Posted: October 28, 2013 by James Harvey
Early Friday morning vandals tore down the fencing and signage and inflicted other damage upon the Islamic Society of Delaware (ISD). Any attack on the property of our neighbors is an offense to the whole community. Worse yet, the vandals fashioned some of the debris into a cross and left it in the ground. I was born and reared in the Southeastern United States, and the use of the cross as a sign of terror and intimidation is especially repugnant to me. I am sure that our Muslim neighbors make every effort to separate this profane use of the cross from the Christians that they know in the community. Nevertheless, it is incumbent upon Christian leaders to make clear that this act of violence is contrary to the teaching of Christ, who summarized the law and the prophets by saying that we are to love God and neighbor. We cannot assume that our Muslim neighbors know our thoughts, much less our feelings. We are to love Muslims from the heart, not because we share the same faith, but because they are human being created in God's image. We labor for the common good of our community with them, a common good which entails freedom of religion and justice for all. As Christians, we do not believe that we can mistreat someone because of their religion (or for their ethnicity, nationality, or any other reason). If these vandals were members of our church, they would be asked by the elders to repent (i.e., turn away from) of their sin. Biblical repentance would show genuine sorrow for that what they have done, would entail a sincere apology to the members of the Islamic Society of Delaware, and would also entail paying for the damage. If they refused to repent of this sin, then the elders would cast them out of the fellowship. They would be forbidden to partake of the Lord's Supper with us. The intent of this action would be to declare to them that the church doesn't believe that they genuinely know Jesus Christ. The church would formally regard them as unbelievers. Furthermore, such action the part of the church would not serve to circumvent the role of the state. God has appointed the church and the state as sovereign spheres of government in human affairs. Repentant or not, these perpetrators would still be subject to whatever justice the state would find appropriate.
Over the weekend we had a large dinner at church. I shared what happened at ISD and the email that I received from one of their leaders. The whole room was shocked and grieved. That evening men from our church with carpentry skills offered to help rebuild the signage at the ISD. The ISD leadership has graciously received our offer and will factor it into their plans to repair the damage. We know that the ISD has many capable hands in their own organization. Nevertheless, our offer is sincere and at least they know that we are willing to help them. Below is a link 6abc.com's video report of the incident.