Friday, September 10, 2010

9 years later, what have we learned?

The last 30 days or so have been kind of not real for me. I mean, obviously they are real and I'm in them and experiencing them and feeling them.

But it seems like daily, as the 9 year anniversary of September 11th approaches, there has been more hate, more ignorance, more fear throw around. It makes me sad to think that 9 years after that sorrowful and fateful day we have learned nothing about loving and embracing. Those of us who turned to our faith have apparently forgotten the message that our faith provides.

I am of course talking about how America, or at least the media in America, seems to be focusing on Muslims, the Muslim faith and apparently controversy involving Muslims where ever they can find it.

I started noticing it when I heard "Ground Zero Mosque". The title suggested to me that someone wanted to build a mosque at Ground Zero in New York. I thought that was odd and, well, possibly not a good idea.

So I did some reading and research. Turns out no one wants to build a mosque at Ground Zero. But a religious group wants to build a Muslim Community Center several blocks away from Ground Zero in an abandoned building that was formerly a Burlington Coat Factory store.

Somehow though Ex-Burlington Coat Factory Community Center just doesn't sound the same though. Well, not if you want to enrage and incense people and get them up in arms about something.

It's not at Ground Zero. It's not a mosque.

Sure, it will have a prayer area in it. It will also have a basketball court. And a swimming pool. I'm pretty sure we won't be calling it a stadium or water park though. I have delivered 2 of my 3 children in Catholic Hospitals but I don't tell anyone they were born in a church even though they DID have chapels in them. So it's not a mosque.

Immediately in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 lots of people asked why. Including myself. I could not fathom the WHY and I generally like to know the WHY of things.

Lots of people seemed to think the terrorists hated out freedom. They hated our way of life. Hated our FREEDOM. Especially that whole Freedom of Religion thing. And yet here we are, 9 years later, saying, essentially "screw your freedom of religion". Well, not all of us. But some of us. A large majority of us, if you believe the polls you read online.

Apparently we are willing to loudly scream about freedom of religion (even though it's not really a mosque) but we mean only for us. Us. Not Them. Christians. Jews. Anyone but Muslims. We are willing to say "Yes of course you can have freedom of religion but, you know, can you do it somewhere else? Somewhere not here." Which isn't really freedom at all.

Following the Ground Zero Mosque controversy comes a Pastor from Dove World Outreach Center in Florida decides that September 11th should be burn a Qur'an day. Let me say that again, a Christian Pastor thinks we should declare a specific day to burn the holy books of another religion. The irony of calling his church a World Outreach does not escape me.

The Quran mentions Jesus specifically by name 25 times. Did you know that? Did you know that the Quran teaches that Jesus was born to Mary from virginal conception and that his purpose was to guide the people of Israel? Did you know that Islam teaches that Jesus was raised up to Heaven and will return to Earth on the Day of Judgment to defeat the false messiah?

There are differences between Islam and Christianity to be sure. But are we really saying it's okay to burn a holy book which proclaims that Jesus is the Son of God?

When we say Muslim do we realize we are talking about American's? That we are telling American's they can't have a community center that celebrates their religion as well as basketball and swimming and a library? Because they share a religion with people who flew planes into buildings that killed thousands of people.

Except they don't really share the same religion anymore than Pastor Terry Jones and I share the same religion. Sure, we can both say we are Christian. But I can promise you that the Christianity I practice and the Christianity he practices are apparently VASTLY different.

To note, I believe in the Freedom of Religion along with our other freedoms and embrace them. I do not, however, believe that Terry Jones burning the Qur'an is an expression of his religion anymore than Catholic Priests who molested children were expressing theirs.

So it is with terrorists who are Muslim and American Muslims.

American Muslims had a loss that day on September 11th, 2001 as well. People that shared their faith, and I don't mean those flying the planes into buildings and fields, died that day. They lost loves ones. They saw their cities destroyed. They saw their country on the verge. They asked "Why?".

I truly don't know the answer to Why, even now, 9 years later.

I'm pretty sure it isn't because they hate our freedom.

But just in case, let's really show them. Let's love our neighbors, all of them, including the Muslim ones SO much that we encourage them to reveal and enjoy their community centers and places of worship and holy books without fear or concern or doubt.

Let's show them that when we talk about Freedom in America, we really, truly, mean it for everyone.


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