Dear Muslim Friends,
I hope this finds you in good spirits, and that you are having a wonderful month of Ramadan. I am sure you have seen the political controversy that has recently been stirred up by our far right-wing politicos about the proposed Mosque in Manhattan, near the site of the former World Trade Center. [Actually, for New York, the site is not particularly near at all, but you would not know that from the media.] One of my Muslim friends commented to me this week as follows, with apologies to the anonymous (here) source: “It’s rare to see western people want to defend true Islam or Muslims. Neither [do they] want to understand the true stories.” I quickly pointed out to this person that our Constitution guarantees Freedom of Religion in its First Amendment (of the Bill of Rights):
“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.”
Every American federal officer and every member of our Armed Forces is sworn to uphold these rights, among all those contained in our Constitution. Most Americans believe in these rights absolutely, particularly the freedom to practice one’s faith. My ancestors came to America to escape the 80 Years War (in 1625), in which the Catholic Spanish came to Protestant Holland for 80 summers to force the Dutch to return to Catholicism. They failed. Every fall my ancestors would flood Holland, forcing the Spanish back to sunny Spain. My whole family knows that we are American because of religious war. This is a common experience among the ancestors of most Americans. There are 10x as many Irish in the United States as Ireland, in part because of religious war between Protestants and Catholics. But I digress.
I told my friend that today an Annapolis Pastor would be preaching about the Mosque in Manhattan. He has allowed me to share his Sermon with you, so that you can all see that Americans are concerned about this matter, and hearing about it in their places of worship. I presume that this is a topic in many churches in America, as well as in many living rooms. I believe a majority of us believe strongly that the Muslim congregation of Lower Manhattan has an absolute right to build there Mosque, and as you can see, many of us believe it should be built. Some of you do not know that I also produced a television program defending Muslim rights in general, and wrote a book about my experiences in doing so. I have decided that I should share that work with you, so it is attached. I hereby grant you permission to share my book with anyone you deem appropriate to see it, and I grant them permission to do the same. I want every Muslim to believe that there are many in the USA, who will defend their rights, even to death. And millions of us have sworn to do so! The Rev. Hathaway has agreed that his Sermon may be shared in the same spirit.
It appears below in his forwarded message. Feel free to write to Reverend Hathaway about your reaction to his Sermon. I am sure he will be pleased to hear from you. If there is ever anything I can do to advance the interests of Muslims, Christians and other religions living in harmony, please feel free to call upon me.
Ramadan Kareem! Skip Conover