The Common Good

A Different Idea for Ground Zero

Here's an idea for people who are unhappy about having an Islamic Center near the site of the World Trade Center, especially if those people are Bible-believing Christians and/or defenders of the U.S. Constitution. What if American Christians got together and offered to build an interfaith memorial instead?

Since we follow someone who suggested loving our enemies and forgiving 70 times seven (which we tend to ignore when we rant against the Islamic center), this would allow us to be more literal about our faith. And since we believe in our constitutional rights of religious liberty and freedom to assemble (which we might jeopardize by refusing to allow the Islamic center to be built), this would allow us to be more traditional about our politics as well.

See, we could pay for it ourselves. It would be cheap: only 50 cents from every American Christian would do it. We probably wouldn't want to call it Córdoba, since that brings to mind a city where medieval Muslims gave a fair amount of religious liberty to Christians (something Christians at the time were not doing for Muslims in neighboring cities). But we might call it something like "The Reconciliation Center" -- a very biblical term that evangelicals should like.

We could include separate worship rooms for Christians, Muslims, Jews, and every other faith held by victims of the 9/11 attacks. We could also include a multifaith meditation room for everybody, with pictures of the deceased, and symbols of hope and peace.

Just as important, we could use the memorial to bring the community together, now and in the future. I don't know what the neighborhood needs -- apparently it's rather rich in strip clubs and sex toys -- but how about a gym where kids of all faiths could play together? A food pantry staffed by and serving all people? A library with great works from many traditions? An auditorium where speakers, films, and concerts promoting reconciliation could be featured? A clinic offering free medical care for the homeless?

The only drawback I can think of in building such a center is that terrorists would absolutely hate it. They're already upset at Sufi Muslims such as Feisal Abdul Rauf, the man behind the Córdoba Initiative.Think how mad they would get if Christians co-opted his idea, improved it, and invited him to join them.

But as Jesus said, "Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake."

portrait-lavonne-neffLaVonne Neff is an amateur theologian and cook; lover of language and travel; wife, mother, grandmother, godmother, dogmother; perpetual student, constant reader, and Christian contrarian. She blogs at Lively Dust and at The Neff Review.

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