Religious freedom is of utmost importance to us as Christians, but it is also important to other religious communities as well, and we have seen these diverse communities working together to defend that right across the United States.
For instance, in New Jersey, the Islamic Society of Basking Ridge brought a case regarding the construction of a mosque. They wanted to build a house of worship, but the town did not want them and was trying to prohibit the construction of that building. Clearly, this is a religious liberty issue, and many organizations came on board in support of this lawsuit. The National Association of Evangelicals, the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention and many other organizations signed on as amici curiae in this case because they understood that this was an area of common ground. This is not limited to the local community, but I think it illustrates the type of attitude we need to have in our immediate vicinity as well.
As Christians, we have several major disagreements with Muslims. Muslims deny the deity of Jesus Christ; that is a big deal. There is literally no way to reconcile a Muslim conception of Jesus Christ with the Christian conception of Jesus Christ. He cannot simultaneously be God and not God. I think that Muslims are tragically wrong in this area
However, coming together to defend religious liberty does not require an agreement on the person of Jesus Christ. Religious liberty is the common ground that we both want and therefore should work together to support. Now, there are Christians that want only religious liberty for Christians and Muslims that want only religious liberty for Muslims; I don’t count myself as one of them. I believe that having religious liberty allows people to make their own choice on these eternally significant issues, and as I have said many times before, I do think that in a free marketplace of ideas, the truth is going to rise to the top. If Christianity is true, then I am certainly not afraid of allowing robust religious freedom. In fact, if my hypothesis is right, then the freer we are religiously, the more people that are going to come to Jesus Christ.
Obviously, Muslims who defend religious liberty are not going to agree with what I said above. They are going to believe that freedom will lead people naturally to Islam. Again, we find another area of contention, but we both want the same thing. We both want the ability to have religious freedom. We can work together on that.
However, clearly that was not the case for the Christians and Muslims in this court case. They understood that even though they did not agree on everything and were basically arguing for the freedom to be allowed to publicly disagree with each other, they came together for the purposes of that freedom. This is community in action, and this is also a good thing.