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How hard is too hard to push for Muslim religious liberty?

26 January 2011 General No Comment Email This Post Email This Post

By Cathy Lynn Grossman, USA TODAY

Richard Land, long time leader of the Southern Baptists’ religious liberty arm, has dropped out of a coalition to support the rights of Muslims to build mosques.

Why? He told the Associated Press that his constituents, the nation’s 16 million members of the Southern Baptist Convention, the nation’s largest Protestant group, didn’t like it. They don’t want the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, headed by Land, to support efforts to build a mosque in Murfreesboro, Tenn., by joining a friend of the court brief in a case opposing the mosque.

Land told The Associated Press.

I don’t agree with that perception but it’s widespread and I have to respect it,” Land said he was surprised by the opposition…

I do think it’s important to note that people were not calling me and saying Muslims don’t have a right to have mosques.

As he says on the ERLC web site:

While many Southern Baptists share my deep commitment to religious freedom and the right of Muslims to have places of worship, they also feel that a Southern Baptist denominational leader filing suit to allow individual mosques to be built is a bridge too far…

So, Land does not think taking specific action was the same as “promoting Islam” yet he’s pulled out of the first specific coalition action because some Southern Baptists object to participating, as Land notes on the ERLC story, “when Muslims are the aggrieved party.”

Land says he’ll continue working for change from outside the coalition. And other coalition members were respectfully disappointed in the withdrawal.

But I still wonder why Land chose to be directed by what he himself calls a mistaken perception? What does this say to his fellow Baptists — and to Muslims? Where’s the line on advocating religious liberty and freedom to worship and support for Islam?

Original post: How hard is too hard to push for Muslim religious liberty?

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