Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Why I Celebrate Having a Mosque in St. Joseph

Today, I read gladly the article in the St. Joseph News-Press regarding the plans of local Muslims to build a mosque here in St. Joseph. I think this is great news. It was a really wonderful experience for me to interact with Muslims where I served on Long Island and I've really missed the religious diversity that I knew there. I realize St. Joseph is not New York, but I do think the more diverse of a religious community we have here in our town the better off all of us are. I've become a better Christian through getting to know people of different faiths.

Here's the comment I left on the News-Press web site expressing my point a view--in contrast to some of the rather negative comments left by others. (Although I was pleased to see some of the positive comments stressing inclusion and welcome.)

As a Christian and a minister of a church here in town, I would like to celebrate the Islamic community of St. Joseph and their plans to build a mosque. I think it's great. My experiences with Muslims in other communities have been really fruitful in terms of dialogue and building mutual respect and understanding. My hope is that here in St. Joseph--here in our little part of the world--Christians and Muslims and believers of other faiths can demonstrate not just tolerance of one another but real love and respect. I believe that the more each of us regardless of our faith learns of different beliefs the more we all grow and learn. My experiences with Muslims in the past have helped me not only to understand an often misunderstood religion here in America but also they have helped me to understand more deeply what I cherish about my own faith as a Christian. I celebrate having a mosque here in St. Joe.

Grace and Peace,

Chase

1 comment:

lneely said...

There's a remarkable amount of bile and garbage in the comments on that article. It's almost like an all new Cold War; simply substitute "Muslim" in for "Commie." It's also a stark reminder that St. Joseph has a long way to go before it reaches social enlightenment.

As for me, I think it's a matter of privilege versus equality. Christianity should have no social privileges above any other religion. If Christians can build their churches -- in overwhelming numbers, even -- then the Muslims ought to be able to build a mosque as well. Out of principle, I have to support the mosque's construction.

Either way, St. Joseph could certainly stand to be more pluralistic.