Conservative Christians Grapple With Whether 'Religious Freedom' Includes Muslims
For decades, fights over religious liberty in the U.S. have mostly been about the religious liberties of Christians. Evangelicals have rallied around issues like prayer in public schools, and more recently, whether conservative Christian vendors should be required by law to provide services for same-sex weddings.
But now, as the nation's small but growing Muslim population gains a higher profile, other questions are emerging, including debates in several communities over the right to build mosques.
The pastor of Fort Des Moines Church of Christ in Des Moines, Iowa, says Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is "morally loathsome."
Pastor John Wofford of Armorel Baptist Church in northeast Arkansas raised that question at a national meeting of Southern Baptists this month.
"I would like to know how in the world someone within the Southern Baptist Convention can support the defending of rights for Muslims to construct mosques in the United States when these people threaten our very way of existence as Christians and Americans?" Wofford said. "They are murdering Christians, beheading Christians, imprisoning Christians all over the world."
It had been just days since a gunman who had pledged loyalty to ISIS shot and killed 49 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando. The gunman was also killed.
In response, Southern Baptist leader Russell Moore warned that letting the government restrict Muslims could lead to restrictions on Christians. He believes Christianity is the only true faith, and people must choose it freely.
"Sometimes we have really hard decisions to make — this isn't one of those things," Moore said. "What it means to be a Baptist is to support soul freedom for everybody."
Mosques are nothing. The real problem will be the muezzin calling for prayer (through loudspeakers) at 5 AM.