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Mack Richards Wants to Send Message to Muslims with Crosses

6 August 2012 General 36 Comments Email This Post Email This Post

Crosses next door to Murfreesboro mosque a message of Christianity

by Scott Broden (ShreveportTimes)

MURFREESBORO — Islamic Center of Murfreesboro members will pass a field lined with 13 white crosses in front of Grace Baptist Church on Bradyville Pike on the way to their new mosque once it opens.

“It was more or less to make a statement to the Muslims about how we felt about our religion, our Christianity,” said Mack Richards, a Middle Tennessee Baptist Church member who built the crosses at the request of Grace Baptist member and friend Bobby Francis. “We wanted them to see the crosses and know how we felt about things.”

“That’s what the church voted to do,” said Francis, who has been a member of Grace Baptist since the 1970s when it was on Dill Lane.

Grace Baptist moved into its current home of about 6,000 square feet two years ago and is currently served by Interim Pastor Dan Watts.

The mosque next door has been the subject of intense scrutiny and debate in the past two years, including vandalism to its sign, a bomb threat, arson to construction equipment on site and a lawsuit to block its construction. Plaintiffs unsuccessfully argued in court that Islam is not a religion but won one battle in which the judge agreed that insufficient notice was provided by the county government concerning a meeting over the mosque’s site plans, which is under appeal. Construction on the first phase of the building is nearing completion. A certificate of occupancy could come after a final inspection by the state fire marshal’s office on Tuesday.

Francis explained three of the crosses, including a taller one, represent the Trinity. He said he sees the crosses as being part of the “Great Commission,” a Christian reference on what Jesus called his followers to do in spreading the news about him to the world.

Muslims see Jesus as being an important prophet but do not view him as the son of God or accept that he died on the cross, confirmed Saleh Sbenaty, an ICM board member.

“We love our neighbors, all of them, including the church next door,” said Sbenaty. “As Muslims, we believe in Jesus, as well. Jesus said love thy neighbors. They are our neighbors, and we must love them.

“Also, our prophet Muhammad, before he died, told Muslims they need to love their neighbors and take care of them, and not only their immediate neighbor but extended to the seventh neighbor. That means everybody should love everybody, and that peace and love would be cast on the whole community.”


  1. How is that “islamophobia”?

  2. Sbenaty, who you think you’re kidding?

  3. Oh no not crosses. What’s next garlic & holy water

  4. @Jane, would this congregation have done the same thing if a Methodist church was being built in the neighborhood? A Catholic Church? A synagog? This is a reactionary act by people who are fearful of Muslims, hence the use of the the word “Islamophobia”, which means fear of Islam. The fact that you don’t recognize this as an attempted intimidation underscores your cluelessness, intellectual dishonesty, or inherent Islamophobia. Pick one.

  5. @Jane

    How is it NOT Islamophobia? I highly doubt people would be filing lawsuits, burning construction equipment, or erecting crosses if the new building was anything but a mosque.

  6. It’s sad that Grace Baptist had been supportive up until this point. It’s my theory that this was done to appease a portion of their congregation who are up in arms about it. The leadership has from the beginning sided with ICM time after time and been a bulwark against outlandish claims. Many tried to enlist their support to fight against the ICM, but they responded that this was absurd, unfair and a waste of their time. I get the feeling that this small church has enough problems just maintaining itself, it does not need to add a righteous crusade of hate to it’s to-do list. Just some opinions from a local.

  7. @Carl, the guy says: “It was more or less to make a statement to the Muslims about how we felt about our religion, our Christianity” – why do you have a problem with that? It seems a bit silly to me but I am not a christian.

  8. Jane, Are you a member of the Ku Klux Klan, or do you mind if I plant a cross on my lawn with your name on it? I have a problem just living in the same country with folks like you. If you are so belligerent to deny the intimidation and ignorance of this, I sure wish you’d consider leaving.

  9. @Robert, do you think Christians should not be allowed to put crosses up on their land if there is a chance a muslim could see them? Why do you think a few crosses is intimidating? Do you also a think a huge mosque is intimidating too or is that different?

    By the way, I don’t live in the same country as you. Feel free to plant a cross on your lawn with my name on it if that will help you.

  10. “it does not need to add a righteous crusade of hate to it’s to-do list”

    Putting up crosses is a righteous crusade of hate? What a strange world we are in

  11. Well thank the universe, but maybe sharing that is too much with you. No one can be as obtuse as you appear to be. And I have no problem with mosques, regardless of size, any more than I do with churches. I’m not intimidated by either, but if someone puts a cross up somewhere to send me a message, they will know immediately how I feel about it.

  12. Titus 1:16 They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work.

    Hey, look, Jesus knew the Grace Baptist Church was coming.

  13. Robert, why do you think churches put up crosses? Do you think they should only be allowed to erect a cross as long as no message is implied? What will you do if a cross is erected near you?

  14. It is religious bigotry, plain and simple.

  15. Putting up crosses is religious bigotry?

  16. Like I said Jane, and I’m not sure who you are or where you’re from, but there is the implicit, and there is the explicit, and this act considers both. It is not friendly or the sort of thing Christ would be doing. It’s a threat probably or at least an act of intimidation and these are the last words I intend to waste on you.

  17. @ Jane

    You’re a big fan of this site, intcha? Always arguing in support of Islamophobia… Don’t you have your own sites to pollute?

  18. @Robert, the guy mentions the “Great Commission”, many christians believe they have to spread the christian faith to all people. Apparently muslims will be passing their church on the way to this mosque so they have put up the crosses as a proselytising act towards people who deny the central christian tenets, it is perfectly legal and they believe they are called upon to do it. Presumably the muslims can hand out korans if they wish, they often do in the city where I live, would you be against that too?

  19. The folks putting up the crosses might as well just set them on fire while they are at it. The action is clearly a racist message. Anyone who thinks otherwise is fooling themselves. Audhu billahi. May God protect us.

  20. “You’re a big fan of this site, intcha? Always arguing in support of Islamophobia”

    I have never argued in support of islamophobia. This article has no trace of islamophobia unless of course you believe proselytising by christians is islamophobic. I know it is illegal is many muslim majority countries.

  21. What these Christians don’t know is that Mary Mother of Jesus has her own chapter in The Holy Qur’an. How many chapters in The Holy Bible are named after The Virgin Mary? None.

    I hope that one day the people against the mosque understand how very ignorant and pathetically silly they are being about this situation that never needed to be a situation. America is a home for all religions even the ones you know obviously know nothing at all about.

    I am not Muslim officially but I read The Holy Qur’an out of a desire to stay free of ignorance fueled hatred. Islamiphobia is as bad as homophobia in my eyes and I refuse to hate entire groups of people.

  22. “The action is clearly a racist message.”

    Putting up a cross is a racist message? Nonsense.

    As christians they probably believe the cross is a very potent symbol of their faith and they are doing this as a proselytising act towards the muslims, as they are allowed to within US and international law. As christians they will believe the message of their faith will prevail. Just as, I am sure, muslims will believe the same for the message of islam.

  23. I think putting up the crosses was a bit crazy. The locals have reacted in an extreme way to this mosque. The size of it is out of proportion to the muslims in the area.

    Several people protesting it have lived/worked in SA and other muslim places and came away with a hatred of Islam or muslims. It is they who were trying to get a US court to declare Islam not a religion. I guess it could be declared a hate group.

    Kate, The Koran, like the Bible, can be interpreted many ways.

  24. “I think putting up the crosses was a bit crazy”

    I agree but “islamophobic”, “racist”, “hate” – nope

  25. Jane, you’re just a piece of garbage who thinks you can come here and make ignorance work for you and the bigots you associate with at home, wherever that may be. You are not a Christian and wouldn’t know the meaning of the word if the Almighty came down here and explained it to you. You are simply too ignorant to be allowed your repetitious crap. I hope you are kicked off here and I hope you stay off.

  26. Robert, I am not a christian, that much is true. I am merely trying to give the view of the people the article is about. I don’t think that warrants the abuse you seem keen to dish out. I understand that to fundamentalists like you that proselytising to muslims is forbidden but in civilised countries the rule of law is more important than the rule of sky pixies. I am sure you would like me “kicked off” here because freedom of speech is anathema to you. I trust the good people who run this valuable (if occasionally misguided) site can see above your racism and hatred and allow me to continue to contribute.

  27. Some of us open-minded people come here to see what swill you and other haters post, first, for a good laugh, and then, second, a reminder of souls we need to pray for God’s mercy and forgiveness. Bury your hate!

  28. Kill the unbelievers, raidah!

  29. I am a Baptist, but there are many denominations of Baptists. I have thought hard about it and can see no reason to place 13 crosses in front of the church. When one talks about the Great Commission, one discusses the Christian obligation to spread the message of Christ to any and all people. To do that one must be approachable and display a Christian attitude, which is friendly and nonjudgmental. Not that you cannot state your belief that a act or lifestyle is against biblical teachings but that discussion and study is the best way to solve problems and mediate differences. For me, as a Christian, my question would be what do the crosses represent and how are they going to be seen by members of the community, who by scripture, we are to engage in dialog. If they are seen as a message of hate or separation, how does that help the Christians in the church fulfill their mission? Making a moral stand based upon grounded faith is expected. I do not, however, see these crosses as anything but divisive. The church would have been better off having a fellowship supper with the attendees of this mosque and left room open for the exchange of ideas and beliefs.

  30. “The church would have been better off having a fellowship supper with the attendees of this mosque and left room open for the exchange of ideas and beliefs.”

    I agree, there are many better ways for this church to reach out to muslims and others than planting a few crosses.

  31. The locals should calm down and take a wait and see attitude. Get the crosses down, quit yelling the mosque is a fort or barracks until there is evidence.

  32. raidah,

    “Some of us open-minded people come here to see what swill you and other haters post, first, for a good laugh, and then, second, a reminder of souls we need to pray for God’s mercy and forgiveness. Bury your hate!” i agree this site is always good for a good laugh. so you are open-minded? is it possible that the koran isn’t divine revelation? is it possible there is no god? btw don’t worry about praying for me. have you not read your koran? god has put a seal upon some people’s hearts. do you think your prayers can undo the will of god? so you are a muslim? so what do you think about the opening of the 24th surah? toruring people?

  33. @ anon. Please do not patronize me. I am my own human and I can read.

  34. We are all our own human and we can all read. It is what we think we read that may cause problems.

    The Koran instructs the believers to kill the unbelievers, to keep attacking them until they give up and embrace Islam. So, does that refer only to the group at that time? Or is it a blanket instruction to applied at all times and in all places as is also instructed according to some?

  35. kate,

    i’m not a muslim either. and iv’e read the koran too. so what do you think of the 24th surah, “the light”? especially the opening 3 verses?

    so if there is a book dedicated to mary, the 19th, that means what? so a book titled the “spoils of war” means what? so how do you interpret the 8th surah? do you believe in angelic intervention in the battle of badr? 8:12?

    could it not be that some muslims today would equate americans with the pagans of muhammad’s time?

    kate kate kate kate kate
    come and put your name on it
    put your name on it

    anon you get that referance?

  36. Mike, how do you even know that perverted birthday song? What the hell do you do with your days?

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