It's easy to say we believe in equality and justice, but can we be true to that even with people with whom we disagree?
I live in a decently-sized city named Murfreesboro, TN. If you watch the news or even “The Daily Show,” you may have heard the name. We recently had some media coverage over the issue of a Mosque being built here. True to my nature, I was at odds with the majority on this issue, but I also found myself at odds with many other atheists.
You see, I was and still am in favor of this mosque being built and available to my Muslim neighbors. Indeed, it has been built and I'm rather glad, although the court battle lingers on over this case. But I'm rooting for the Muslims to have their place of worship and I think they'll get it.
Now I'm sure some of your jaws have dropped. I mean, how could I want Muslims in my community?
The thing is, they're already here. They've been here for generations. They've had an Islamic Center here for well over 30 years and have grown in numbers beyond its capacity. They're US citizens and as such they deserve equal treatment under the law. In the end that's all that should matter. They deserve to be treated fairly whether or not I agree with them or their religion.
In my city and the outlying communities there are well over 50 Christian churches. Four of these are megachurches that allow for several hundred members or better. In addition there is a Jewish temple, and a Buddhist monastery here along with the current Islamic center. With the exception of the megachurches, these institutions have been here for 30 years or better. More importantly, the people who follow these religions and their past relatives have lived here for quite a long time. They've been our neighbors for generations. Their children went to school with me and my children go with theirs now.
I don't just believe in equality when it suits me or benefits me. I don't just talk about it when it's atheists not being treated fairly. I find Islam to be an absolutely abhorrent and barbaric ideology, but I won't be the one to try and force others to agree with me or infringe on their freedom because of it. To do so would make me just as bad as all the hypocrites who I rail on about. If these people who are my neighbors need a bigger place to worship then their right to that should not be infringed upon.
Congressional hopeful Lee Ann Zelenik recently said, "I will work to stop the Islamization of our society, and do everything possible to prevent Sharia law from circumventing our laws and our Constitution...", in a campaign speech. She's been exceedingly vocal about her opposition to this Mosque and Muslims in general. Now I make the distinction of saying she is anti-Muslim rather than anti-Islam because that's the honest truth. This woman hates Muslims and honestly believes all Muslims are terrorists hell bent on imposing Sharia on US citizens and overriding the constitution. In her fear and anger she shows even a willingness to negate the constitution herself to try and deny US citizens their civil liberties. She, and those like her, are willing to use any means necessary to reach their goal.
But I'm just not willing to do that. I truly believe that how you "win" is just as important as the win itself. I can't cheat and then strut around victorious. It just doesn't work that way. I want all religion to go extinct, but I want it to do so from natural causes. We have nothing to gain if we murder religion at the cost of true freedom and equality. So we must show that we stand by what we say. If we claim to stand for equality then we must stand for it across the board, even if it means protecting the rights of those we ardently disagree with.
I hate Islam, just like Christianity, Judaism, and all other religion. I believe it stunts human growth. But I do not hate Muslims or Jews or Christians. These are individuals and regardless of their beliefs I believe they deserve to be treated fairly and equally. They deserve to have the right to worship if they so choose and I'll fight for that right just as hard as I'll fight for my right to disagree and call it nonsense.
The way we win matters.
► Ender's Game | The way we win matters.