Yesterday, I read an article in USA Today about a Christian leader who removed his name from a group that supports the rights of Muslims to build mosques in their communities.
The article went on to explain that the person was responding to those who felt that the Interfaith Coalition on Mosques crossed the line from defending religious freedom to promoting Islam.
The leader in question is quoted as saying to the Associated Press, “”I don’t agree with that perception but it’s widespread and I have to respect it.”
Reading the article left me with a number of questions and the awareness that I don’t know enough to have a strong opinion about whether the group really had crossed the line between defending religious liberty and actually promoting another religion. The man who was pressured to the point of removing his name made it clear that he had no intent of promoting the other faith.
Reminds me of the often quoted statement, “I don’t agree with what you’re saying, but I’d die for your right to say it.”
Seems to me that those who believe the Gospel of Christ can be among the first to do unto others as we would have them do unto us. Our history of being a minority people should also tell us something about how to act, now that we are temporarily in the majority.
Violating a foundational principle of Christ to flex the muscle of “group think” or “political pressure” might feel good for the moment. But is it wise? In the end, don’t efforts to protect spiritual interest through political strategies end up creating a backlash that is as counterproductive as trying to ban books or movies that insult the Name we are trying to honor?
Seems to me that if we, as followers of Christ, are rightly seen as unfair, fearfully protective of our faith, or unwilling to extend to others the civil rights we enjoy, we will do far more damage to our reputation than being good neighbors to those who don’t yet bow before the Cross.