Recently the Bendigo Council approved (by a majority vote) the plans to build a mosque in Bendigo, the “rural city” I live in. Now, I’m not sure where exactly the proposed building site is, but I’m pretty sure it’s in an outer suburb, not right up close to the CBD or anything. There have been several write-ups in our local paper about it, ‘the issue’ of building a mosque in Bendigo. I fail to see how it is such a horrible idea, or such a controversial issue.
I for one am all for it – we have a Buddhist Stupa (sp?) and like 16 churches of various Christian denominations – as long as the muslims abide by the laws of our state & country, why not let them have their own place of worship? I WISH we Pagans had a temple or similar building structure that we could congregate in – yes, we have the parks and patches of bush around Bendigo which can (and does) serve the whole “Nature is my church” side of it, but it would be nice to have a formal building out of the rain or storms, or somewhere to gather and enlighten any non-Pagans who have questions about our paths.
I had a wonderful, friendly conversation recently at the Melbourne MBS Festival with a Muslim man, and to tell the truth he was a lot friendlier than a lot of non-Muslims I have met. I simply don’t see why allowing them the same privilege many Buddhist, Christian, Greek Orthodox, Uniting Church, etc followers enjoy in our town is a bad thing? As long as secular law is upheld, why do people care if there is a building for the worship of this god or that one?
I’m not completely ignorant, I know that horrible twisted things have happened in the name of Islam (and in that of the Islamic God, Allah) – but Christians, Celts, hell, just about EVERY religion has extremist followers who do terrible things in their belief of what is permissible – or even asked for – by the divine.
There are also many, many aspects of religion (and religious people) that are good – the community service, the traditions and ceremonies that build close-knit families and communities, the opportunities to study and research our own path toward enlightenment, building a strong foundation upon which to build our ethics, morals, and values.
I just don’t get it.