Wednesday, 3 September 2014

The Baptists and the Mosque

I got talking to someone who lived in Cahirvaven at the time when the Baptist Church was being built there.  He said that the movement of the Baptists to the area caused a stir, including from the 'altar' of the local Catholic Church.  I asked him to clarify, 'did the priest want the people to object to our planning permission?'  He suggested that he did.  But the priest's real complaint was along the lines 'what has happened that these sort would move into our area?'  The shocking thing was that such an attitude existed as recently as 1993.

But it is not only Catholics who are guilty of such prejudice and a sense of religious/cultural entitlement.  I lived in County Armagh at a time when the Muslims were looking for planning permission for a Mosque in Portadown (2003).  Many Protestants objected to the idea of such a building being built.  The attitude was 'this is our country not theirs' and the more illogical of people said 'we wouldn't be allowed build our churches in their countries so why should they be allowed build theirs here' (an interesting twist on 'do onto others as you would have them do to you').

I gladly believe in the separation of church and state.  I hate the linking of religion with nationality.  I think that the gospel can thrive where there is true tolerance.  And I fear that our increasingly secular state is becoming increasingly intolerant of religious opinions just as a religious state was intolerant of all dissenters.

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