Thursday, October 07, 2010


"In the name of tolerance, I cannot allow you to speak!"

In Dearborn Michigan, a group of Christians called Acts 17 Apologetics set up a booth near a Muslim festival making copies of the gospel of John available and speaking to any people who might come by. They were surrounded by angry Muslims and dragged off to jail by the police for these actions. Their crime? Disorderly conduct, the police said, although video footage fails to show anything disorderly being done by the Christians.

They were there only because a judge had overturned a previous court ruling which said they could not set up their booth near the Muslim festival. The year before, former Muslim George Saieg was told by the police that he'd be arrested if he tried to distribute any materials to Muslims, who comprise about a third of the city's population.

The Christian missionaries got their day in court, and the jury swiftly ruled that this effort to hand out goods was protected by the first amendment, which plainly states the government shall not impinge upon freedom of religion or speech.

Here's where it gets interesting. According to Naomi R. Patton and Niraj Warikoo at the Detroit Free Press, the mayor of Dearborn considered this decision unfortunate, stating:
"It's really about a hatred of Muslims," O'Reilly said. "That is what the whole heart of this is. ... Their idea is that there is no place for Muslims in America. They fail to understand the Constitution."
"They engaged in a misrepresentation of what Dearborn really is," O'Reilly said of the four missionaries arrested.
In a five-page letter, O'Reilly wrote "The real violation of First Amendment rights occurs with Acts 17 Apologetics trying to imply they were the victim when the real violation is their attack on the City of Dearborn for having tolerance for all religions including believers in the Koran."

So men standing around peacefully handing out tracts and talking to people who engage with them is ... violating the constitution, according to the mayor of Dearborn? He prides his city in having diversity and tolerance, yet when these men came to set up a booth that isn't allowed?

The Detroit Free Press article suggests these men were disruptive and problematic, citing complaints by unnamed groups and people, but without examples. There are no actual listed incidents of misconduct by the Acts 17 Apologetics team anywhere I can find. When a group is disruptive such as the Westboro Baptist Church and its anti-gay anti-war protests, there are plenty of examples out there to be found.

In today's video age, you'd expect there to be something out there showing the problems they supposedly caused. The group has videos of themselves not being problematic but no one with all those cameras out there got any footage of these guys causing trouble? When even the ACLU gets involved in defending the Acts 17 Apologetics guys, you know there's a problem with the Dearborn city government.

At some point, America ceased being what most people would call a "Christian nation," that is, a nation which has a worldview and culture primarily informed and shaped by Christian ideals. Dearborn Michigan seems to be moving toward becoming a Muslim community with behavior of this sort.

This was originally posted on The Examiner Opinion Zone.

1 comment:

eric said...

"Dearborn Michigan seems to be moving toward becoming a Muslim community with behavior of this sort."

Isn't Dearborn also the city where one of the high schools had football practice at night during Ramadan so the Muslim players could eat after practice? If so, I think I remember reading that it has the highest concentration of Muslims in the nation, which would make sense for it to be more of a Muslim community. I don't think that's abnormal. What is abnormal is throwing people in jail for handing out religious literature, especially after a higher court had specifically overturned a ruling saying they couldn't do it. I live in a place that could be said to be a "Christian community" in the same sense that America was once a "Christian nation". If Muslims wanted to hand out literature at local community event, it would cause a lot of stink and controversy and protestation, but I am pretty confident they wouldn't get thrown in the pokey for doing so. This doesn't speak well of what it means to be a Muslim community.