Dear Muslim Friends

by Skip Conover~Copyright 2010 Donald L. Conover~(Twitter: @skip_conover)

Dear Muslim Friends,

I hope this finds you in good spirits, and that you are having a wonderful month of Ramadan.  I am sure you have seen the political controversy that has recently been stirred up by our far right-wing politicos about the proposed Mosque in Manhattan, near the site of the former World Trade Center. [Actually, for New York, the site is not particularly near at all, but you would not know that from the media.]

One of my Muslim friends commented to me this week as follows, with apologies to the anonymous (here) source: “It’s rare to see western people want to defend true Islam or Muslims. Neither [do they] want to understand the true stories.”  I quickly pointed out to this person that our Constitution guarantees Freedom of Religion in its First Amendment (of the Bill of Rights):

“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.”

Every American federal officer and every member of our Armed Forces is sworn to uphold these rights, among all those contained in our Constitution.  Most Americans believe in these rights absolutely, particularly the freedom to practice one’s faith.  My ancestors came to America to escape the 80 Years War (in 1625), in which the Catholic Spanish came to Protestant Holland for 80 summers to force the Dutch to return to Catholicism.  They failed.  Every fall my ancestors would flood Holland, forcing the Spanish back to sunny Spain.  My whole family knows that we are American because of religious war.  This is a common experience among the ancestors of most Americans.   There are 10x as many Irish in the United States as Ireland, in part because of religious war between Protestants and Catholics.  But I digress.

I told my friend that today an Annapolis Pastor would be preaching about the Mosque in Manhattan.  He has allowed me to share his Sermon with you, so that you can all see that Americans are concerned about this matter, and hearing about it in their places of worship.  I presume that this is a topic in many churches in America, as well as in many living rooms.  I believe a majority of us believe strongly that the Muslim congregation of Lower Manhattan has an absolute right to build there Mosque, and as you can see, many of us believe it should be built.  

Some of you do not know that I also produced a television program defending Muslim rights in general, and wrote a book about my experiences in doing so.  I have decided that I should share that work with you, so it is attached.  I hereby grant you permission to share my book with anyone you deem appropriate to see it, and I grant them permission to do the same.  I want every Muslim to believe that there are many in the USA, who will defend their rights, even to death.  And millions of us have sworn to do so!  The Rev. Hathaway has agreed that his Sermon may be shared in the same spirit.

It appears below in his forwarded message.  Feel free to write to Reverend Hathaway about your reaction to his Sermon.  I am sure he will be pleased to hear from you.   If there is ever anything I can do to advance the interests of Muslims, Christians and other religions living in harmony, please feel free to call upon me.

Ramadan Kareem!
  Skip Conover

PS  Any reader of this blog, who would like a free copy of either the book or the Sermon, please write to me.  You can find my e-mail address at: http://www.linkedin.com/in/donaldconover .

Note:  Originally published on August 30, 2010 on another blog.

About Skip Conover

Skip Conover is an International Executive, Author, and Painter.
This entry was posted in 1st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, American Politics, Bible, Christian Fundamentalism, Ethics in Advertising, Ethics in Journalism, Freedom of Speech, Islam & the West, Muslim Opinion of the West, Right Wing, Uncategorized, Western Opinion of Islam. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Dear Muslim Friends

  1. Skip Conover says:

    This is an excerpt of the Rev. Bill Hathaway’s Sermon of August 29, 2010. The entire Sermon can be read here: http://bit.ly/d4HimE Among other things, this excerpt highlights the inconsistencies within the Bible.

    The Mosque Next Door: Christians, Jews, and Muslims Together

    Isaiah 44:25-25:1, Luke 14:1, 7-14

    Bill Hathaway
    First Presbyterian Church of Annapolis
    August 29, 2010 [Excerpt!]

    When Christians face tough issues we begin with the Bible, but the Bible is certainly a complex guide to claim, isn’t it? The Bible, a collection of voices over time, is not always of one mind on a particular issue. Clearly, the Old Testament has two separate strains of thought relative to the foreigner and non-believer. At the time of the Exodus and throughout the many wars that Israel fought to claw out its existence, our ancestors practiced brutal forms of genocide. In those cases they believed that God wanted them to kill off their enemy down to every man, woman, and child. (See Numbers 21:35, Deuteronomy 2:31-34 for examples.) It is a part of the Bible that we often choose to ignore, but has been reclaimed in Christian history, most notably and painfully in the times of crusades.

    Yet, at the same time, the Old Testament has a strong stream of instructions to care for the alien, the widow, and the orphan. Welcoming the outcast and offering hospitality to the weak were viewed as the litmus test of faithfulness, repeated time and time again by the prophets. So we are instructed “You shall not wrong a resident alien. (Exodus 22:21), “You shall love the alien as yourself,” (Leviticus 19:34) and the evil ones are known as those who “trample on the head of the poor…push the afflicted out of the way.” (Amos 2) When Jesus, a good Jew, came along, it is quite clear what track of Old Testament studies he chose to follow. He ate with Samaritans, touched and healed the untouchables and, in stories like the one today from Luke, called upon the faithful to live within postures of humble hospitality. Kindness and justice were the rules of Jesus, even when relating to the “other.”

    You probably noted that I made reference to the Islamic center near the former World Trade Centers, not the Mosque at Ground Zero. The first rule of hospitality is to have your facts straight and call people, places, and things by their correct names. The controversial Muslim gathering place is to be a multi-purpose community center that will include a prayer area located in a former Burlington Coat factory building two blocks from the former World Trade Centers, sponsored by moderate Muslims who have been in the neighborhood for years. It is not a Mosque at Ground Zero built by outsiders. If you’ve read the articles and looked at the map, this neighborhood also includes the New York Dolls Gentlemen’s Club that features nude women dancers…and some folks think that Muslim neighbors swimming, caring for children, and praying is the offensive party. It is an odd perspective, to my way of thinking.

    The other reason why we should support and not protest the development of this Islamic Center is that this is a group of moderate American Muslims. When this all hit the fan a couple of weeks back, I was wondering why there was no live footage or quotes from the Imam. It turned out that Imam Faisal Abdul Rauf has been in the Middle East on a lecture tour sponsored by our State Department, urging Muslims to embrace the United States as a land of good will and openness to Muslim believers. Legally, we Presbyterians have long defended all law-abiding people of faith whatever their politics to practice their faith, but in this case the Imam has actually been a voice of both the Bush and Obama administrations. Why would we chop off a friend at the knees? It is ludicrous and dangerous! At the very same time that Imam Rauf was in the Middle East as a voice of American tolerance and David Petraeus was seeking to drum up support for alliances with Muslims in Afghanistan, the voices of hatred and bigotry at home set their sights on a group of moderate American Muslims. From a religious stand point it is obscene; from a political standpoint, it is stupid. It is painfully ironic that Osama bin Laden and a number of American politicians are in full agreement on this one: they are stridently opposed to moderate Muslims.

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