Freedom of Religion

September 11, 2010 at 4:11 pm (Faith, Interfaith, Politics) (, , )

I’d been holding off commenting about the controversy surrounding siting the proposed Islamic Center near the World Trade Center because frankly it’s been a busy summer and I haven’t felt educated enough to talk about it. And then there was the yahoo, I mean reverend pastor, in Florida who wants to make a name for himself by burning Korans, but I didn’t want to write about that until I’d read more than the headlines and heard more than the soundbytes.

But you know what, it’s shaping up to be a busy fall, and not having all the facts doesn’t seem to stop anyone else so I’m jumping in with my two cents.

Today is September 11. Nine years and three days ago I got married. Then nine years ago terrorists hijacked four planes crashing them into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a Pennsylvania field. More than three thousand people lost their lives. Sam asked me this morning if we should take a moment of silence to honor those people and commemorate the event.

I said no.

And then I burst into tears. Here’s why: I don’t really want to build monuments or hold services or take a minute of silence. I want us to honor those people by being the best Americans we can possibly be. I want us to honor them by paying more than lip service to the idea of freedom of religion. I want us to make clear to the rest of the world, yes, but also to the millions of Muslims living in the United States that we don’t equate their religion with terrorism, that we don’t hold them responsible for what happened on 9/11 any more than I’m responsible for the Crusades or the Inquisition. Saying there can’t be an Islamic Center within a certain radius of the Twin Towers, burning Korans? That’s saying we hold Muslims, all Muslims, responsible for the actions of a small group of bad people. Listen, I’m sorry to tell you this, but bad people do bad things, there are bad people of every religion, and it shouldn’t reflect on the rest of us who are trying to raise our families, do our jobs and lead decent lives, whatever our religious beliefs.

So here’s how I’m commemorating September 11th: two birthday parties, two soccer games, homemade bread and corn chowder. And a prayer or of comfort for those who lost loved ones…and a fervent petition that we as Americans will make that ideal of religious freedom a reality.


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