This week in "The 3", another chapter in the Proposition 8 battle in California, plus the aftermath of a tragedy involving Christians in Afghanistan. Our top story involves the controversy surrounding the proposed Islamic center near the former site of the World Trade Center in New York City.
3 - Proposition 8 battle continues, judge refuses to stay order, taunts proponents
This week, as anticipated - another move from the judge-advocate Vaughn Walker, the Federal district judge responsible for a ruling against the constitutional amendment approved by some 7 million people in California called Proposition 8...a no-nonsense measure defining marriage in the state as one man and one woman. However, when a same-sex couple filed a Federal lawsuit against the amendment, Walker took it upon himself to make the issue into a spectacle, and he continues to do so.
Proponents of the measure had already announced that they would appeal the ruling to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and Walker refused to stay his ruling pending a decision from the appeals court, basically putting his ruling "on hold" until the day it would presumably take effect anyway. He questioned whether there would be anyone eligible to appeal his ruling, since the governor and attorney general did not do their duty to uphold an amendment to the state's Constitution. Here is the report from The Christian Post.
Mario Diaz has an excellent analysis at the Concerned Women for America website.
So, as we begin the new week, we look to the 9th Circuit to stay Judge Walker's ruling pending its decision on the case. If it refuses to do so, proponents of Prop. 8 may seek relief at the U.S. Supreme Court, where Justice Anthony Kennedy would be the justice who would be hearing the case.
2 - Slain aid workers in Afghanistan identified
It was announced this week that 10 aid workers, affiliated with the Christian organization IAM, which stands for International Assistance Mission, were slain in the nation of Afghanistan, reportedly at the hands of Taliban fighters, who claimed the workers were attempting to "proselytize", which is against Afghan law. In a press release and press conference on Monday, IAM President Dirk Frans affirmed that indeed the 10 workers who were found dead were with IAM, and 6 of the dead were Americans. The workers were part of an Eye Camp team who were providing eye care to poor individuals.
Frans answered concerns about the authorization of the Team, and stated that they did have the proper authorization. Furthermore, he claimed they were not attempting to proselytize, but that they were attempting to abide by the laws of Afghanistan, although it is understood that they were a Christian organization. Frans emphatically said that IAM's work in the nation would continue. Here is a transcript of Frans' comments.
On The Meeting House radio program, on a couple of occasions, I have had the opportunity to interview Mindy Belz, Editor of WORLD Magazine. In fact, a couple of months ago, she described what she had observed regarding efforts to inhibit Christian expression in the nation of Afghanistan. She recently returned to the nation in the wake of these deaths, and filed this report for WORLD. Here is an earlier web-only post she wrote earlier this week.
It is important to note that the Taliban does not reflect the views or authority of the Afghan government, although there is concern about a resurgence of their forces. If this is an attempt by the Taliban to somehow "enforce" Afghan law, it is certainly misguided. The Taliban represents a renewed threat to peace and stability in this turmoil-filled area of the world, and in the face of a government perceived as weak, it it formidable in its position.
1 - Leaders, citizens debate Ground Zero mosque
The proposed mosque, or Islamic cultural center, that is being planned for the area near the former site of the World Trade Center in New York City, has been a hot topic of discussion for the past few weeks, as Christian, Jewish, and conservative leaders have expressed concern, not necessarily because of the facility itself, or of the rights of the leaders to build it, but because of its location: because 9-11 was perpetrated by followers of radical Islam, the proximity of the mosque to this location could be perceived as some sort of commemoration of the deeds of that day.
Also, this week, CNN reported that the Imam of this center, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, is being sent to the Middle East by the State Department, at taxpayer expense, to promote religious tolerance. However, according to reports, he has stated that he regards America as being behind the 9-11 attacks, and is dedicated to the imposition of Shariah law in the U.S. Here is Frank Gaffney's piece in the Washington Times. Abdul Rauf's ties to organizations that are regarded as radical are troubling, and his ability to share his ideas in a high-profile location, in a site that represents the threat that fundamentalist Islam poses to America, has brought quite a bit of opposition.
In fact, this week, Governor David Paterson of New York, recognizing the rationale of the opposition, has offered to work with the group to perhaps find an alternative location. And, President Obama stepped into the fray during a Ramadan dinner at the White House Friday night, saying that America supports religious freedom, and the proponents of the Cordoba House center should be free to express themselves by constructing this mosque. He said, "I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as anyone else in this country. That includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances. This is America, and our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakable." During the weekend, he seemingly wavered on his statements, according to this piece in the Los Angeles Times.
So, while the Cordoba center has the right and the freedom to construct this mosque, its appropriateness can be called into question. Christian leaders have spoken out, according to this piece in the Christian Post. Michael Youssef, pastor of Atlanta's Church of the Apostles, who will be a guest on the 8/16 edition of The Meeting House, wrote this insightful piece.
Muslims certainly do have the freedom to practice their religion, but the choosing of this location represents much more than just practicing religion - experts believe this is a proposed action in order to make a statement. And, if you want to talk about religious freedom, please note that Shariah law, that is practiced in a number of Islamic countries, does not allow for religious freedom - you must choose the religion dictated to you by government or face a penalty, or even death. Followers of Islam certainly do have the right to practice their religion, but their political philosophy stands in direct contrast to our Constitutional system and the rights for all that are enshrined there.
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