Dan Darling is a friend of mine. If you haven't been reading his excellent blog, then you should be. His posts are always well-reasoned, never shrill, and always uncompromising, just like Dan himself. It's rare, therefore, when I see anything on his blog with which I would take exception. But this is one of those instances.
It is Dan's contention that opposing the building of a Mosque at Ground Zero would be "a clear violation of the 1st Amendment, a fundamental and unique element of our Republic…." He writes,
I find it not the least bit ironic that the same conservative leaders, who blast the liberals for not adhering to the Constitution, are so willing to jettison those believes because they detest the building of this mosque.
What upsets me more, is to hear Christians accept the conservative talking points, without thinking through this issue biblically and historically and legally.
Do you know what would be a better move for Christians upset at a Ground Zero Mosque? Tell the world that a mosque doesn’t intimidate you, because you know the one, true, God, Jesus Christ. Proclaim the gospel far and wide. Give your energies to planting churches in cities like New York so that the false religion of Islam is drowned out by the loving, truthful message of the Gospel.
Let the truth be tested in the public square as Elijah did with the prophets of Baal. We’re not afraid of other religions, because we believe God has spoken truthfully through his son, Jesus Christ and that Muslims are not our enemies. It is our desire to see their eyes open to the eternally life-changing message of Jesus radical sacrifice for our sin.
Dan, I agree completely—well almost completely. But I think you're asking the wrong question. You see, this isn't primarily a legal question, at least for me. It is a theological question.
Earlier in your post you agreed that Islam is a false religion according to the Bible. By stating this, you are in essence stating that the activities that occur within the Mosque would be sin. Actually those activities would be more than just sin (failing to conform to the character of God). The whole enterprise would be an affront to God and supplication of demons (Deut 32:16-17; 1 Cor 10:20). If it is true that "Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people" (Prov 14:34 NIV 84) then the most patriotic thing believers could do would be to oppose this mosque or any other.
Dan, I challenge you to find the principle of freedom of religion in the Scriptures.....anywhere. It's simply not there. Instead there is the principle of the civil government restraining evil and rewarding virtue (Rom 13:1-5). If the government is really going to take this mandate seriously, then it must restrain evil in all it's forms, which includes the worship of demons. I understand this language won't win me any friends (what else is new?). But I don't know how to read the Scriptures any other way.
It should be quickly stated that my assessment of what government should do is not the same as my advocating government to abandon our Constitution. The established authority in our country is the Constitution and subsequent amendments. To obey Romans 13 is to submit to this established authority.
I also have no delusions about the righteousness of our government or any other government for that matter. The government of the United States is taking it's council together with the other rulers of this world against the LORD and his Anointed One (Ps 2:2). So I don't expect righteousness to come flowing out of Washington any time soon.
But what about the response of believers? Shouldn't we be working within legal means (the criteria for civil disobedience isn't met here) to promote righteousness and restrain evil? Did we somehow lose the right to petition the government merely because it is a religious issue? Even more fundamental, shouldn't we be praying that God would hinder this affront to his character for our own self-interest (Jer 18:7-10; Jer 29:9)?
I love and respect you Dan. But righteousness, not rights, is the issue. As a brother, I respectfully disagree.