The Ground Zero Mosque And Religious Freedom, Part Four

Tuesday, October 5, 2010 \PM\.\Tue\.

I would like to continue our conversation regarding The Ground Zero Mosque, Religious Freedom, and Interfaith Dialog with Islam. Earlier posts on this topic can be found here (Part One, Part Two, & Part Three).

Johan Bonny has written what I consider to be a very helpful article entitled “Christian Witness and Ecumenism in a Society with a Muslim Majority“. (HT Stephen Hand ~ Time Out of Joint)  I especially appreciate how he deals with the issue of violence and how he refers folks to the life of Brother Charles de Foucauld.  I encourage everyone to read the entire article, but here are some highlights for your reference.

Christian and ecumenical witness is first of all related to the heart of the Gospel, to the example and the commandment of Jesus Christ. How can Christians live and profess together the essence of Christian faith: this is the key question in any ecumenical reflection. This question, however, leads to a deeper one: what is then the essence, the very heart of Christian faith? What is the specific genius of Christianity among the three monotheistic religions, that has Abraham as their common father in faith: Judaism, Christianity and Islam?

…The dialogue between Christianity and Islam will certainly become a major challenge of the new millennium. No dialogue, however, has a chance, unless it is based on friendship and mutual trust. How can personal trust and friendship be improved, where Christians and Muslims are living together, day after day?

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The Ground Zero Mosque and Religious Freedom, Part Three

Sunday, September 26, 2010 \PM\.\Sun\.

In my previous posts on this topic (Part One and Part Two) and the comments contained therein, one of the things which I feel is missing in this discussion is a dialog about the humanity of Muslims. Are Muslims human? Do Muslims have a religious sense? Do Muslims desire for truth, beauty and goodness? In stead of writing about this, I am going to show you. Watch this entire 60 Minutes program and judge it. It is simply amazing. Let us dialog about it in the comments.

The People Behind The Mosque


The Ground Zero Mosque and Religious Freedom, Part Two

Tuesday, September 21, 2010 \PM\.\Tue\.

Since publishing my original article on this topic, I have received a lot of feedback on it, both positive and negative. The article was cross-posted at The American Catholic, Il Sussidiario, and Catholic Online. A local version of the article ran in my hometown newspaper as well. Too be sure my article has provoked an important dialog. Due to the critical judgment that I have received from Catholic friends whom I admire I would like to clarify some of my thoughts. The overall position I took in supporting the building of the Ground Zero Mosque remains the same though.

First, I recognize the building of the Ground Zero Mosque is a prudential matter in which good Catholics, Christians, and Americans can agree to disagree upon. It is prudential matter and both sides have legitimate reasons to either support or oppose its construction at the current location.

It’s important that I address my use of the word “support.” My intention in using this word has caused unnecessary confusion on exactly what I meant by it. By support I do not mean Catholics should monetarily support the construction or operation of it. Construction workers who are Catholic can legitimately refuse to work on this project. It would be more precise to say that I would “allow” or “permit” it to be built. Catholic do not have to actively support it in any other way.

Read the rest of this entry »


The Ground Zero Mosque and Religious Freedom

Saturday, September 11, 2010 \AM\.\Sat\.

Here’s another guest post by David Jones, a former Muslim and Iraq veteran.

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On the anniversary of 9-11 I feel it’s time to have a serious dialogue about Islam and religious freedom in the U.S. It is my hope that my Catholic brethren and anyone else who reads this article will finds my position a reasonable one to hold.

If anyone on this planet understands the concerns of those who are against the building the Ground Zero Mosque, I do. This includes not building it near Ground Zero out of respect for all those that lost their lives there. I am absolutely convinced that most Americans don’t have a clue about Islam though. Many are completely ignorant as to what it really teaches and the threat it poses to both Europe and the U.S. Islam by its nature is an ideology which is inherently political. In many regards it is a closed system, which is not open to reality. It does not organically develop as Catholicism has done throughout its history. Islam considers itself to be a completed (and total) system to be imposed on the rest of the non-Muslim world by any and all means necessary, both through peaceful and non-peaceful means. Therefore it struggles with this concept of religious freedom. If your system or ideology is closed, how can you really be free? Many good Muslims are attempting to answer this question though and many others related to it. We should be open to dialogue with them. We should offer our friendship.

Read the rest of this entry »


From Franco to Flaccid in 40 Years: Why Christians Must Embrace Liberty Instead of Government

Monday, July 19, 2010 \AM\.\Mon\.

I am currently reading through one of the most fascinating and relevant books of our time, America Alone, by Mark Steyn. One of Steyn’s most provocative and convincing arguments is that demographics  will decide the future of Western civilization and the entire world.

Steyn argues that while the entire planet is or will be entering a phase of birth rate decline, some areas decline faster than others. America’s birth rate is falling, but Europe’s is falling faster, and Russia’s faster still. Meanwhile countries throughout the non-Western world are falling from much higher birth rates and will take decades to match our levels. Falling birth rates are bad news for everyone, but especially bad news for those who fall further and faster.

An analogous situation can be seen in the decline of the Church, and Christianity in general, at least with respect to the Western world. The number of Americans identifying as Christian or Catholic has decreased in recent years, but it will take some time for that number to reach abysmally low European levels. Here however I think it is important to move beyond a pure numbers game and look at some of the more qualitative  aspects of Christian/Catholic decline as well.

Read the rest here.


Firing of Dr. Kenneth Howell to be Reviewed By University of Illinois Committee

Wednesday, July 14, 2010 \AM\.\Wed\.

Last week I wrote here about the firing of Dr. Kenneth Howell who had the audacity, in a class about the Catholicism, to actually state Catholic doctrine about homosexuality.  There has been enough of a furor since that the University of Illinois is acting, according to this story in the Chicago Tribune:

A faculty group at the University of Illinois’ flagship campus will review the decision to fire an adjunct religion professor for saying he agreed with Catholic doctrine on homosexuality.

Urbana- Champaign campus Chancellor Robert Easter said Monday he hopes to have a decision on the firing of Kenneth Howell from the Faculty Senate’s Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure by the time fall classes start. The review is to determine whether Howell’s academic freedom was violated.

“We want to be able to reassure ourselves there was no infringement on academic freedom here,” new university President Michael Hogan told members of the Faculty Senate on Monday. “This is a very, very important, not to mention a touchy and sensitive, issue. Did this cross the line somehow?” Read the rest of this entry »


Vatican Weighs in On Middle East Christian Crisis

Tuesday, June 8, 2010 \PM\.\Tue\.

The Vatican  released a working paper during Pope Benedict XVI’s pilgrimage to Cyprus to prepare the way for a crisis summit of Middle East bishops in Rome. What I take away from this- along with the Holy See’s call for lifting the blockade of Gaza- is something of a vindication for my more raw views urging for a sea change in American Catholic opinion and action regarding the overall situation in the Middle East, and in Israel-Palestine in particular.

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