An outdoor television interview with one of the members of the mosque was interrupted by a pastor from the Church of Latter Day Saints. The reporter was trying to cover the middle of the night attack on a the Joplin, Missouri house of worship. It has not yet been ruled an arson, but it is the third such incident at the mosque.
When the mosque first opened in 2007, their welcome sign was burned in another dark-of-the-night incident. Then, last month, extensive damage was indisputably an act of arson. Police caught a very clear image of the arsonist on camera. He spread flammable material over the roof of the mosque, then set it on fire.
So this is the third incident. Nobody seems to doubt that it is, in fact, the third attack.
This came directly after the fatal mass shooting in Wisconsin by a white supremacist at a Sikh temple as worship was about to begin. It seems fair speculation that the guy who thought he was superior for being white was also ignorant enough to mistake the sometimes turbaned Sikhs for Muslims.
The right of Muslims to worship God as revealed to them seems, to some followers of Jesus, to be a questionable stretch of the Constitution. In Louisiana, a State legislator, Valarie Hodges, switched positions on school vouchers. She supported a voucher program that would fund church schools, but changed her mind and opposed the program when she found out that it would not be restricted to Christians. Muslims would be able to participate as well. "I do not support using public funds for teaching Islam anywhere here in Louisiana." She is not a lonely voice crying in the wilderness.
After Joplin was ravaged by a massive tornado last year, the city became noted for pulling together. Is it seen that way now?
Well yes, actually.
Hate is only part of the story. It is a very large part, and the damage is extensive. The mosque has been completely destroyed. But hate seems to have been a minority position.
The burned down mosque had recently been the scene of an interfaith Ramadan celebration. Jews and Christians had been welcomed and had joined with Muslims. And after the blaze that destroyed the mosque, offers of help came from other centers of worship. A synagogue was offered, so was a church, places that might serve as makeshift mosques until a new structure could be built.
A reporter from CNN was trying to cover the middle of the night attack on the Joplin mosque. The television interview was with one of the members of the mosque. The interview was interrupted by a pastor from the Church of Latter Day Saints. He wanted to express his support for his Muslim brethren. He shook the hand of the Muslim member and offered a brief hug. We love you, he said.
We can't offset the hate. But we can demonstrate that, just as hate is not what Islam is about, so it is not the heart and soul of Christianity.
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