Wednesday, August 4, 2010

My Heart Aches for My Nation.

One of the bigger controversies of 2010 is the proposed building of a Islamic community center, including a mosque, two blocks from the World Trade Center site also known as Ground Zero. The anger from victim's families and others show that 9/11 is still an open wound in the American psyche. One of the disgusting aspects of this controversy is that politicians are using that hurt and anger for their own political agenda. I read comment after comment on message boards and see nothing but pure hatred for Muslims, not just the radical Islamic terrorists who perpetrated the attacks on 9/11, but for all Muslims and those of Middle Asian descent, including Sikhs, Hindus, and Indians, because they "look" Muslim.

In the days following 9/11, President Bush stated unequivocally that "The face of terror is not the true faith of Islam. That's not what Islam is all about. Islam is peace. These terrorists don't represent peace. They represent evil and war." To his credit, President Bush made a sharp distinction between radical, terrorist, false Islam and the true nature of the faith. Unfortunately, Mr. Bush's fellow conservatives have erased that separation and now lump all Muslims together as terrorists who hate America. One reason for their erasure is pure political gain during an election year.

The argument that the only problem with this community center is its proximity to Ground Zero is a red herring. If this were the case, then no one would have a problem with mosques or community centers anywhere else. However, the battle over mosques and community centers is not limited to Lower Manhattan. Controversy and hate have sprung up in Brentwood and Antioch, Tennessee and other communities where plans are made for an Islamic community center. So the fact that the Cordova Center is two blocks from Ground Zero is really irrelevant. The fact that Muslims want to build a place of fellowship and worship is enough to stir up a hornet's nest of hate.

My heart aches for my nation because the hate in these people's hearts is the same hate Osama Bin Laden and those 19 men carried in their hearts. Why do we hate so? Are we no better than the terrorist who committed the atrocity of 9/11. This nation was founded on religious freedom and tolerance and when we begin to pick and choose what religion can and cannot be where we begin down a dangerous road. My fear is that this controversy will not end peaceable and without bloodshed. Even if and when this center is built there will be violence surrounding it. My heart aches because somewhere in the mountains of Pakistan Bin Laden is smiling because this kind of hate is exactly what he wants. 9/11 was not just about murdering 3,000 people, it was about kindling hatred among Americans and it seems Bin Laden was successful.

Hear us O God, we are foolish and yet you are wise. Our hearts are filled with hate and yet your very existence is love. Teach us Lord that love is the more excellent way. Break our hearts of stone and give us hearts for you alone. Give us hearts for love and remind us that every person is created in your image and that you are the God of us all. Amen.

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