A Mosque in My Hometown

Recently the word got out that a Muslim non-profit group purchased 135 acres of land with plans to build a mosque, cemetery, and other potential developments in the southern part of the county I grew up in - the place I've called home since I was four years old. Needless to say, the news stirred up plenty of controversy.

As a result of the outcry surrounding the potential mosque property, the county commission declared a five-week moratorium on all permitting for religious facilities. Of course, the controversy didn't die down there. Hundreds filed in to a hastily called meeting for residents to voice their opinions, while Muslim groups have threatened to get the federal government involved - it is a First Amendment issue, after all.

Some of the opposition has been reasonable and calm. There are people who harbor concerns over traffic and development in general in a quiet, rural part of the county. Others believe that the transaction wasn't exactly on the up and up; the original application called for an "Avery Community Church" on the site. Let's face it: some of these concerns are legitimate.

Unfortunately, we've also seen the worst come out in people in light of the news about the potential mosque. Many of the residents who attended the meeting did so out of fear and anger - and, yes, hate. I've seen plenty of posts on social media demonstrating a less than Christlike attitude among folks who consider themselves believers. I've even heard of people looking to sell their houses and move elsewhere, along with rumors of some planned stunts like people throwing pieces of pork onto the property.

On the other side of the issue, I've seen the condescending busybodies who look down their noses at the people with concerns about the sale of the land. They call those who don't wholeheartedly embrace the idea "bigots," and they do so as loudly and possible. Many of them go so far as to equivocate between Christianity and Islam in the name of a vaporous notion of diversity or tolerance. I have a hard time with people who can only respond to adversity with name calling, no matter how righteous the anger or the cause.

What dismays me the most about this whole ordeal isn't the idea of a mosque in my hometown, or whether we should push for diversity for diversity's sake, or even how the county is handling the situation. I'm disappointed by the way Christians here are reacting out of fear, worry, and anger.