Why are we U.S. taxpayers funding a mission trip to increase worldwide understanding of American Islam, and when can we expect to fund a similar trip on behalf of Christianity?
New York Post’s Geoff Earle and Brendan Scott report, “The imam behind a plan to build a mosque near Ground Zero is set to depart on a multi-country jaunt to the Middle East funded by the State Department — raising concerns that taxpayers may be helping him with the controversial project’s $100 million fund-raising goal.”
State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley called Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf “a distinguished Muslim cleric,” with whom the State Department has a long-term relationship, having already funded two similar missions for Rauf. On this third mission trip to Qatar, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, Crowley says the Imam will discuss Muslim life in America, promote religious tolerance, and foster a greater understanding about the region around the world among Muslim-majority communities.
Whether or not the trip results in direct fundraising for the mosque, does not the religious language behind the trip cause concern? What about the so-called “separation of church and state”? Granted, the concept has been misunderstood and misapplied, but here it seems to be altogether missing from the public discourse. It only seems to come up when Christianity is at the center of debate.
Some of my evangelical friends believe that these issues are not our concern. I disagree. We are called to bring the gospel into the world, and this is not an optional assignment. Jesus commanded us to do so. So do we sit idly by while our money is used to fund the expansion of another gospel in the name of tolerance? Is this following Jesus’ command, or acting in direct opposition to it?
I was reading in Acts 4 today. Peter and John boldly stood before the rulers of their day and refused to obey their command to shut up about Jesus. Instead, they spoke up, saying, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:19-20).
They were bound by Jesus’ command to proclaim the truth of the gospel. We are too.
Question: As Christians, what do you foresee as our most effective response to this decision by our government?