This isn’t a political blog.
I’m interested in politics, and read articles representing different viewpoints at realclearpolitics every day. I just don’t write about them. I won’t be endorsing political candidates any time soon.
But I do write about the so-called culture wars. I’ve written about abortion, for example. With the exception of politics generally, I write about faith and culture, where ever it intersects. And right now it is intersecting on a piece of real estate a couple of blocks away from ground zero, the site of the former Twins Towers.
A Muslim group is building a mosque, or a community center as they prefer to call it, and politicians of every stripe have weighed in on the controversy. Palin and Gingrich have joined the chorus of those who say it is insensitive and unacceptable.
Yesterday, however, at a dinner celebrating Ramadan at the White House, President Obama said that he supported the mosque:
As a citizen, and as president, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as anyone else in this country. That includes the right to build a place of and a community center on private property in lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances. This is America, and our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakable.
I agree with him.
As Thomas Jefferson, who the president quoted, once said,” “all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion.”
Now personally I’m not too keen on the president celebrating Ramadan in the first place. And I wish the Cordoba Initiative would build their mosque somewhere else. The truth is I don’t agree with the president very often.
But we don’t get to rest in the freedom of religion provided us by the First Amendment if we don’t extend that grace to others. And the same thing goes for freedom of speech.
One of the key groups that lobbied for the First Amendment in the first place was Baptist pastors in Virginia who had been jailed as non-conformist. I think they would agree with me.
So would Pastor Martin Niemöller, the German pastor who pointed out that when the Nazis came for the Jews he didn’t speak out because he wasn’t a Jew, but by the time they came for him there was no one to speak for him either.
So I’m speaking for the Muslims here, even though I disagree with them. And for the Baptists too.
They both have the right to practice their faith as freely as possible.
Even when they’re not right.
Here is an alternate view, by Abraham H. Foxman, National Director of the Anti-Defamation League. He says the right to do something doesn’t not make it the right thing to do.