I’ve been receiving a lot of forwards and questions about the Muslim presence in NYC and in the USA in general. The anniversary of Sept. 11th, the plans to build a new masque near Ground Zero, and the recent threats to make Sept. 11th into "International Burn a Quran Day" have no doubt triggered much of the buzz finding its way into my inbox. Snopes has attempted to clear up some of the circulating emails full of misconceptions and over exaggerations – e.g., Obama is Changing Face of America. But my main concern isn’t the circulation of misinformation, it’s the underpinning animosity and the disregard for those who are different than us that I find alarming and disheartening.
Most of the forwards and comments coming my way are, seemingly, from professing Christians. My stomach turns as I read the harsh and oppressive words from people supposedly representing my Savior. Christ wouldn’t publicly disgrace an entire movement of people by disrespectfully burning something they see as “sacred.” Christ wouldn’t forward emails that spread false accusations or malign others simply because they are different or don’t belief as he believes. Though I’m sure there are numerous motives behind such actions, these actions are weak and inconsiderate. And, ultimately, they only hurt the cause of Christ.
Christ was strong; he was much stronger than that. He was/is strong in compassion and strong in truth. Unfortunately, many people in the world see Christ as a weak, unengaged bigot because this is (sometimes) how the Christian community is seen.
We must remember that we only represent him to the world when act as he acted.
I cannot stress how important it is that Christians be known for our love and consideration of others, not solely for the things we disagree with (John 13:34; Gal. 6:10). Muslims should be given as much freedom to peacefully pray or demonstrate their faith as any other religious group is allotted. First of all, its their constitutional right. That should be enough alone. Bigoted Christians or conservatives need to be careful with their wishing to revoke religious freedom…what if the table is one day turned on them? Christ himself said, “put your sword back in its place…for all who draw the sword will die by the sword” (Matt. 26:52). Christians should be treating and respecting Muslims as we would want to be treated and respected by those who differ with us (Lev. 19:18; Matt 22:39). But secondly, Christianity flourishes when freedom and open dialogue flourishes. Respect for others, a willingness to coexist, and a desire to respectfully engage other worldviews with the message of Christ has always been the true Christian way.
May we represent him and his truth well.