In Murfreesboro, Tennessee, Muslims are hoping to celebrate Ramadan in the much-anticipated opening of their Islamic Center of Murfreesboro (ICM). While it seems they will be able to do so, a most unfortunate story is lurking in the shadow. A group of non-Muslims who filed suit seeking a restraining order to end the Centre’s construction has recently complained that the local judicial system did not offer a hearing to check the ICM’s ‘risk of actions promoting Jihad and terrorism’.
This group of non-Muslims also argues that Islam is not a religion and thus undeserving of the religious freedom protections granted by the First Amendment. It furthermore claims that Islam is not a religion but a political ideology.
In response to this act of terrorism, Reverend Bill Williamson of the Columbia Presbyterian Church not only offered the Columbia Muslim community money but also a key to his church if they needed protection or a quiet space to pray. Reverend Williamson even went as far as offering to remove religious symbols of Christ if they were offensive.
The Muslim community did not ask Reverend Williamson to remove the Christian symbols. Muslims, after all, revere Christ and treat him as one of the great prophets of the Abrahamic tradition.
If members of the Murfreesboro community need guidance on how to treat their Muslim neighbours as Americans and Christians, they have the perfect role model in Reverend Williamson, who was only following in the footsteps of the Founding Fathers. These men certainly were not perfect, but on the issue of religious freedom, they most definitely were:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. – First Amendment