Jim Wallis should take it back, and other thoughts on Christians and the Mosque

As Christians, should our response to the mosque controversy be different than others? As I’ve written, I believe the Muslims seeking to build the mosque should demonstrate American instincts by building it down the road. That aside, how should Christians respond?

Cross in the wreckage of Ground Zero

I certainly believe that in dissent and argument Christians should demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit. Here are some thoughts in this case:

Love (Your Enemies, Your Neighbors): We cannot hate Muslims because of their faith or even because of acts done in the name of Islam. We just can’t. Opposition to the placement of this mosque doesn’t mean we hate the individuals seeking the mosque or supporting it. Love for our neighbor does not mean we have to support everything they want to do. We’ve been down that road in other arguments.

Blessed are the Peacemakers: We do need to be peacemakers. But part of keeping the peace is to avoid provocation. While the mosque shouldn’t be built in a grieving area, Christians also should not be burning Korans and putting up signs about Islam being of the devil.

Kindness: Don’t portray these NYC neighbors worse than they may be. You don’t know them and I don’t either. Christians should not use hurtful language or false characterizations. There is enough ugliness in the media. Tone it down.

Protect the Faith: There are plenty of efforts to restrict the religious liberty of Christians in America. Don’t give those who wish us ill any ammunition to use the next time a Christian church wants to express itself in the public square. I do find it interesting that the liberals who are so vocal about the religious liberty of those who are wanted to build this mosque are rarely seen in the defense of any Christian display, building, or expression.

Jim Wallis Outrage

Did you see the articles or appearances by Sojourners head Jim Wallis on this topic? He wrote that as Christian peacemakers, we should support our Muslim friends in their desire to build a house of worship near Ground Zero.

While I don’t share Wallis’ politics, I share a Savior. But I’m troubled by what he wrote in his column. Not so much his arguments (although I disagree), but by his character assassination of his fellow Christians. He argues that peaceful Muslims should not judged because of the actions of Islamic 9/11 terrorists any more than he, as an evangelical Christian, should be “judged on the basis of fundamentalist Christians — some of whom have said and done terrible things.”

Rev. Wallis, are you really equating the rhetoric of fundamentalist Christians with the actions of terrorists who murdered thousands of people?   

Over the years I have provided communications and public relations counsel and services to many Christian leaders (still do), both fundamentalists and (although not Wallis) evangelical liberals. I find this statement by Wallis as abhorrent as I did Jerry Falwell’s ill-timed assertion that Americans brought the 9/11 attacks upon themselves because of their sins.

Wallis should retract this statement. And I’ll hear him out on the mosque issue and on reconciliation when he completes a Jerry Falwell statue at the Sojourners headquarters. To paraphrase Wallis: “What does it mean to love our enemies as Jesus instructed us? Wasn’t Jerry Falwell your brother and your neighbor?“

Jim Wallis of Sojourners

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About Jim Jewell

I am a writer and consultant on faith and public life, active for many years in management and communications in the evangelical community. I now work as the director of the nonprofit practice at The Valcort Group (www.valcort.com). Everything on this blog, however, is my personal opinion and is not read or approved before it is posted. Opinions, conclusions and other information expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of Valcort.
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