The “Ground Zero Mosque” and Mormons

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…

-Amendment I, United States Constitution

Earlier in 2010, we learned that imam Feisal Abdul Rauf had proposed a Muslim community center two blocks from the World Trade Center. Within it, among many other facilities, would be a mosque. Its name is Park51, though it has been called the “Ground Zero Mosque”, primarily by its opponents.

It has raised the question, “Should Muslims be allowed to build a mosque near Ground Zero?”

I don’t care much for that question. It supposes a power that the majority has over the minority, despite protections in the Constitution. Is the question asking “Should we repeal the 1st Amendment?” Because unless you do that, what legal action can a city take against a religion?

And as a Latter-day Saint, I can’t help but take the imam’s side on this issue. How many of our proposals for temples have been fought by protestors? We sincerely believe we are out to save the world, one soul at a time, yet the misinformed and the malicious gather to fight our efforts. (If you are against the mosque, have you informed yourself? Have you read what Park51 is about? Here, I’ll link to it again.)

It’s difficult to discuss this topic without it degrading into an argument about the merits and problems with Islam. Suffice it to say, as Latter-day Saints, we don’t believe that Islam has all the truth.

But that doesn’t matter. Our 11th Article of Faith reads, “We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.”(italics added)

Can our stance be made any more clear than that? Though we may disagree, we will defend your freedom. We will fight by your side against the tyrants who would deprive both you and I of our liberty.

And we have in the past. In the premortal existence, when Lucifer plotted to take away man’s agency, we sided with our Savior. We fought for our freedom to choose, even though that meant some souls would not return to our Father in Heaven. That’s the value we placed on freedom.

Some have accepted that Muslims have every right to build a mosque near Ground Zero, but still don’t think they should do it. After all, people who lost loved ones on 9/11 may take offense at an Islamic place of worship so close to that site. That was my initial reaction, too: hey, it’s a free country, but, um, are you trying to pick a fight?

But now that I’ve taken a closer look at the Park51 website, specifically the FAQ, I’m in favor of their chosen location. That’s where there’s more room for discussion. But as for the question of allowing Muslims to build a mosque… well, there should be no question.

If you disagree, I have to ask: Do you love Muslims?

Say you learn that somebody you’re about to meet is Muslim. Do you feel like you dislike them already? That you might like them, but they’ll have to work a little harder to earn your friendship?

If so, is that charity? I don’t think so.

We’ve been commanded to love our neighbors. Love them as ourselves. And even if you consider Muslims to be your enemy, please remember, you’ve been commanded to love your enemies, too.

Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you. Matthew 5:44

Of course, now that I think about it, that commandment goes beyond just loving perceived enemies – it includes those who are training at this moment to carry out terrorist attacks. And I realize I haven’t prayed for them, that their hearts might be softened, that they might see the error of their ways.

Time to live my beliefs a little better.

What I Mean By “Moderate”

moderate adjective. Kept or keeping within reasonable or proper limits; not extreme, excessive, or intense.

Some people who read what I plan to say here will argue that I’m not moderate.

M’okay. But I’m fairly confident people on both sides of the political spectrum will make that argument, so in the end, it probably all averages out.

I’m referring, in the site’s title, to being moderate in the political spectrum, not in my observance of my religion. The former is admirable in my mind; the latter is a grave mistake. Elder Dallin H. Oaks said it best:

The idea that our strengths can become our weaknesses could be understood to imply that we should have “moderation in all things.” But the Savior said that if we are “lukewarm,” he “will spew [us] out of [his] mouth” (Rev. 3:16). Moderation in all things is not a virtue, because it would seem to justify moderation in commitment. That is not moderation, but indifference. That kind of moderation runs counter to the divine commands to serve with all of our “heart, might, mind and strength” (D&C 4:2), to “seek … earnestly the riches of eternity” (D&C 68:31), and to be “valiant in the testimony of Jesus” (D&C 76:79). Moderation is not the answer.

So moderation in observance of my religion is not what I’m aspiring to.

In politics, it’s different. I think here being moderate means willingness to vote for candidates outside your own political party. Being willing to acknowledge that at times your party is flat-out wrong. (I doubt most people would agree with every aspect of their party’s platform — but maybe that’s just me.)

My goals here are two-fold:

  1. To show my fellow Latter-day Saints — specifically those who lean farther right than myself — a point of view they might not have considered.
  2. To show others the reasoning behind some of our beliefs and stances, specifically in the political spectrum.

Additionally, I’d like to show folks who agree with my opinions that they’re not alone. I hate feeling like a lone voice in the wilderness — it’s depressing. I’d also like to provide a forum for rational discourse for Latter-day Saints. Politics aren’t what we should be discussing in Sunday School or over the pulpit.

But mostly, perhaps, I just need to vent. I have other blogs, but those are almost solely dedicated to entertaining, and I don’t want to confuse serious issues with funny videos of robots falling over.