I come from the Baptist tradition with a long history of religious tolerance and acceptance of pluralism in the world religious sphere. The right to worship as one sees fit is and always has been an integral part of Baptist thought and this has always extended to non-Christian religions as well. While any true Baptist should seek to evangelize it should never be done through compulsion or mandate or edict because doing so runs counter to Soul Freedom. Further I believe that any such conversion or evangelism through force creates poorly catechized Christians, weak and unstable in their faith and this, as we see played out all to often introduces instability in churches and leads to believers who fall away when confronted with challenging questions or life circumstances.
Though Islam is far removed from Christianity these rights to soul freedom should be granted them as a matter of course, this includes their right to worship and build mosques in communities where they live. However as is true of all important matters truth is nuanced and rights and freedoms MUST be weighed against certain realities if they are to be protected for future generations. This is not a way of ceding to security over freedom but rather a way of acknowledging that true freedom comes with certain obligations.
As we consider the building of Mosques in America today we need to consider the following…
a. is there a historical role of Islam in the United States?
b. Does Islam offer something of value to the United States or its citizenry?
c. What is the goal of Islam in America today?
Before we get ahead of ourselves lets get one thing clear. Most Mosques are no more a threat to the United States than any other group of like minded people. However mosques in todays world need to be given special scrutiny.
What is a mosque? Literally, it is a place of submission to the word of Allah, or the Quran. Unlike Judeo-Christian religious thought Islam demands only submission and grants the believer certain rights to deceive non-believers in a process called the Taqiyya. Around the world we see terror groups using mosques to radicalize Muslims and create “home-grown” terror operatives that act independently of core groups, such as ISIS and Al-Queda but under the general orders of Jihad and too often these operatives mesh in with society because they utilize the Taqiyya to deceive their neighbors, families, co-workers and government agencies. By contrast our Christian faith looks to peter and his denial of Christ as a point of great shame from which Peter sought desperate forgiveness. We are called to pick up our cross not conceal it and to be lights to the world, not candles flickering hidden beneath a basket.
Until such time as the greater Muslim faith begins to police it’s own or the threat of terror becomes a manageable threat every mosque should be held in suspicion and given greater scrutiny. So yes Russell Moore, it is right and proper to extend religious freedom to its maximum limits, but it is foolishness and very much un-biblical to allow evil to rise because we do not wish to confront it or define it in real terms. At one time the radical mosques that gave sanctuary to the perpetrators of the San Bernardino shootings, the Orlando shootings, the Boston Marathon bombing, the Fort Hood Massacre, the shooting in Chattanooga and so many others here and around the globe were once looked upon with suspicion because there is something inherently troubling about Islam, a feeling of unease that goes back centuries and is not a matter of paranoia, but of very real events.
In the aftermath of the Orlando shootings I remembered an old action movie, Delta Force where Chuck Norris fought Lebanese hijackers to save hostages. This was of course only a movie but it was inspired by the real Iranian hostage crisis and bore striking similarities to the hijacking of Flight 847 only a few month earlier.
Then I thought of the 1972 Munich Olympic massacre perpetrated by the Palestenian Group Black September, a philosophical forerunner to Hammas.
And can we forget what the Taliban did to Afghanistan or what happened on 9-11? All these have one thing in common, Islam. And contrary to some liberal arguments this is not a corrupted version of Islam, but a divergent and literal interpretation of Islam that carries widespread acceptance of if not always the methods, then at least the ultimate goals. And for America it goes back even further if we were to be honest, to the Barbary Pirates who were sanctioned by the Islamic state to prey upon Christian merchant shipping. This is the same Islamic state groups like ISIS today want to rebuild.
The threat is not knew, the methods are not new. The only new thing is how we are responding, by surrendering our values in the name of a false promise of toleration. I suspect that Russell Moore and the SBC are more motivated by diminishing church numbers and frequent accusations from secular corners than by any real philosophical agreement on religious freedom.
The sad truth is there are many ways of surrendering and one way is to lose the strength of your convictions, and an understanding of what they really mean and embrace moral relativism. I doubt that Christ would have sought to tear down a mosque had they been present then and he certainly would have spoke of love and forgiveness and of not casting stones but I doubt he would have been so quick to welcome a group into his community whose sole motivation was to destroy that community. In fact Chirst warned his disciples about being vigilant.
As Americans it is incumbent upon us to protect our freedoms, provide a safe space for the fullest exercise of freedom and establish those freedoms for future generations.
As Christians we must confront evil in the name of Jesus Christ and under the guidance of the Holy Bible
Ephesians 5 11:12 “Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them” By continually praising toleration no matter what we are taking part in dark deeds and failing to expose them for what they are. Can the good man praise sin and still be counted as good?
And finally, thought this will be uncomfortable to many in America, freedom and democracy themselves can become idols which we worship. When we place patriotism, and ideals of freedom and democracy on a higher platform than upholding the word of God and doing what is right, under obedience to Gods words then we are worshiping nationalism and national ideals just as surely as the Israelites worshiped the golden calf.
As 1st John, 2:15 tells us, “stop loving the world and the things that are in the world. If anyone persists in loving the world, the Fathers love is not in him.
In closing, ask yourselves do you so love American democracy and our idea of what amounts to freedom that you would value it above the holy things?