Islam and the Freedom of Religion
Recently the topic of freedom of religion has been in the news again due to a group wanting to build a mosque near Ground Zero. Some Christians are joining forces with those who equate Islam immediately with violence. They fear a mosque in their neighborhood because they think it will spread terrorism. Fear is a very powerful emotion that is very contagious. After 9/11 most of our exposure to Islam was in news stories about extremists and their angry anti-American sentiment. If we just take this information in without dialoguing and critiquing what we are watching and hearing, we make assumptions about all Muslims.
Amendment 1 to the Constitution reads, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof….” This law does not differentiate between religions but puts them all on an equal plane. This means that Muslims have every right to build a mosque in a city as Christians or any other religion have to build their own religious centers. This also means that if prayer is brought into the school, that all religions need to be recognized. I believe that some need to realize that we are not a Christian nation but a nation that was founded to give freedom to all religions and provide for a separation between the Church and the government. This separation is good for both the Church and the government.
Even if our faith says that there is only one way to God and that is through Jesus, we still need to show love and acceptance toward those of other faiths. We also need to understand that only a very small minority of Muslims are terrorists. We need to enter this culture of fear that is present today in our culture and speak with wisdom and love.