joplinmosqueI have been very fortunate in life. I learned that acceptance of other’s beliefs and cultures is important and I come by that honestly. My mother was Roman Catholic and my father was Jehovah’s Witness.

I grew up in a cultural diverse part of Kansas City where “white people” were a minority.

In college I was lucky enough to make some good Muslim friends and experienced small snippets of many other cultures. I even had a good friend who as a Rastafarian from Kenya. That friendship may have come about because of one of my former vices, but that’s another story. I have facebook friends today from all over the world representing a large number of faiths such as Hinduism, Paganism, and Buddhism.

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The point is that I feel blessed to have experienced lots of different people from lots of different beliefs and cultures.

Now I live in SW Missouri where prejudice and hate reign supreme with a segment of our population. Any time we hear of terrorist acts happening abroad, certain members of the local Christian community are “up in arms.” They are ready to fight the evil that they believe stems from the Nation of Islam.

Islāmic people are not bad. This is my belief. It is the extremists, terrorists, and corrupt government officials that can make an entire culture look bad. And, don’t be mistaken, this stuff happens here too. It happened in my back yard back in August. Should Muslim people hate ME for this?

Lots of people may remember the horrific tornado that hit Joplin Missouri, but they are less likely to remember the hate crime of August 2012.

In August an Islāmic Worship Center was burnt to the ground in Joplin. Was it an accident? It is very doubtful that it was because this was the second blaze to the center in a span of less than 45 days. The first fire was doused, the second fire left the center in a state of total loss.

In a small prayer session on the grounds of the burnt mosque, community members gathered and heard these words…

“This is what we stand for,” said Dr. Ahmed Asadullah, a member of the Islamic Society of Joplin. “Freedom of religion. Freedom of speech.” –Source USA Today

I guarantee you that somewhere overseas people heard about this hate crime and their first assumption was “America hates Muslims.” They might reason that all Americans are terrorist supporters who want to crush the nation of Islam. If you listen to certain Christian leaders they would say the same thing about all Muslims.

Why do we need to live in the hate? How can you hate people you don’t even know?

This country was built on freedom of religion. What happened in Joplin, Missouri was a crime against our founding principles. Unfortunately the story quickly became back page news. If it would have been a Baptist Church I doubt the story would have faded as quickly. That is just my opinion.

Would you think it was fair if a Muslim from another country assumed that you endorsed hate crimes and terrorism, simply because you happened to be a Christian?

Wake up people because that is exactly what happens here. Terrorists are terrorists and there are Christian terrorists as well.

Muslim people are not all bad and Christian people are not all good. Both religious beliefs are built on solid principles of love and human goodness.

To assume that other cultures are filled with hate is ultimately naïve and irresponsible. In our own country, built on religious freedom, we see examples of the same terrorist acts. They may not happen every day, but they do happen.

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When they happen, where in the hell is the media to question the fabric of what we have become? The media understand that this was likely the actions of a few people, or maybe even one person, driven by hate.

By the way…I added this paragraph after the original printing because someone called me out, and I was wrong. Upon writing this article I shared the same bias that I am so against. A reader told me, “You seem to be assuming a Christian did this.” This reader was so right and I will admit…that was my first thought. I didn’t state that but I would be lying if I didn’t say the thought crossed my mind. Honestly we can not assume anything. Regardless, I am human and I will assume things that I should not. People overseas who may have heard about this may assume things they should not as well. People in this country also might assume things…And you know what they say about the word “ASSUME.” It makes an ASS out of U and ME. In this case…primarily ME. Regardless, I just stand as living proof of what I was trying to point out.

Why is it OK for us to judge our Muslim brothers? Is it OK for them to assume that all Christians in SW Missouri are terrorists? It’s not OK in either case. Just something to think about.