Cookeville is a beautiful city filled with wonderful, kind, caring, and loving people. We come in all colors, races, religions, nationalities, and cultures. As individuals, we may have our differences, especially in beliefs, but we basically get along peacefully with our neighbors.
As everyone knows, we recently got hit by a disastrous storm that took down trees, power lines, and caused destruction to vehicles and homes. Fortunately, no one was hurt. Afterwards, neighbors checked on neighbors and strangers checked on strangers to make sure everyone was okay. People are coming together to support each other and to help clean up wherever needed. This is the Cookeville that I believe in.
On one side of the city stands a huge, white cross. Regardless of how you feel about it, I am assuming this church means for it to stand for the love of God and Jesus. Unfortunately, I recently learned that we have another sign somewhere in Cookeville that has been making national and international news and is paid for by the TN Pastors Network. The sign reads, “Why Support President’s Immigration Ban? 19 Muslim Immigrants Killed 2,977 Americans 9/11.” This sign does NOT represent me or many of us in Cookeville, yet sadly, it will reflect on our great city, and I don’t believe that’s who we are.
As of 2015, there were approximately 3.3 million Muslims of all ages in America living here in peace (about 1% of the U.S. population). There are also approximately 4,000 Muslims in our military fighting for our country to save Americans and other lives. Muslims around the world are speaking out against terrorism. And yet some people hold the actions of a few against the whole religion. When a non-Muslim commits a heinous crime, we don’t ask about his religion. And if they happen to be Christian, we don’t hold it against all Christians (or other religions).
Time magazine reported that according to the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security based on surveys of 382 law enforcement groups, “Law enforcement agencies in the United States consider anti-government violent extremists, not radicalized Muslims, to be the most severe threat of political violence that they face.” Why aren’t we speaking out against these groups, especially when many in these groups profess to be Christian?
We wonder why so many are turning their backs on God, religion (particularly Christianity), and church, and yet it’s because for many, they are seeing the hypocrisy of what some religious leaders are saying and doing, when in fact, Jesus spoke of love, compassion, and kindness. Jesus never stood for hate. He stood only for love.
"No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin or his background or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite." Nelson Mandela
Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen newspaper June 2, 2017.