Sunday, June 20, 2010


What can we do about religious violence and hatred? What can we do about clergy and laity who insist on spreading lies, hatred, and fear? These are not academic questions. Especially in my town. Especially this week.

There has been an Islamic Center in Murfreesboro, TN for years. It was small, and stayed pretty much under the radar. Now things are different. The Center wants to build a 52,000 square foot community center and mosque. The county commission said yes, the people say no. Not all the people, of course. May be not even most of the people. But enough to make me fear not only for the welfare of my Muslim neighbors, and for any who support them and their right to freedom of religion.

The position of my Christian neighbors is simple: Muslims support Sharia (Islamic law), Sharia is globalist, Muslims want to rule the world, and the center in Murfreesboro will be a training camp for terrorists bent on turning Middle Tennessee into a Taliban stronghold like Afghanistan without the trillion dollars worth of minerals.

Let’s not be na├»ve. There are Muslims who wish to spread Islam around the world just as there are Christians who wish to spread Christianity around the world. Christianity and Islam are the only religions bent on global domination, and both have a long history of using warfare to do so. It isn’t surprising that these two faiths have been and continue to be at odds, and often at war. It may not be politically correct to say so, but without Christianity and Islam we wouldn’t be fighting in Iraq, Afghanistan, and (coming soon to a theater of war near you) Iran. You can argue that these wars are not religious, but remove religion from the equation and the wars cease to be fought at all.

So I understand why so many of my neighbors believe we are at war with Islam and that all Muslims are suspect. But what shall we do about it?

There are the obvious suggestions: The mosque could open its doors for “Learn About Islam” evenings. They did that. I could teach a multi-week class on Islam. I did that. Christian churches could invite Muslims to speak to their members about Islam. Some have done that. Education is necessary but clearly not sufficient.

So, when asked by the local newspaper for a suggestion I offered this: We should all begin attending each other’s worship services. Just go and sit and listen to what is being preached. And if and when they hear hate-preach, fear mongering, and calls for action that violate the Constitution or suggest violence, they should loudly stand up, denounce it in the Name of Whatever God they are praying to, and walk out. I urged the newspaper reporter to go to religious services throughout the city and report on what is being preached. Expose hate-preach if there is any. And if there isn’t any, tell us that as well.

The reporter declined. So that leaves matters in your hands. Visit churches, synagogues, and mosques regularly and listen carefully to what is being read, taught, and preached. Take a stand against evil when you find it, and let people know if you don’t. It is the least we can do.


Luke said...

I think that people of other religions would have more belief in the existence of a moderate Islamic culture if our media showed more Muslim's protesting and vocalizing against radical forms of Islam that are so prevalent in most of the media shown today. I know there are moderate Muslim’s who are respectful of other beliefs, but airtime of these people are a rarity compared to the amount of blood thirsty Jihad warriors we get to hear about. Why don’t we see thousands marching in the streets over the treatment of Muslim women in countries where Sharia law is practiced who are stoned to death? Instead, what I hear about is thousands marching in anger and threatening violence over another image of Muhammad being shown on Television. Where are the moderate Muslims and where is their voice? If they are talking they need to turn up the volume.

andrea perez said...

Why do Moslems have to be vocal in the media in the United States? There are Hindi temples, Jewish Renewal groups, Baptist churches in strip malls and Pagans meeting at UU churches: who is denying us permits to have our own religious institutions. It's just plan wrong here in the US. Why should the Islamic community in the US represent what is happening thousands of miles across the ocean. And just like Us don't they have different versions of their communities. Hell, I'd hate for the world to think I was one of those ultra orthodox Jewish groups in Israel that is denying entry of Sephardic girls into Ashkenazi girls schools...Separate but equal?
Amen Rabbi Rami!
Out of curiousity I go to an occasional Christian or Hindi service. For a time there was a group called JAM(Jews and Moslems together) and I went to several services...Didn't here any hate speech. Just a different perspective on how to celebrate life.
I've heard more hate filled junk on Sunday mornings pray-a-thons...
We just have to get off our butts and start hearing each other!

Eruesso said...

I've always wanted to go to the Islamic Center in Murfreesboro but never got around to it. There are a couple mosques here in Chattanooga along with a Bahai Center and a Hindu Temple I've been itching to see.

kat said...

Ramadhan is comming up---I understand many mosques in the U.S. invite people to share iftar dinners.....would be a good time for dialogue....?

kat said...

"It may not be politically correct to say so, but without Christianity and Islam we wouldn’t be fighting in Iraq, Afghanistan, and (coming soon to a theater of war near you) Iran. You can argue that these wars are not religious, but remove religion from the equation and the wars cease to be fought at all."

That is a naive perspective. You might want to brush up on history.
Religion/ideology is merely a tool used to cover up geopolitical motives. For example, the narrative that the U.S. was "bringing" democracy to Iraq when its intention was actually control of oil. Think about it--- Which narrative would have motivated U.S. citizens to support war?---the one that says they are doing something "good" by bringing democracy and freedom to an oppressed people---or one that says, "our oil is in their sand"---so we are going to get it--- As some have pointed out already---North Korea has Nuclear weapons---there is no talk of going to war with it--why? because it has no oil!!!!---but Iran does---it also has natural gas...

If you want to know about terrorism---read Robert Papes book "Dying to win-- the strategic logic of suicide terrorism." At least it is based on facts---not myths.

Barry said...

As a partner in a same-gender marriage, and thus the object of religious hatred, at least in a general way, I don't want to visit a church, mosque or synagogue where my spouse and I would not be welcome if we were open about our situation.

Even in Reform Judaism, which was kind enough to ordain my spouse as a rabbi, there are many congregations where people would be uncomfortable with us.

No, I don't plan on visiting houses of worship where I will be uncomfortable. And of course the Muslims have a constitutional right to build their mosque. Why is their hatred any worse than what we hear from many so-called Christians and, unfortunately, more than a few Jews?

Barry said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tiffany said...

I'm in Catalonia.

Lately there has been a lot of talk about the burka in the media, and some people are even suggesting that women won't be allowed to wear it as it increases fear for 'normal' people on the street...

These are crazy days. But I'm all for standing up against hate-preach. Thanks Rabbi Rami

Rabbi Rami said...

Thanks for all the comments. Just a note to what Kat had to offer. I understand what you are saying, and used to say the same thing. But we both may be speaking too simplistically. Even the idea of bringing the good news of democracy to the lost souls of the world smacks of evangelizing. So I get that ideology can be used to mask pure power grabbing, but the history of Christianity and Islam is one of power grabbing in the name of God. Do you really think the Pope didn't believe God wanted him to lead the Crusade to take back the holy land from the Muslims? I suspect that monotheistic religions are innately exclusivist and competitive and violent not as a mask to something else, but at the very heart of their ideologies.