…lest ye be judged.

2

Posted by admin | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 26-08-2010

As one of the dumbest men on our orb, I try to simplify ideas as much as I can so I can understand them.  Simple concepts are easier to grasp and follow, and makes decision-making easier.  If B always follows A, I know what to expect when I see an A.

However, just as in everything, there is a balance that must be achieved.  Oversimplification is perhaps as dangerous as the deep complexity many of us seem to strive for.

I am by no means a religious scholar, nor do I claim to be a follower of any specific religion.  I do believe in God, but consider each and every one of us equal in his (or her!) eyes.  As a follower of Buddhist principles, I continuously struggle to maintain an open mind on all subjects, which is sometimes quite difficult for someone as biased as I can be.

I know very little about Judaism.  I do know that Judaism predates Christianity by at least a thousand years, and that Abraham is considered a prophet of Judaism.  What I have observed about Judaism is that it is not a unified religion; there appear to be a large number of schisms ranging from the ultra-conservative to the ultra-liberal.  There are three main schisms within Judaism:  Orthodox Judaism, Conservative Judaism, and Reform Judaism.  The difference between the schisms is basically their interpretation of Jewish law.

Christianity is nearly 2000 years old, and it is not immune to the ideological fractures that Judaism has experienced.  Not only was I raised Catholic, but I was raised Catholic in Spain, during a period in which the church permeated society in just about all aspects.  (It appears that in my 20-year absence, the Catholic Church has considerably lost their influence on Spanish culture.)  It turns out that the Roman Catholic Church is only one of four major divisions within Christianity, the others being the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Oriental Orthodox Church, and Protestantism.  Even within Protestantism, there are several denominations which differ in dogmatic interpretation.  Haitian Voodoo could be argued to be Christian.  The Ku Klux Klan professes Christianity.  The Mormon Church definitely believes in Jesus.  On a side note, it is interesting to note that the same Abraham that is a prophet within Judaism is a prophet of Christianity.

Islam is one of the “youngest” religions, dating back roughly 1300 years.  (Interestingly, within Islam, not only is Abraham a prophet, but Jesus as well.)  As young as Islam is, it is also not immune to the ideological schisms that have permeated other major religions.  Not only is there Sunni Islam and Shi’a Islam, there is also Sufism and Ahmadiyya.  There are a significant number of patriotic American Muslims living in our cities already.

Even Buddhism—as a religion—traces its origins to Hinduism.  Hinduism itself can be traced back over 3000 years and also has a number of formalized ideological schisms.

At a microscopic level, every church appears to be a cohesive entity.  At a high-level, however, there isn’t a major religion that isn’t heavily fragmented by ideological and dogmatic interpretations.

The plans to build an Islamic community center and mosque in Lower Manhattan have come under heavy criticism, garnering national attention.  Ironically, the location where the mosque is planned to be built has already been in use for Muslim worship for some time.  The most vocal criticism is the insensitivity of building a house of Islamic worship so close to the former World Trade Center, where the atrocities of 9/11 took place.  The proclaimed insensitivity stems from the fact that the terrorists—or what I prefer to call them, those “God–mned motherfu–ers,” we Muslim.  The Republican establishment seems to have firmly attached themselves to this idea.

Should we blame the horrors of Columbine on the Vatican?  How about the persecution of aliens by the Ku Klux Clan?  Does the onus fall on Christianity?  (Sorry, Roman Catholic Church…but the Spanish Inquisition is all on you…)  I do not wish to oversimplify religion to the point that all members within one religion are alike.

Why do we blame the actions of a few (morons) on the whole?  A heavily-fragmented whole that can’t agree on anything except that they all believe in God?

As a veteran, I took an oath to defend the Constitution of this great nation of ours, against all enemies, foreign and domestic.  Regardless of my enlistment expiry, I do not recall my oath to the U.S. Constitution to have an expiration date.  One of the major tenets of our Constitution that separates us from most other nations is the Bill of Rights, in which freedom of religion is explicitly granted to U.S. citizens.

Well, that explicit freedom of religion extends to our Muslim neighbors as well.  If you are a legal citizen of our great nation, you have the freedom to congregate and worship as you wish, provided it brings no harm to others.  It says so in the U.S. Constitution.

It is concerning when I read or hear comments such as one of our politician’s demand that Saudi Arabia should allow building of Christian churches in Mecca prior to New York City allowing the proposed mosque being built.  In the words of a notable Republican—within the past decade—this is not about whom they are or what they do, it is about who WE are.

WE are AMERICANS.  Our nation—defined by our Constitution—is the envy of the world.  The fact that there is even a national debate regarding the proposed mosque is a credit to us; most countries would have abruptly terminated the discussions long ago.  Even so-called progressive governments, such as the French—which prohibited the use of facial veils—and the Swiss—which prohibited the building of minarets—have interfered in their nation’s religious “freedoms.”

I refuse to be defined by others.  I refuse to be compared to the citizens of other nations.  WE, as Americans, set the standards of citizenship for other nations.

The right to build a mosque—or any other center of religious worship—within our borders is granted by the U.S. Constitution.  That includes lower Manhattan.

Let’s not remember our fallen by becoming the closed-minded citizens of freedom-inhibited nations.

I choose to remember our fallen by shouting out at the world “YES!  You can build your mosque wherever you like, because I am an American, and America is about FREEDOM.”