A billboard in Perrysburg proclaims the message, “Love Your Muslim Neighbors.” The Washington, D.C.-based Christian organization Sojourners paid for the billboard with donations from their supporters.
The billboard is in response to the arson fire that was set at the Islamic Center of Greater Toledo last month. The FBI has filed hate-crime charges against the suspect, Randolph Linn, 52, of St. Joe, Ind.
Sojourners has put up similar billboards in other cities where religious hate crimes occurred, including Oak Creek, Wis., where the sign says, “Love Your Sikh Neighbors.”
Sojourners has been around for more than 40 years. The organization has a history of advocacy for the poor and the oppressed. With strong evangelical roots, it has a commitment to social justice that also gives it an appeal with progressives. This most recent campaign to make a public witness to love our neighbors of all religions is an important one.
We live in a country founded on the value of religious freedom. However, there is a strong sentiment among many Christians that we are a Christian nation and that Christianity is superior to other religions. As our country becomes more diverse racially, culturally and religiously, those of us who call ourselves Christians are being challenged. Will we love all our neighbors? Will we respect the religious practices of all our neighbors?
As we approach tomorrow’s presidential election, I cannot help but wonder how long it will be before we will elect a qualified non-Christian as President? There has been outrage that Barack Obama might be a Muslim. Of course, he is not. He is a Christian. But if a man or woman were a Muslim, or a Jew, or a Buddhist, and were running for president as a qualified candidate, why should that be an issue?
I am a Christian. I follow Jesus. And Jesus said, Love your neighbors, all of them. I think Jesus would also say that if your neighbor is qualified to run for president and shares your values, then you should vote for him (or her).