I’ve debated if I should chime in on the mosque being built on Ground Zero in New York City, and, since I believe many Christians have already talked about it, I don’t believe much needs to be covered. However, I do wish to point out something which hasn’t been talked about too much.
In my opinion, this is another example of how the secular state does not know how to handle religion. First, I don’t believe that a secular state (and, yes, the United States is included in this) if it attempts to consistently promote freedom of religion they can dismiss the mosque. The other side of the secular state’s confusion: Do you remember from earlier this summer the debate over France’s ban of Muslim women wearing full veils in public? I, for one, found this offensive but not surprising. It is another example of how the secular state just doesn’t know how to handle religion. The state desires that religion become private and out of the public sphere, but any committed follower of a faith knows that this is like sticking one’s finger in a spewing dam–eventually, the pressure will cause the water to spew out another place.
Second, it just won’t do for Christians to complain and say, “Well, we weren’t allowed to do so and so; therefore, they shouldn’t be allowed to do so and so.” And it won’t do for Christians to live in fear. I think there is some validity to what some columnists have said (even though I find my first point to be more the case). Fear can be very mobilizing, but it becomes demobilizing in the end. If we live in fear, we will never see God’s kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.
Here’s what I did not say — I did not say, “Let the mosque be built without reservation for the feelings of those who lost loved ones on 9/11/01″ (I do believe that argument is like a loose thread on a knitted sweater since it only takes one of those people to say, “Build the mosque as a sense of closure for my family and me,” for the entire thing to fall apart). I did not say, “Christians shouldn’t ever engage in the public sphere.” I am saying, “Christianity (and religion in general) is public.” I did not say, “The secular state is right.” Or, “The proponents (or opponents) are right.” I am saying, “We (religious and secular) have dug this hole and now don’t know how to get out of it.” Instead of being upset at the state or fearful of a religion, we should work together to climb out of this hole.