Wednesday, September 1, 2010

middle names and not-at-ground-zero-mosques

My middle name is Marbury.

One that my mother, grandmother and other various ancestors hold. The most infamous "Marbury" we lay ancestral claim to is Anne Marbury Hutchison.

Anne lived back in the day of the Puritans. And didn't exactly agree with the established church. And spoke about it, in public, and without heed to the ecclesiastical warnings of what might happen to her if she didn't pipe down.

So, Anne was sentenced to prison over a harsh winter, while über-pregnant, and eventually was excommunicated. (Her husband helped purchase an island near Rhode Island, relocated the family, and years later returned home from a trip to find Anne and several children scalped by local natives.)

You should read her story.

Here's where I'm getting...

If my beloved heroine and namesake had lived in modern day lower Manhatten, Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich and 68% of Americans would think her expressions of faith were wrong (and insensitive and whatever other words we're spewing around).

While many might not see the correlation-- Anne Hutchison leading her own version of Bible study and offending the Puritans and the moderate Muslims planning to build a Community Center and offending the Republicans-- it's there. The same reasons that sent Anne and her family packing to a god-forsaken island are the same reasons there are grossly ignorant tweets being made by political has-beens and wannabees.

We are America.

Not just the white, Christian, country-music-loving population among us, but the blacks and latinos and Asians and Catholics and Muslims and atheists.

We have a moral high ground to hold to--one we stake our worldwide reputation on. A high ground that's been used, time and time again, to justify our foreign policy, to allow us to make demands on other nations that we ourselves won't succumb to.

That moral high ground is our defense of Freedom. Freedom to worship whatever. Freedom to say (almost) anything. Freedom to meet about saving the trees or saving the unborn babies. Freedom to live productive lives, unhindered by a religious government that tells us what to do on Fridays. Or Sundays.

This is why we think we're better than Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Taliban, Fidel Castro, Hu Jintao and all other present and past despots who regulate religion and its expression.

And we should think we're better than them; better than their narrow-minded, restrictive policies.  

As long as we stay better than them. 

The minute we tell a peaceful, America-loving, group of citizens that they cannot express their persuasions the way they please, we lose that high ground. We lose a piece of our DNA, a part of our sacred foundation. We lose the very thing that has attracted millions of oppressed sojourners, in search of a better and freer life.

We lose our American-ness.

I will always lobby for freedom of worship and a secular state because history speaks, too clearly, to what happens when one group of citizens is allowed to dictate the religious behaviors of the rest. It's a slippery slope, this religous intolerance. I fear for the future of my children, my white, hopefully-Christian, probably-country-music-loving children, if our nation begins to acqueise these sorts of demands.

Only 90 years ago, another terrorist organization was at the height of its power and influence. Its members met in secret, monitored the social and religious behaviors of its community, and executed acts of terror on undeserving, innocent citizens.

Far too quickly have we forgotten that the Ku Klux Klan members claimed to be Christians. That Christian churches exist in the very towns where these terrorists lived and worshipped. That these KKK members would worship at Little Town Southern Baptist Church on Sunday morning and then meet to discuss their next lynching on Monday night.

And yet, we don't protest, we don't tweet about the "insensitivity" of those Christians with their buildings so close to the hallowed ground of martyrs. We are able to make the distinction between moderate, sane Christians and Christian terrorists.

Another distinction needs to be made. Soon.

If not, at best, we look and sound like idiots. At worst, we lose our Freedom.


(Let's check our facts: The "Ground Zero Mosque" is neither at Ground Zero, nor is it a mosque. The building site is 2 blocks away from Ground Zero. Ground Zero can't be seen from the site. It's a proposed community center, complete with a basketball court, fitness center, theatre, Islamic prayer room, and a memorial to the World Trade Center victims. Sounds pretty threatening to me.)


  1. Well done April, you have once again helped put things into perspective. Thank you.
    P.S.I agree there should be tolerance for different religions. I do not hold any ill will for people who worship in a way I do not. However, when my way of worship or Christ followness (so not a word haha) is threatened and feels unprotected that is when I feel I should fight back. I pray this never happens but I fear it already is.

  2. First, I absolutely love it when I see "(1)" next to your blog on my Google Reader, because I know I get to read something incredible and inspiring. I can't even find the words to tell you how great this post is. You've definitely widened my perspective, and hopefully that of those who read this! Thank you for saying what needed to be said.

  3. Thanks for sharing, Rachel. I, too, sense undercurrents of hostility towards Christians (you see it on TV and in the movies all the time) and I wonder if culture's trend will influence our govt's policies towards our freedom to worship. Sensing this makes me all the more eager to promote public expressions of faith, including Islam and other faiths. I think if one faith becomes restricted, so do the others, eventually.

  4. Thank you, katem129! What a compliment. Thanks for reading...

  5. katem129=Kate Morrison :) I thought about your post all day and I came to a realization. When it comes to, for example, gay marriage, an argument against its institution is that America was founded on Christian beliefs. Then I realized that God doesn't dictate us to follow him. He gives us a choice, between right and wrong, evil and good, love and hate, etc. Therefore, if God is the God of freedom, shouldn't America follow the same principle? Even from a religious standpoint, freedom prevails. Hope this makes sense.. :)

  6. Well, it's good to know who "katem129" is! Hi Kate! I definitely agree with your thought and it totally makes sense, but to complicate things, there's the whole factor of moral law that has to be sifted through this argument, too. It's a universal belief that gov't needs to protect its citizens--so what exactly should that protection look like? And who's version of "moral law" gets to be imposed on the majority? There are the obvious lines to draw--murder, theft, etc. that we call wrong and expect justice from our gov't, but there are so many other areas we don't all agree on, and I think this is where religious differences play out, like in gay marriage, abortion, etc...What do you think?

  7. "What I think" is exactly the point. It is what I think. And my opinion is based on my perspective, which is based on my experiences. My opinion cannot dictate the laws of the majority.

    In each person's perfect world, each government would be ruled by a person that you, or I, or Kim Jong Il, or Mother Teresa thinks would best suit their individual projections for that country. So we have our law-making bodies to sort things out. However, as we're taught in school, our Constitution is not a clearly outlined rule book, making these issues (particularly gay marriage and abortion) gray areas. So, we ("we" including those who ultimately make these decisions) rely on our opinions, albeit emotionally-charged opinions, to make these decisions.

    When it comes to the U.S government, it should exist to physically protect its citizens (from each other and from outside forces i.e. terrorism and natural disasters), protect them mentally by preserving their right to think and make decisions of their choosing, and protect them socially by allowing them to live their life the way they want...Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.

    I would like to think that the most nonpartisan group would decide the laws for this country. However, that will never happen. I think the best we can hope for is a balanced group of opinions who ultimately all know why they serve this country: to protect and expand on the freedoms our forefathers intended for this great melting pot of cultures, beliefs, and opinions.