Shuck and Jive

Opinions expressed here are my own and do not represent the views of the congregation I joyfully serve. But my congregation loves me!

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Is It Fair to Deny Baptists a Place to Worship Freely?

This one was hair-raising. The Johnson City Press recently polled its readers by asking:

Is it fair to deny Muslims a place to worship freely?

What a stupid question. Here is a better one:

Is it fair to deny the Johnson City Press its opinion?

I don't know what the intent of the JC Press was with that doozie, but it did serve to bring out the crazies.

Here are the results of the poll:


The constitution provides an answer to this question.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
— The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution
The reason the constitution says what it says is because human beings are ignorant, bigoted, and fearful. They don't understand the simple logic that what you do to others can come back and bite you in the behind.

Thankfully, the constitution was not written by the 31% of JC Press readers who answered the poll question by saying, "Yes."

It was written to protect society
from them.

Today's Letter to the Editor section provided some responses. Glad to see a letter from my friend, Taneem Aziz, of the Muslim Community of Northeast Tennessee:

I was surprised to see at least two mentions about Muslims in your paper in the last 10 days.

One was the cartoon that you chose to publish in the “Insight” section of July 18. The cartoon saying Muslims are from another planet was certainly lacking insight.

The second was the “Question of the week” on July 26 asking: “Is it fair to deny Muslims a place to worship freely?”

Why is that even a question? Obviously there are reasons. A poll by the Gallup Center for Muslim Studies revealed 53 percent of Americans view Islam unfavorably compared with 42 percent who view the religion favorably.

Fear is a great motivator. False fears lead to negative motivations. We, as Muslim Americans, cherish our American values. Sure, it has an Islamic flavor, but that can be said of any religious or ethnic group.

False fear mongers abound today, instigating a certain faction of the population to hate without knowing the facts. We are fed our daily dose of “news,” or should I say “noise” about Muslims from all sorts of media/propaganda outlets. How many of your readers have had the opportunity to talk to a Muslim about Islam? After an intellectual understanding and discussion of Islam they may have another point of view.

It is with this in mind I invite your readers to come to our congregational prayers at the Islamic Center at 3010 Antioch Road in Johnson City. It is held from 1:30 p.m. to 2:15 p.m. on Fridays. After the prayer we will listen to your comments, and be happy to answer any questions. Our facility has been open to the community and many in the non-Muslim community have visited with us. TANEEM AZIZ

Thank you, Taneem.