I guess for some who claim to be Christian, Matthew 22:37-39 is one of those conditional commandments that only apply to other Christians and not to everyone.
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.” – Matthew 22:37-39
It has been my understanding that love thy neighbor applies to everyone, not just your Christian neighbor.
This is what I believe many of my fellow Christians continue to misrepresent Christ, because they often use God, Jesus and the Bible to either damn people to a living hell of torment while using God, Jesus or the Bible as a proxy for their discrimination, bigotry and intolerance towards others.
Jesus did not waste his time discerning ethnicity, culture or religious beliefs in his ministry. He loved everyone the same, even when they did not love or demonstrate that love to or for him. As I know there are some who will point out an instance of Matthew 15:23 as a counter argument, but I look at their motives in making this argument while ignoring the counter arguments to their counter argument. This is often where we both get side tracked and entangled in conversations based on individual biases and preferences. So we miss the point.
Why Do I Care About Muslims?
I take this point up not to agitate or to apologize to anyone. I take this point up, because underneath the surface of this debate is an unconscious undertone of religious bigotry at work against the Islamic Center.
Some may ask the question, “As a Christian, why do I or should I care about Muslims, Islam or a building?”
I care because it is my understanding and belief as a Christian that I am to love my neighbor as I love myself. I care because I still have not found a logical or spiritual reason why I should discriminate against someone.
Unfortunately many who claims to practice Christianity as are those who claims to practice Islam has perverted the faith by distorting what is true. This is the case within any spiritual belief. There will always be some faction who may claim to be fundamentalist of the tradition, but fail to practice the fundamentals of the tradition. That is essential mutual respect of one another.
Why should I care?
I care because I know when you have had the opportunity to interact with many persons who practice Islam on an ongoing basis that interaction develops into a friendship and friendship into a kinship. That only occurs when both practice mutual respect towards each other. That’s why I care. Why don’t you should be the question?
Walk By Faith
What motivates me to speak as a Christian in defense of Muslims is first my adherence to my faith in where I sincerely strive to practice it in truth, not in perception of it or having truth. This puts another meaning to II Corinthians 5:7, because if you walk by faith and not by sight you are not concerned about being perceived to be right, true or spiritual, because it will be seen in your actions. What you defend, what you cherish, what you practice. In essence, whether you walk by faith or just concerned by being seen as walking by faith.
The Beloved Community?
Another reason why the opposition to the Islamic Center of Murfressboro attracted by attention is has nothing to do with the proxy of zoning issues that are waged, but the undertone of religious intolerance at work.
I’m not saying one side’s opinion is infallible and the other’s opinion is fallible, because both sides should be heard, but if this was a Christian organization seeking the same property in the same manner there may be similar zoning related questions or obstacles to be accounted for, but the public opposition would not be comparable if any at all. I’m sure some may not be honest enough to admit that probability, but this is why I harp on being considerate of others beyond your own understanding.
There’s a history of religious intolerance directed towards the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro. January of this year the sign that read “Future Home of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro” was vandalized with the words, “Not Welcomed”. That’s a fine example of the “Love Thy Neighbor.”
So the sudden opposition demonstrated by some should not be a big surprise, nor should the claims of zoning or legalities should be considered without suspicion of bias.
If America is ever going to be true to its words, then we must adhere to those words we claim to cherish. We the people may be the beginning of the preamble of the constitution of the United States, but when that statement was first written and the document was complete, ‘We’ did not included ‘Me’. The same continues to be true each time we don’t consider others and fall into the comforts of only thinking about me.
Many people who say they love America only want to focus on the good of America. We cling to our guns and religion like a 2nd Amendment militias. If we are to celebrate our religious freedoms, then stop opposing the right to religious freedom. Just because someone doesn’t believe what you believe doesn’t give you the right to oppose them for wanting to lawfully and respectfully practice what they believe.
References & Inspirations WSMV: Nashville – 18 January 2010 “Murfreesboro Islamic Center Sign Vandalized” Daily News Journal – 18 June 2010 “Mosque’s Approval Draws Residents’ Ire” Daily News Journal – 17 June 2010 “Mosque Faces Challenge” Daily News Journal – 17 June 2010 “Letter to Editor: Debate Needed on Islamic Center” Religious Tolerance “Thomas Jefferson’s 1777 Draft of a Bill for Religious Freedom” Religious Tolerance “An Act for Establishing Religious Freedom in Virginia 1786” The Holy Bible (NIV) “Matthew 22” Specifically verses 23 until the end of the chapter Islamic Center of Murfreesboro “Official Website”
Human Rights First – “2008 Hate Crime Survey Results: Violence Against Muslims”