I haven't posted yet on the whole Ground Zero mosque debate.I have watched and listened with growing sadness, and a great sense of fear that we are losing something very important in this day and age.
I then came across a new book the other day at the library, Preaching With Sacred Fire which is an anthology of African-American sermons. I opened to one of the more recent sermons from 2001, not long after 9/11. I found the following, and it chilled me as I thought of what's going on at Ground Zero.
The devil likes unbelief, and he likes our thought life to be in agreement with fear. That's all he wants you to do is have fear, fear, fear. You walk around in fear. But you do understand that God has not given us the spirit of fear. He has given us power. He has given us love. He has given us a sound mind. But if the devil can make you fearful -- put fear throughout your mind, he's got you!Fear! That is the underlying issue and it is one that is being used to great and terrifying ends. We are now afraid of anyone that might be, or even looks, Muslim. Yesterday a cab driver was stabbed after being asked if he was a Muslim. When he responded that he was the passenger attacked him. It is being called an anti-Muslim hate crime.
I me tell you something, people of God, bin Laden really doesn't have to do another thing. Because you know what has happened in America? Fear has taken over our minds, and because fear has taken over our minds -- that's why the economy is all messed up. Stock market is down. I mean, fear is crazy. You go to the airport, and they don't care who they stop. 80-year-old woman -- and what is she going to have on her? Can hardly move; can hardly walk. Fear! That is what the devil does. Bin Laden can just stand back and laugh and say, I don't have to do anything, I've got them now.
--"The Enemy Inside Your Mind, "(2001) Rev. Paul S. Morton, Sr. in Preaching With Sacred Fire, p.771
Fear! That's what it's all about. Is Obama a Muslim? Be afraid. Are anchor babies and illegal immigrants going to harm our standard of living? Be afraid. Is gay marriage going to ruin the institution of marriage? Be afraid. And when we act out of fear, unfortunately, we often act irrationally. Logic, common sense, thinking -- they go out the window.
I read again Pastor Morton's words if we have lost their fear takes over. Bin Laden need never again terrorize us for we are doing that to ourselves when we live in fear.
Perhaps it is also unbelief that is working at us. What we need is to believe again. We need to believe in ourselves. We need to believe in the rightness of our beliefs and values. We need to believe again that freedom of religion just as freedom of speech, freedom of the press, or even the right to keep and bear arms, are what set us apart and give us the ultimate and most powerful strength.
I pray that our American values and trust in the strength of our diversity will keep us free.