Culture & Religion
September Sat 11, 2010
On the anniversary of 9-11 I feel it's time to have a serious dialogue about Islam and religious freedom in the U.S. It is my hope that my Catholic brethren and anyone else who reads this article will find my position a reasonable one to hold.
If anyone on this planet understands the concerns of those who are against the building the Ground Zero Mosque, I do. This includes not building it near Ground Zero out of respect for all those that lost their lives there. I am absolutely convinced that most Americans don't have a clue about Islam though. Many are completely ignorant as to what it really teaches and the threat it poses to both Europe and the U.S. Islam by its nature is an ideology which is inherently political. In many regards it is a closed system, which is not open to reality. It does not organically develop as Catholicism has done throughout its history.
Islam considers itself to be a completed (and total) system to be imposed on the rest of the non-Muslim world by any and all means necessary, both through peaceful and non-peaceful means. Therefore it struggles with this concept of religious freedom. If your system or ideology is closed, how can you really be free? Many good Muslims are attempting to answer this question though and many others related to it. We should be open to dialogue with them. We should offer our friendship.
At this juncture, I think it would be helpful to give a little historical background on myself. After studying Islam for several years during college in the early 1990s, I converted to Islam in my senior year in college. I was a practicing Muslim during that year. In fact I was able to attend the convention of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) the year when it was held in Kansas City. It was there I met face-to-face with advocates and recruiters for Khalif'ornia Publication, a play on the word because they were based in California.
They were a radical and militant group of Muslims which promoted the formation of Khalifas, Islamic nation-states, here in America, in Europe, and throughout the world. I studied their material and listened to their audios. I became convinced that to be a true Muslim I had to follow their ideology, so I had a decision to make. If I wanted to remain an American who believed deeply in the right of religious freedom, I needed to leave Islam, and that's exactly what I did. Eventually, I became an Eastern Rite Catholic.
Fast-forwarding several years... Recently I returned from a deployment to Iraq. In fact, my unit was replaced by the unit you have seen all over the news as the last combat unit to leave Iraq. It was there that I saw the devastating results of this radical and militant version of Islam. Once you have smelled burning flesh you will never forget it. Once you have had to write home to the spouses and parents of soldiers who have been killed in action, you will never forget it.
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