Monday, August 23, 2010

Romans 12:21 (A Christian Perspective on the Park 51 Community Center)

I do not remember a time when my stomach has turned so violently just from reading about a particular issue in the news. But I literally feel sick as I read about the protest by some Americans over the planned community center and mosque near Ground Zero in NYC.

What astounds me most is that some of our nation's leaders are vocally promoting this discrimination. Do we not remember the principles upon which our nation was founded? Religious freedom. People came here to escape the persecution they were facing because of their religious beliefs. How is this any different? How can we claim to be the land of the free and stand behind our first amendment rights when people are openly and publicly decrying the building of this mosque?

It infuriates me that people want to equate Islam with terrorism. That is stereotyping in its worst and most blatant form. We cannot allow ourselves to associate the actions of the very few with the intentions of the much larger group with which they identified themselves.

I understand that people are up in arms because of the new mosque's proximity to Ground Zero. However, I think we would better honor the victims by graciously welcoming the building of the mosque. If we reduce ourselves to an attitude of hate, we are acting out of the same irrational fear that motivated these terrorists. What have we learned from this terrible tragedy if we cannot choose to act differently ourselves?

Do not be overcome with evil, but overcome evil with good.

This is our chance to show the world that we are not ignorant, selfish Americans. We can live up to the ideals on which we claim to stand. It is my deepest prayer that our Muslim brothers and sisters, especially those here in this country, will hear the voices that rise in support of them. That they will know that there are people who think it is sacrilegious to protest the building of a space of worship--in NYC, in Tennessee, anywhere.

I think we--people--are more than this. I believe we have the capacity to love more than we have to hate. I believe we best express our faith in God by expressing our faith in each other. I pray that this situation will be peacefully resolved, in a way that doesn't involve the Muslim community feeling pressured to back down. I pray that our country will elect and support leaders that don't actively promote discrimination. I pray that we can learn from the past as we live in the present and look towards the future.

Love wins.

(Image from

Whitney Pierce is a 2010 Beatitudes Summer Fellow alumna who served at Bread for The World in Washington DC. She is beginning her second year as a Master of Divinity student at Candler School of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta, GA.

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