27 August, 2010

Act of Kindness That Made My Day

UPDATE: Monday morning post from Velveteen Rabbi says over $1,000 raised.

Came across word of this effort on the Internets today.
A rabbinical student blogging as Velveteen Rabbi is, on her own, collecting donations to pay for the cleaning and/or replacement of the prayer rugs at al-Iman mosque in Queens, New York, which were ruined when an heavily inebriated man barged into the mosque earlier this week and urinated on the prayer carpets. The man was arrested and charged with criminal trespass. Initial reports claimed the man shouted anti-Muslim slurs, but latest reports from the NYPD are that congregation members said the man did not make slurs.

As of Friday night she'd raised about $600 from nearly 40 people.
The plan is to present a check to the congregation of the mosque next week.
If you would care to contribute, follow the link in the first sentence to her post and follow the instructions.

She admits they may have already dealt with the rugs, but wanted to do something for the congregation anyway.
It's the spirit of the thing, given all the rhetoric and worse these days.
That's what I want to believe this country is still about.
Something bad happens to your neighbor, so you help them out. Simple as that.
Make of it what you will, but it made my day.

26 August, 2010

Yes, we DO have a problem

As you've probably read, things are not well here at the moment when it comes to religious freedoms, constitutional rights, common sense and basic decency towards others.

Anti-mosque sentiment seems to be growing across the nation, well beyond the site of the Park 51 project. The latest case involves a store-front mosque in Kentucky. The property owner claimed he had no problem with Muslims worshiping there, but they couldn't park right. When asked what his feelings would be toward Baptist worshipers if a church opened in the space, he responded that those people would know how to park right.
Fear the Muslims, America! They may ding your car!
I might add that this man has obviously never met some of my Baptist relatives who are terrifying behind the wheel, though I'm pretty sure it has nothing to do with their religious beliefs.

And, this morning brings news of a man barging into a mosque in NYC, berating worshipers and urinating on the prayer rugs.
That story follows the horrible and bizarre story of the NYC taxi driver stabbed by his fare after responding to a question about his religious beliefs. Some people emphasize that both men were drunk. A lot of us have been inebriated at some point in life. As a result, we've been stupid, rude, silly, nauseous and maybe even gotten in trouble. However, I'm pretty sure most of us have never stabbed somebody for their religious beliefs or relieved themselves in a house of worship. Much like other drunken behavior roundly condemned recently - anti-Semitic and racist remarks - there are certain lines most of us won't - CAN'T - cross even if under the heaviest of influences.

I was relieved to read that people in Gainesville, in my home state of Florida, have organized peaceful, interfaith actions to respond to a small, fringe church's plan to burn copies of the Quran on 11 September. The pastor claims he is burning them because they are "full of lies", which is rather ironic since the Quran is full of many of the same characters and narratives found in the Bible.

I can tell you from experience, this is not an issue solely of the Right. I have corrected false and, occasionally, pretty wretched comments from people who self-identify as being progressive or of the Left. And, as many have noted, those speaking out against all this anti-Muslim sentiment come from across the ideological spectrum. Who actually acts on misinformation and hatred is a different issue, beyond political division.

Stabbing people, burning sacred texts, urinating in houses of worship, denying worship space for reasons beyond real zoning issues, smearing an entire religion and all 1.5 million followers of that religion goes quite a but beyond "phobia", stupidity or lack of awareness.
This is hate, pure and simple. It is disgusting. It is dangerous. It is cancerous. It must be countered. And this goes for any issue of hate and discrimination.
If somebody says something that you know is not true, correct them.
If there is a movement to deny rights to members of your community, get active.
If you don't know enough, go learn, ask.
Don't know a Muslim? Call your local mosque and ask for a tour.
During the month of Ramadan, many mosques hold iftars (meals to break the daily fast) that are open to the whole community.
Aside from being a nice way to get to know others in your community and great learning opportunity, the food is often amazing and the mood joyous.
Just do something. To do nothing is to be complicit.