Now, on Spetember 11, a day that will live in infamy (as a famous recorded voice once said), the media are abuzz with reports about the proposed Ground Zero Mosque (aka Cordoba House) and a Florida pastor's plans to burn the Qu'ran. I'm against both, and feel grateful that Pastor jones of Gainesville has decided to back off the burning. But I remain greatly bothered by the plans of a sleazy slumlord to build a mega-mosque so near Ground Zero. It smacks of Islamic triumphalism. I am further bothered by our national leadership's gutless reaction to not-so-thinly veiled jihadist threats. It was a lost opportunity to teach something important.
Perhaps Pastor Jones backed off because he noticed that in spite of jihadist bravado and bullying, there is a noticeable movement away from Islam going on in the world today. Not too long ago, the teenaged daughter of Sri Lankan immigrants named Rifqa Bary made headlines by fleeing home claiming that she feared becoming an "honor killing" victim over her conversion to Christianity. Missions organizations have been both pleased and taken by surprised at unprecedented numbers of Muslims elswhere inquiring into Christianity. In the little Teherans of America, Christians of Muslim heritage are beginning to catch up with ethnic Armenians and Assyrians of Iranian national origin. A quiet flow of previously Muslim West African immigrants into Christian churches is also happening in some of the major urban areas of the USA.
Hence, the right thing for any Christian leader to do in times such as these is to make it clear to Muslims that the Gospel is not a club held over their heads, but the doorway through which they are invited to pass in order to know God. This is why I salute Pastor Jones' decision to back off an action more at home in the streets of Karachi, Cairo, or even Jakarta than in America.
But in the past week, why did our leadership ignore a marvelous teaching moment? While its concerns were understandable, Obama, Petraeus, and Clinton all failed to remind the world that America has such a thing as the First Amendment. The portion of the US Constitution that would have protected the burning of the Qu'ran also protects many things dear to our Commander-in-Chief.
Saul Alinsky used to urge the have-nots of America to pitch their demands so high that they would bring down "the system". The would-be Green Jobs Czar Van Jones' right to be a "Troofer" and claim that George Bush engineered the destruction of the Twin Towers is also protected by the First Amendment. Safe Schools' Czar Kevin Jenning's right to advocate teaching children the glories of sodomy also is protected by the First Amendment. The Reverend Jeremiah Wright's twenty years of preaching to the Obama family that God should d__n the USA is also covered by the free exercise and free speech clauses. Michelle's shame in the country that made her a rich woman prior to her husband's winning the Democratic nomination, disgusting as it was and remains, is also protected.
The Fist Amendment also protects the right of many a Muslim imam's right to call the Jews the kin of apes and pigs, accuse Christians of polytheism, and deny that the Shoah took place; and do it in the heart of America.
Our leaders should have told the entire Muslim world that while they did not condone Jones' earlier proposal--a statement with which I am in complete agreement, by the way--the actions of a pastor leading a 50-member congregation was not something in which the US Government was obligated to interfere. Indeed, had the major media not been so desperate for a Christian "equivalent" of Muslims' burning Christians alive in northern Nigeria or kidnapping Christian girls, forcibly converting them to Islam, and marrying them to Muslims (usually following rape) in places like Pakistan and Egypt, nobody would have noticed Jones' earlier plan.
Let's only hope they don't miss the opportunity next time.