Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Religious freedom, or lack thereof

Each day I read about the Park51 in the news. And each day I become more worried. Not because it's being built, but because of the opposition to it.

I have a few comments on the subject:

1) There's another mosque nearby. Why aren't people complaining about that one? Why are they picking on this one?
2) Not all Muslims are terrorists. The terrorists just get all the attention because they are noisy and get noticed, unlike the well behaved Muslims, who by the way far outnumber the terrorists.
3) Why should we judge all Muslims by the actions of a few? If that's the new policy, then why don't we judge all Christians by the few who torture and murder people accused of witchcraft? And don't tell me that witch hunts are a thing of the past, because they do still happen in some parts of the world. (And it is an unfortunate fact that some Pagans do judge all Christians by the witch hunters.)
4) I'm pretty sure that the mosque will be part of a multi-faith center. Aren't multi-faith centers good? Shouldn't we want more of them around?
5) The fuss about the Park51 endangers the religious freedom of everyone in the United States of America.

Yep, you read that correctly: our freedom is being endangered. Because if Muslims are told that they can't build a mosque in a particular location because they are being insensitive to the feelings of others, who's to say that that argument won't be used again in another place? And what if, *deep breath*, that argument is used by numerous people in numerous locations, so that it is difficult to find a place to build? And I'm not just talking about discrimination against Muslims anymore. Because if people discriminate against Muslims, they can discriminate against others.

But first, since the issue at hand is a mosque, I would like to share evidence that the anger about Park51 is being directed at Muslims in general, not just those who are building a mosque near Ground Zero.

(And OMG I just discovered that my spell checker does not like Quran! This is infuriating...it's irritating enough when it doesn't like Pagan words...but at least we're a minority, not a major religion...grr...)

2) Last week a Taxi cab driver in NYC was asked "Are you Muslim?" After answering yes, the cab driver was attacked with a knife.
3) On Saturday there was a fire at a location in Tennessee where there were plans to build a mosque (the second one in the area). The case is still under investigation, but arson is suspected. Additionally, some of the locals are concerned that "people will learn jihad inside the mosque's walls."

Evidence #1 is to take place in less than two weeks. Evidence #2 and #3 both took place within the last week. I think this is proof enough that the religion of Islam is being attacked.

So, we have a religion under attack in a country that is all about religious freedom. Do you see something wrong with this picture?

I long for the day when we have true religious freedom. That will be when people can practice their faith without fear of being attacked (either with words or physically) for their beliefs. And I would like to remind you, again, that a threat to one person's religious freedom is a threat to everyone's religious freedom.

....I hope I've written this all out in a way that makes sense. I'm tired and I have a headache. I think I'll write more on this subject another time, and if there's anything confusing I've written here I can clarify it. Last but not least, I'd like to share an essay that Ed Hubbarb wrote about why the Park51 debate should matter to people belonging to minority religions. Specifically he focuses on Pagans since he's a Pagan himself, but I think it's relevant to everyone.

1 comment:

Debra She Who Seeks said...

You're absolutely right, Sarita. If only more people could approach this issue in such a thoughtful way.