberman and the Left, and those on the Right, all make a broad assumption as to what I, a Christian, should value most. They assert that I should value what America values first; that my first concern should be defending and upholding this country’s freedoms (in various interpretations, depending on who’s talking), and that I should stand proud next to my atheist, Jewish, Islamic, Buddhist, Unitarian, etc., brethren as Americans and say, “Freedom is important most of all.”
Well, I don’t believe that. I understand the value and privilege of living in a country like this, and try to keep in mind not to take for granted what I have in that. But my first concern is living my life for God and following his commands, and part of that is spreading his message to all people. I don’t believe at all that “whatever you believe is fine as long as you’re a good person.” I believe that without accepting Jesus’s sacrifice, one cannot be justified before God, and will therefore spend eternity in Hell, separated from Him. At that point, one’s thoughts won’t be, “But at least I was ‘Free.'” And this is where a lot of Christi-conservi-publicans find themselves, and use that to justify such things as demanding that the people behind an Islamic community center renounce the Koran to get the building permits.
Now let’s flip that on its head to bring this post full circle. Jesus did not raise up a military against the Philistines. Paul did not lobby the Roman Empire to accept The Way. James did not organize protests outside the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem. They spoke truth, took care of each other, invited others in, and loved and prayed for their enemies. That is what Christians do. That is what far too many are not doing.
There’s not much more I can add to this. I hope I got my point across.