Dear Dr. Kinnamon:
If the many Christians who oppose the building of the Cordoba House and Mosque near the WTC-site are like me, they do not appreciate your accusations of bigotry, narrow-mindedness, and ignorance. They may suspect that it is you who are the ignorant one, denying to yourself and to others the actual agenda behind the building of the mosque and the ultimate effect that it is likely to have: it will not be seen as an expression of pluralistic harmony, but as an expression of triumph.
Your story about Salman Hamdani is touching, but his murder by Islamic terrorists does not lend plausibility to the idea that there is a need for a mosque near the site of the WTC. Imagine a world in which the situation was different: suppose that a group of violent and murderous men, calling themselves Christians, had blown up the tomb of Muhammad on Sept, 11, 2001, and that now a group of Christians was proposing to build a very large church building near the hole in the ground where Muhammad’s tomb used to be? I don’t think that noticing that some Christians were killed in the explosion would convince the local Muslims in Medina that such a proposal is a great idea.
The government of Saudi Arabia would not allow such a building to be built – or any house of worship with a Christian cross on its steeple. Facts such as that one melt your optimistic appraisal of Islamic tolerance under the harsh lamp of reality. Before I consider your insulting charge that opposition to the construction of a mosque near the site of the WTC is fostered by “narrow-minded intolerance” (as if a person becomes intolerant by observing that freedom of religion does not imply a right to build a house of worship anywhere at all), please show me your statements about how the laws of Saudi Arabia are fostered by narrow-minded intolerance.
Jesus Christ our Lord did indeed call us to “Love your neighbor as yourself,” affirming Leviticus 19:18. Somehow I doubt that he expected his disciples to interpret that to mean that if the Romans built a large temple to Zeus near the ruins of an important synagogue that other Romans – a small minority of Romans who misconstrued their orders – had demolished, this would be a great step forward for pluralistic harmony. He would probably perceive that Romans would gloat about it, and Jews would resent it. Similarly in our times, love for our neighbors does not necessarily induce the approval of a large mosque near the WTC-site. It is possible to love Muslims, and to be realistic about the culturally aggressive nature of Islam, and about the high probability that a mosque such as the planned Cordova Mosque near the WTC site will be interpreted by Muslims and non-Muslims as an expression of triumph, and as vindication of the attack, ultimately eroding the tolerance and harmony that you seek to promote.
I completely reject the misguided invitation from the National Council of Churches to support the construction of the Cordoba House and Mosque.
Yours in Christ,
James Snapp, Jr.
Minister, Curtisville Christian Church