Posted by: smstrouse | August 19, 2010

The Mosque at Ground Zero

Moving to another ‘one step forward, two steps back’ concern: resurging anti-Muslim sentiment, especially as September 11 approaches.  A church in Florida is planning to burn copies of the Qur’an on the anniversary of the September 11 terror attacks, claiming that Islam was responsible.  The event has already received over 1,500 messages of support on their Facebook page.   And of course there’s the controversy over plans for an Islamic community center near Ground Zero.

I remember the days after September 11, 2001 when I served a congregation in Buffalo, NY – not Ground Zero, but emotions were running pretty high. The Wednesday night discussion group decided they wanted to study the world’s religions, but not Islam first – later, but not just yet.  And we did. We even invited a member of the mosque in our neighborhood to come and talk with us about his faith and practice. And we accepted the invitation of the mosque to a community Open House. One step forward.

There have been many steps forward in promoting understanding about Islam and building relationships among all religions. But unfortunately then we take two – or more – steps back. I can understand being mindful of the feelings of the families of 9/11 victims. But we can’t allow our compassion to override our commitment to  religious freedom and to the facts about Islam. ‘Muslim’ does not equal ‘terrorist’ and we should all be seeking ways to educate others and show our solidarity with the Muslim community. We should also not tolerate the use of this situation as a political tactic to ‘get’ any politician who stands up for our constitution.

Whether or not you think the Islamic center should be built or not, we should take two steps forward in learning how to dialogue with one another: get our facts straight, speak out against inaccurate information, and most of all, make a stand against hateful language and actions.

This is an opportunity for members of all faiths to stand together with our Muslim brothers and sisters.  Let’s all take two – or more – steps forward in creating peace in this world.



  1. I cannot believe that a Church that calls itself Christian can sanction the burning of another faith’s holy book. Whether it is siblings picking on each other, gangs killing over “insults”, or religious wars, two wrongs never make a right!! And one retaliation just leads to another.


  2. You are right in your assertion that Muslim does not equal terrorist. Unfortunately too many of us generalize and paint a whole group with the same brush we paint an individual or small group of individuals. We as a society are guilty of as much judgmentalism now as ever. And we as a society MUST be reminded that in order to protect our own freedom, we must be ready to protect the freedom of those with whom we disagree.


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