A friend suggested today that some of us who are against all the fascist, anti-Muslim rhetoric being spewed by Donald Trump and his supporters offer to stand vigil outside the Islamic Center during prayers.
I would jump at the chance, so I messaged the center to see if they would appreciate our help.
There will be no guns, just us standing in solidarity with people who only seek to practice the freedom of worship that this country supposedly offers.
We are not needed yet, a representative of the center told me, but our outreach and our words of peace are appreciated.
To some, that Constitutional right to freedom of religion seems only to be a freedom for Christians to worship. To me, though, that freedom extends to all religions.
Islam is not a religion of war any more than Christianity is. However, like some Christians, a minority of Muslims have perverted their religion to a violent, misogynistic purpose.
I grew up in a church that taught everything is OK if it’s done for Jesus — even murder. I rejected that as a teenager and I reject it today. Hatred is never OK.
Republican presidential candidate Trump has spewed increasingly dangerous rhetoric in the last few weeks, and it’s that kind of hatred that incites violence against innocent people.
Even former vice president Dick Cheney has condemned Trump, but the candidate keeps spewing his hatred, and he’s being rewarded with big leads in the polls. People who don’t know anything about Islam are leaping at the chance to condemn an entire faith for the violence of a few.
Yes, the two people who shot 30-plus people in San Bernadino were radicalized Muslims. But the man who shot up a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs the previous week was a radicalized Christian and no one talked about trying to stop all Evangelical Christians from worshiping or voting.
The Oklahoma City bomber killed more than 160 people and there was no reaction from the right to his terrorism.
Millions of Muslims around the world are condemning ISIS and other radical groups who commit violence in the name of Allah, but you won’t see that on Fox News. You won’t hear Trump or any of his minions praising these devout, peaceful people. You won’t even hear them admit that there are peaceful Muslims any more than leaders of ISIS praising peaceful Christians who wish to bring about peace in the Middle East.
Is this what we as a nation have come to? Are we headed down the same path as Nazi Germany in the 1930s? Substitute the word “Jews” for “Muslims” in your sentences and ask whether you sound like a Nazi. If you’re talking about denying every Muslim entry into the United States, shutting down Islamic Centers, denying anyone any of their Constitutional rights based on religious beliefs or ethnicity, you are wading in fascist waters.
So, here’s my pledge of support for my Muslim brothers and sisters: I stand with you against the violence and hatred. If you are forced to wear anything identifying you as Muslim, I will wear it too. If you are threatened, I will stand between you and those who hate you. I will defend you with my life. I am a person of faith who believes we all worship a God of Love and I promise to live out that faith.
Rather than standing at the local mosque (which is rather off the beaten path here in Asheville) perhaps we should stand at the bridges over I-240 with signs that say: Muslims welcome here, Refugees welcome here, Muslims belong here, Refugees belong here, etc. The best time to do this would be during rush hour before it is dark. We would probably only need about six people.