Written by Don Byrd
Pastor Travis Norvell of Judson Memorial Baptist Church in Minneapolis responded powerfully to the attack on the Bloomington Islamic Center in a column in yesterday’s Minneapolis Star-Tribune. Norvell explained well the Baptist tradition in early America of demanding liberty of conscience, “not just for those with whom they agreed but for all.”
The act of terror peretrated on the Islamic Center last week, he argued, “was not just an attack on one center of worship, but an attack on the foundations of America.”
Here is an excerpt:
When members of one religious group are terrorized because of their faith practices, they experience what [Rhode Island founder Roger] Williams called “soul rape.” The trauma experienced by the Dar Al Farooq Islamic community and others is unacceptable.
In the Rhode Island charter, approved by King Charles II in 1663, we find the audacious phrase “to hold forth a lively experiment.” If we allow the act of terror upon our Muslim brothers and sisters to go unchallenged, then the lively experiment in religious liberty is over. If we accept the act of terror as part of life in our nation, then the lively experiment is null and void.
Pastor Norvell places early Baptists in an important and timely context. They fought for religious liberty for all, because they knew that any time anyone’s religious freedom can be curtailed, everyone’s religious liberty is in jeopardy. All should be able to worship free from fear. And while the government must do everything it can to protect that freedom, as Norvell says, “[i]t is our responsibility as citizens of this land to preserve and defend the American way of religious liberty.”
Read the whole thing.