Blasphemy in the Name of Tolerance

They go together like chocolate and peanut butter.

February 21, 2011

Remember that Jesus taught us to shun the non-believers and turn a blind eye to their plight.

Or something like that. It seems a church in Alexandria, Virginia has opened its doors to local Muslims who need a place to gather and pray. This act of charity, two religions working together, is apparently too much for Fox News, and Mike Huckabee was quite vocal in his disgust to this arrangement between Christians and Muslims.

Got all that? How dare these Christians lend their church, a building dedicated to God, to the “antithesis” of Christianity? Islam is, after all, a religion that calls unbelievers “infidels” and stands for everything Christianity does not believe in.

Of course, anyone who has even a cursory understand of both faiths knows that they are much more similar than many conservatives, on both sides, would like to admit.

There are the major differences, of course. Islam proclaims Muhammad as God’s prophet and Christians believe Jesus was the Messiah and God’s son on Earth. Obviously, that’s going to be a big difference. Both religions have wackos hell-bent on genocide and death. Both sides have moderates who are people who wish to practice their faith in peace.

A lot of the complaints on the message boards stem from one major gripe: Would a mosque open its doors to Jews or Christians? Would Saudi Arabia open its doors to a Christian church and allow worship at Mecca?

hideaway of mecca by ~rvidys on deviantART

Uhm, no. Saudi Arabia would very likely not allow Christian worship at Mecca… but that’s the point, isn’t it? Let’s say you’re a Christian. I’d like for you to point to the section in the Bible that instructs you to only show compassion and charity to someone who has done something for you. If you think that perhaps the commands to help those who need help are outdated or do not apply in this case, let me ask you something else.

Have we let Muslims built mosques in our country without accusing them of trying to spread terrorism? The Park51 project comes to mind, as do other instances where we’ve denied Muslims the chance to build their places of worship in peace. So I ask you again…

Have we let Muslims build their houses of worship in America?

The answer, I’m sure is obvious, is yes we have, but the Islamaphobia that’s spread over the country can have very negative effects. If a church wishes to open its doors and allow Muslims to pray, is that not the individual church’s choice? Is that not a way to show support for our brothers and sisters? If the members of the church are fine with their building being loaned in this manner, is that not the congregation’s call?

Church Tower by ~WhisperInTheDark666 on deviantART

Huckabee went on and on about how a building constructed to worship in one faith cannot be used by people of other faiths. That’s funny because I’m pretty sure there are non-denominational churches. Chapels in hospitals and other places welcome people of all faiths, too.

“But Entropy Echo,” I can hear you say, “that’s not the same! Those are places for Christians, not for people of other religions!”

How many Catholics do you think would welcome Protestants to worship in a Catholic church? How many Mormons would welcome Methodists into their sanctuaries? Even within Christianity, there are schisms, so it’s easy to see why letting Muslims use a Christian church for their worship services sounds so outlandish.

But I repeat, what is the harm? Are the Christian members of the congregation any less Christian? A church is a private building, and if those who own and maintain it, along with the congregation wish to lend it for another use, what’s the harm? Huckabee made a slippery slope comparison that people might start lending churches for things like pornography viewings (he made it clear he wasn’t trying to compare Islam to porn, although I’m curious as to why he thinks both are so equally outlandish).

Pray Away Porn by ~AsaGreen on deviantART

Oh, and one more thing about Huckabee’s rant.

He says that if a congregation needs a place to worship, they can rent a room at a hotel or something similar. That implies that it is the people who use the space, not the space itself, that is important. He even says so himself, then backtracks when he claims that the building is already dedicated so it cannot house any other kind of worship.

It’s a building, people. Though not in the apocrypha, the Gospel of Saint Thomas contains some interesting sayings attributed to Jesus, and some of the more humanistic takes on religion I’ve ever seen from Christianity.

Verse 14: [W]hat goes into your mouth will not defile you; rather, it’s what comes out of your mouth that will defile you.”

Verse 77: Jesus said, “I am the light that is over all things. I am all: from me all came forth, and to me all attained.
Split a piece of wood; I am there.
Lift up the stone, and you will find me there.”

If the building is just that, a building, and the important thing is the character of the people who go there, then it does nothing to allow Muslims to pray in a Christian church. Instead, it builds community and fellowship between two religions. It opens up the possibility for an exchange of ideas and helps heal the rifts being created by bigotry.

But I guess that’s too much to ask for when it comes to religious tolerance. After all, Jesus only helped those who already did things for him, right?

SOAR by ~UinBoss on deviantART

And now for some feel-good links.

  • Some people would like to build a statue to Robocop, Detroit’s most famous cyborg, but the city is a little iffy about the idea.
  • And finally, it seems even superheroes need a little help finding that special someone. Check out this video for Super Harmony, the only dating service that caters to today’s modern superhero. Take care, and I’ll see you all Wednesday

6 Replies to “Blasphemy in the Name of Tolerance”

  1. I have more than a cursory understanding of both faiths. You are wrong and the christian churches are wrong.
    The only thing these 2 faiths have in common is a belief in something that can’t be proved. That is why they are called “faiths” or “beliefs”.

    The Christian Bible tells them to shun those that have been informed and refuse to believe.

    The muslim bible tells them to kill those that refuse to bow down to islam.

    NO, there is no real common ground.

    1. Let’s assume for a moment that both religions are utterly false. There is no divine creator, the Prophet was hallucinating, and Jesus was a hippie. The people who follow these religions still believe, and both faiths have served as the justification for atrocities and have billions of followers. Both, however, are founded upon the teachings of Abraham, both believe religion is central to the community, and both share a belief in helping the needy.

      It’s encouraging that the people of both these congregations can see past the propaganda and, quite frankly, warmongering in their respective holy books. Yes, both the Bible and Quran instruct their followers to shun or, in some cases, kill unbelievers. These people, though, have decided to focus instead on the parts of their religion that instruct them to reach out to their neighbors, to help those in need.

      While I would prefer a world where morality was not dictated by centuries-old texts, it’s encouraging to see progress towards a more humanist perspective. The Christians and Muslims in Alexandria found common ground to work together, to be each other’s neighbors. Frankly, to say that these two religions have no common ground is a gross simplification.

  2. Hello.
    I have one guestion:
    Why my picture is in this article?
    Picture ——> Church Tower

    Why I do not know about it?

    1. I used the embed code from the picture since I figured that, by including it in the deviation, you gave permission to use it since the code also credits the artist and links back to the original image. I’m backlogged at least five months in sending messages to the Deviants whose work I used, but if you’d prefer I not use the image, I can take it down at once.

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