Muslims Have Right to Religious Freedom in America Too, Russell Moore Says

Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, speaks at the 2014 SBC Annual Meeting in Baltimore, Maryland on Wednesday, June 11, 2014. | (Photo: The Christian Post/Sonny Hong)

Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission President Russell Moore of the Southern Baptist Convention wrote a rebuttal to a Baptist editor's claim that Muslim Americans do not have religious liberty.

A recent editorial from a Georgia-based Christian publication claimed that Islam did not qualify for religious freedom, arguing that it is not a religion as much as it is an extremist political movement.

In a blog entry published Wednesday, Moore countered that standing up for the religious freedom of non-Christians was in perfect harmony with sound Christian theology.

"When we say — as Baptists and many other Christians always have — that freedom of religion applies to all people, whether Christian or not, we are not suggesting that there are many paths to God, or that truth claims are relative," wrote Moore.

Israeli border police officers (back) stand guard as Palestinians pray in the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Ras al-Amud October 9, 2009. The Dome of the Rock, on the compound known to Muslims as al-Haram al-Sharif and to Jews as Temple Mount, in Jerusalem's Old City is seen in the background. Palestinian leaders on Thursday called for a one-day general strike and warned of more street protests over Jerusalem, where clashes at the flashpoint al-Aqsa mosque two weeks ago cranked up tensions in the disputed city. Israel is playing down Palestinian warnings that its security tactics risk a new Palestinian uprising. | (Photo: Reuters/Darren Whiteside)

"We are fighting for the opposite. We are saying that religion should be free from state control because we believe that every person must give an account before the Judgment Seat of Christ."

Moore also noted the slippery slope of not protecting non-Christians' right to worship, arguing that such a government can eventually conclude that Christians do not have religious liberty.

"A government that can tell you a mosque or synagogue cannot be built because it is a mosque or a synagogue is a government that, in the fullness of time, will tell an evangelical church it cannot be constructed because of our claims to the exclusivity of Christ," continued Moore.

"If Jesus is right about His Gospel, we do not need the power of bureaucrats to carry out the spiritual mission of the advance of the Gospel."

Earlier this week Gerald Harris, editor of the Georgia Baptist newspaper The Christian Index, authored a column denouncing the ERLC's recent support for a New Jersey Muslim community fighting a legal battle to be allowed to build a mosque.

"While Muslims around the world and in our own country are shouting 'Death to America' should we be defending their rights to build mosques, which often promote Sharia law and become training grounds for radicalizing Muslims?" asked Harris.

"… it must be understood that to Muslims, freedom of religion means practicing Islam only. Muslims are compelled by the Quran to destroy all other religions by whatever means necessary so that Islam may be the only religion in the entire world."

Harris went on to argue that "Islam may be more of a geo-political movement than a religion" and that the ERLC should spend its efforts on other more Christ-centered labors.

"So, do Southern Baptists entities need to come to the defense of a geo-political movement that has basically set itself against Western Civilization?" continued Harris.

"Even if Islam is a religion must we commit ourselves to fight for the religious freedom of a movement that aggressively militates against other religions?"

For their part, the Georgia chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations has invited Harris to one of their iftar dinners, held after sundown during the month of Ramadan.

"We welcome Harris to break bread with his Georgia Muslim neighbors so that he can recognize the common values that unite all people of faith," stated CAIR Georgia Executive Director Edward Ahmed Mitchell.

"Americans need not share the same religious beliefs as our neighbors in order to respect their constitutional right to worship God as they see fit."

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