…on crashing planes and building basketball courts

In a few weeks, the 9th anniversary of 9/11 will be marked.  On that day, nine years ago, the hijacking of four commercial planes led to the deaths of 3,000 and injuries of over 6,000 people on American soil.  The U.S. economy took a huge hit, the Pentagon took a year to fix, and the area surrounding the former twin towers is rebuilding to this day.

Today, the Cordoba Initiative wants to build an Islamic mosque right next to Ground Zero, without sensitive regard for the victims of 9/11.  At least that’s what Fox News might tell you.  In fact, they are planning on building a $100 million, 13 story Islamic complex.  It will host a 500-seat auditorium, theater, performing arts center, fitness center, swimming pool, basketball court, childcare area, bookstore, culinary school, art studio, food court, September 11th memorial, and prayer space that could accommodate 1,000–2,000 people.  The center will indeed be 600 feet from Ground Zero, but out of sight from Ground Zero.   The objective of the Cordoba Initiative and their proposed building is to bridge peaceful relations between the West and the Islamic community.

While I certainly understand that 9/11 brought a great deal of pain to thousands of families and fear to tens of thousands more I want to say that I support allowing the construction of this building.  While there is certainly political support for such a statement, I would argue solely and succinctly on Christian grounds.

I think it’s unfair to associate all Muslims with the Al-queda terrorists whose ideals are represented by about 0.01% of the total Islamic population.  Yes I meant what I said: 99.9% of all Muslims worldwide condemn any violent actions of terrorists.  If a radical fundamentalist psychotic man set off a bomb in a packed out soccer stadium in Lebanon and then it was discovered that his support for such an attack was based out of the Holy Bible, I would want to do the same thing.  I would build some sort of ministry or church in that area and reach out to the population to bridge a peaceful relationship and display how peaceful and loving Christians actually are.  Jesus said “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”.  So do it!  I don’t think they’re trying to be insensitive or offensive—much less harbor terrorist activities.  As Christians, we are called to be peacemakers  (matt. 5.8).  We are called to forgive those who kill us (luk. 23.34).   We are called to be a “salt and light” for the world (matt. 5.13).  We are called to reach out to the world to bring them to a reconciling relationship to God and His kingdom (2 cor. 5. 16-20).

Regardless of whether you had previously even heard of this media/ political debate, the Cordoba/ Ground Zero situation provides an excellent opportunity to learn a valuable lesson for American Christians: there are some Muslims who crash planes into buildings and some Muslims who build basketball courts.  Above all the other “callings” that I just mentioned, remember this one: we are called to not pass judgment (luk. 6.37).  Don’t stereotype.  I’m not saying Islam is equal with Christianity.  What I am saying is that they’re not all wearing bombs under their clothes, taking flight lessons and oppressing women.  Let’s exalt Jesus Christ by loving Muslims across our country and world.  Let’s meet them where they’re at with no preconceived notions, and then lets pray to engage them in loving, peaceful service and dialogue and bring them to an authentic faith in the loving and intimate God of the Bible.

2 cor. 5.18-20

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