There’s a big fight going on in my part of the world. Some people want to build a mosque in rural Newton County, Georgia. Most of the people in Newton County, Georgia don’t want the building there. At least that’s how it seems. At first, those in opposition cited traffic concerns but at a recent public meeting, the real reason became apparent. The people of Newton County don’t want a Muslim place of worship in their community.
The will of the people is understandable here. After all, Islam hasn’t done the best job of separating itself from bloodthirsty lunatics. On the surface at least, one can understand why the people of Newton County wouldn’t want a Muslim place of worship in their community.
But that’s just on the surface. A second look reveals that allowing the government to decide which religion can or cannot put up a building is a very slippery slope. Beyond the rhetoric, fear and tribalism there is the following reality: when one religion is banned by the government, no religion is safe.
Islam is a lie. More than that, it is a demonic lie. Millions have been and continue to be deceived by it. I would love to see the religion wiped off of the map. But I don’t want that to happen because of a local government with a new ordinance or a federal government wishing to make “the sand glow.” I’d rather see Islam choked out by the gospel of Jesus Christ, the One True God. One day it will be.
There are a lot of houses of worship in my community. The one closest to my house teaches the false doctrine that Jesus was created. Many others, with more socially acceptable titles on the sign out front, haven’t preached the gospel in decades. If Jesus showed up this Sunday, they’d form a committee and have him voted out. There are other churches where the gospel of salvation by good works and the promise of health and wealth are boldly proclaimed. For them, the God of the universe is the means to the end of their best life now.
I pray for these churches and houses of worship. For some, I pray that they would shut down because everyone there comes to realize the lies they have believed and the truth of the gospel. For others, I pray for revival and a new start. But what I’m praying for can only be done by God, not the government.
I get it. Most terrorists are Muslims, not Jehovah’s Witnesses. All the people in Newton County want to do, I’m told, is keep terrorism out of their community. They don’t have a beef with any other religions.
I’m the pastor of a Baptist Church. I frequently preach that homosexuality is a sin but that homosexuals are not beyond God’s grace. I believe in male leadership. I am very particular about what wedding ceremonies, even the heterosexual ones, I will perform. I believe that every word of the Bible is God’s true word. There are some instances where I would be forced to tell government officials, “I must obey God rather than man.” And I’m not alone. There are millions like me.
But do you know what all of that makes us in the eyes of our increasingly godless culture?
Why do you think that peaceful, evangelical church planters have such a hard time finding a building in the northeastern United States? Because the angry mobs see them as intolerant. Or as being on the wrong side of history. Or hateful. Or just plain old terrorists.
The First Amendment of our Constitution does not speak of the freedom of the Baptist religion. Or the Methodist religion. Or a religion that we’re more familiar with and that’s less scary. It speaks of the freedom of religion. Period.
My dad used to tell me that democracy is two wolves and a sheep deciding what’s for dinner. Right now in Newton County, the wolf mob is friendly to Christianity. But we would be foolish to believe that it will stay that way. The tide has already turned against us in a significant portion of our country.
So if some group decides to build a mosque in your community, let them do it. The spread of Islam will not come to a stop because of a town hall meeting. But, at least in my part of the world, it can slow down when Christians start viewing Muslims as lost sheep in need of a Savior rather than pests in need of an eviction notice.
Freedom is scary. It comes with risks. There is danger involved. Some people can’t handle living under a government that isn’t big enough to keep them safe in any and every circumstance. As a result, they are left with a very large government that is big enough to protect them from any and every religion.
I hope that the mosque in Newton County gets built.
But, somewhere along the way, I hope that it gets repurposed because the families who worship there come to see the supremacy of Jesus Christ over Allah. That can’t happen through a government ordinance.
Only the Holy Spirit can make it happen. That can be a scary reality.
But when we rely on government to do what only God can, we are left with something even more frightening.