A Persecuted Church and the Ground Zero Mosque

I was speaking in a small church in a small town in rural Georgia a number of years ago. The pastor and his wife along with their beautiful family were an incredible example of God’s holy love to the struggling congregation. He was and is an educated man. She was just as well-educated. They are the kind of people who are a tribute to any community. Except that they believed that the Holy Spirit gave people an ability to pray in a language they do not understand. Their small church shared that belief.

This godly couple reached out to severely marginalized young people in their community. Young people that were mocked because of their learning disabilities. Which coincidentally were more environmental than heritage. The only problem was the heritage of racism and lack of tolerance for people who worshipped differently than the rest of the community.

The times I had the opportunity to worship with them, service was always inspiring and things were done orderly and with a sweetness. I talked to people who parked their cars so other people in the community could not see their car. If it was discovered that they were going to “that church” their business would be boycotted.

Some of those “kids” came to youth camps that my wife and I led. They were terrific. They were respectful. They were grateful. One of them believed God was calling him to be a pastor like his white pastor. He came from poverty. God provided! He received a full scholarship and went on the seminary and into the ministry! Nothing is impossible with God.

The young pastor and his family eventually moved on to another field of labor where they serve productively.

Which brings me to my point for tonight. Let’s don’t mess with the first amendment!

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

This amendment protected the right of the pastor and his wife their congregation. It didn’t shield them from ignorance, racism and religious bigotry. However, God shielded them and gave them a fruitful ministry! I’ve never preached in a pulpit with more joy and gratitude as I felt in that little church.

There’s a lot of controversy over the so called Ground Zero mosque. So I want to weigh in with my thoughts tonight. Actually, I’ve wanted to all week but this is the first moment I have had to sit down and write. I’ve read pros and cons from both sides. Inevitably I’ve heard the talk on television, radio and even in some of the calls I’ve made this week as a pastor. Here goes!

This is a country with first amendment rights of freedom of worship! If the imam wants to build a mosque, let him build a mosque. It is a roguish choice to build the mosque next to ground zero, before a proper memorial to the victims of terrorists is built. Terrorists who committed their evil in the name of Islam.

I’m sure that some evil people who do not understand the source of our political freedoms or have never tasted those freedoms will see the construction of a mosque at Ground Zero as a triumph of Islam over the United States.

But it is the price of the freedom we enjoy to worship freely.

If a congregation wants to plant and build a church and the community doesn’t like it because people “speak in tongues” or the people pray to “Mary” they are free to do so. The freedom for them to worship is the same freedom for me to worship where I do, without the medieval fear of a cleric burning me at the stake. Its the freedom I have to worship at a church that a Hitler would not approve of without the fear of prison and death like the confessing church experienced with the Nazis. This is the United States of America.

Their not building churches or synagogues in Saudi Arabia. A few years ago the mullahs murdered the General Superintendent of the Assemblies of God in Iran. I recently met with a Christian from an unnamed Muslim nation who can’t speak openly of his faith for fear of his family’s lives as well as his own.

God bless America!

Let everyone understand however that this freedom came because of the the Judeo-Christian heritage of this nation. It wasn’t because of Islam, Hinduism, or humanism. And it sure wasn’t a Democrat or a Republican.

President Bush always reminded us that we were not at war with Islam. Let’s not blow it by acting like we are. We are at war as a nation against those who plan, plot and promote violence against the United States.

As followers of Jesus Christ we are at war with evil and Christ showed us how to fight this fight of faith. Where there is hunger lets feed them, where there is sickness lets heal them, where there is blindness lets bring light. Let’s then tell the wonderful story of God’s Amazing Grace in Christ! He promises that He will be with us as we do and wonderful signs and wonders will follow that message!

As a passionate follower of Christ, our weapons are not carnal, but spiritual and mighty to pull down strongholds.

Who’s praying for the Muslims? Prayers with groaning that can hardly be uttered because the Holy Spirit is praying through us!

Who’s serving in the name of Christ without fear of being perceived as weak? Meekness is strength under control.

Who’s sharing the good news of Jesus with their Muslim friend, allowing the the opportunity to hear and consider who Christ says He is? And still loving him/her if they decide to not confess Christ as Lord of all.

Who’s modeling the Jesus style life to their Muslim friends? A life of love, compassion, gentleness and purity that is evident to all.

I promise you this lifestyle will be far more effective than some of the flamboyant rhetoric by politicians and commentators on either side of the issue, pro or con!

Where were those politicians during some of the most intense times of need in days gone past? I agree with David Kuo in his sad book, Tempting Faith, politicians need compassion and religion as “political cover” and “political tools.”

In summary, I don’t think it is a good choice, but it is the strength of our first amendment. Let’s be Christians, let’s be passionate followers of Christ! With Him as our model, we will stay true to the mission of reaching lost people to the glory of God and not railing against the Caesars, the Greeks, or the sons of Esau. However we might have a problem with the Pharisees and Sadducees!

What are your thoughts? Do you have any suggestions? I would like to hear your comments as well.

Peace and Joy from Detroit!

10 thoughts on “A Persecuted Church and the Ground Zero Mosque

  1. I couldn’t agree with you more. I would have been very disappointed to hear anything other than what is real and true. I am sure it will be difficult for many to accept. Thanks for sharing. andre

  2. A wonderful point that so many others have looked over. Freedom of religion in our country is for all religions, not just the one that a particular politician decrees as the faith of the month! Yes I do understand how many people are upset by this choice of location. It may show poor character judgment to locate a mosque there while so much of the population still equates all of Islam with extremist fundamentalists, but remember also that every religion has it’s own extremists, including Christianity. However, poor judgment is not illegal and should have no place being blocked by the government. The better solution would be rather than taking up a legal battle to approach it for what it really is, a spiritual battle. The developers of the mosque are stating the main reason for building there is to be able to reach the community to share their message of faith. Well then the best response would be to share faith! For those who are followers of Christ in this immediate area, and there are many fine churches there, this will be an onslaught of people looking openly to discussions of faith! What an opportunity for Jesus! Do I believe that every person from the mosque who is exposed to Jesus will convert, absolutely not. But think of the celebration in Heaven for those who do, and the growth of the other local churches filling with new believers eager to learn more about the true God of salvation. So what then of us believers who are nowhere near the area? Where can God not reach? That’s right fill those working the fields with the Holy Spirit through your prayers. I know that God will answer my prayers here to help those who are witnessing in NY, join with me and pray daily for the Holy Spirit to fill those who are witnessing to all who are seeking to openly discuss faith in downtown Manhattan!

  3. Thanks Andre. There is a conversation taking place, that can be very beneficial for all of us. Thanks for taking time to leave a comment. Blessings!

  4. Whoa! No way can I support this mosque being built there just like I wouldn’t support the Nazi’s building a shrine next to a Holocaust Musuem. This is in no way a constitutional issue. Government can not stop you from practicing your religion (1st Amendment) but can, and does everyday, limit where you can locate a church/mosque etc through local zoning laws. Christian churches are denied zoning permits all across this country. Currently there are over 100 mosques in NY for muslims to practice their religion. I would hardly call that restricting freedom of religion. I know Bush said we are not at war with a religion, and we might not be, but like it or not there is a religion that is at war with christians. They are called to kill the infidels and on 9/11 they succeded. Currently we’re winning on the traditional battlefields of war (Iraq and Afghanistan) but I would argue that christians are losing the culutural war. At the current rate of growth Islam will encompass most of the world in the next 15-20 years. They will succeed at taking over countries without having to ever fire a shot just through growth in population.
    Thanks for posting this and sharing your thoughts Pastor. I love that you’re not afraid to engage in the ongoing political discussions our country is having.

  5. I think it’s fine that they build the mosque there – so long as everyone is clear about the fact that all it really mounts to is their version of spiking the ball in the end zone after a score. Where non-Muslims see a mosque, Muslims will see an embassy at Ground Zero. The imam that plans to run the place hates America and what it stands for, but is more than willing to use its laws to advance his position. America is the way it is because of Christianity not despite it.

    I think it safe to say that much of the emotion that comes from this debate is being driven by the rank hypocrisy that is being practiced by our government “leaders.” A small, but active and historical church, was destroyed by debris from the WTC and an effort was immediately launched to rebuild it that has been blocked at every turn since that time, but a mosque that will be led by an America hating imam – oh that’s special – not only should that get fast-tracked, but the American tax-payer should also pick up the tab for his fundraising trip when everyone already knows that the money is already in place to come from…questionable…sources to have it built.

  6. Must disagree. President Bush was and is wrong. We are at war with Islam, both spiritually and politically. Most of us just don’t know it yet.

  7. This blog is very thought provoking, however, I still believe that a Mosque at Ground Zero is a slap in the face to every American no matter the religion. If the Muslim community was truly void of malevolent intent in their proposal, then I would think that they would respect and honor the views of the people that were affected by 911 and thus not propose Ground Zero as the location in the first place. I tried to understand your viewpoint Pastor. Although you made several good points I cannot bring myself to agree with that position. Thank you for being so honest in the content of your blogs. I truly enjoy reading them and the commentary from fellow Christians.

  8. Recently, while visiting the local coffee shop, a very heated debate was going on between several customers about the m0sque. The conversation was as varied as the individuals around the table. Though each had strong emotional opinions the point of religious freedom was ignored. I resisted the urge to interupt the conversation with my opinions , instead of being fact driven the conversation was emotion driven. The very fact that these individuals were able to have such a lively discussion in the public market place was because of our Constitutional freedoms. Those freedoms whether they are of speech, religion, or others also belong to those Americans who share views that are not my own. One of the individuals involved in the coffee shop dialog made the statement about religion, “That is why there is a Baptist church on every corner.” I wanted to say, “No, that is why there is a Baptist Church, A Catholic Church and Mosque on the corner.” Let us not stifle religious freedoms lest we place a muzzle on our own lips.

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