December 15, 2009


Click here to read a published response to Charlie's essay.
Click here to read what Southwest Missouri is saying about this essay.
Read/Post Comments (2)

     I fail to see the logic of using a constitutional amendment to ban the construction of “Islamic mosque towers in Switzerland.” From my perspective the Swiss used a cannon to take out a flea. Does anyone seriously think that banning minarets will stop terrorism? Minarets are no more indicators of Muslim terrorist plots than steeples are indicators of Christian intolerance. There are hundreds of Christian steeples in Switzerland and only four minarets (Springfield News-Leader November 30, 2009). The Swiss over-reaction does not appear to be motivated by fear of terrorism, as Mr. Rush (Springfield News-Leader December 8, 2009) would lead us believe, but rather by a knee-jerk xenophobia (fear of the new and different). If the Swiss had reason to think that the people building minarets were also plotting terrorist action, they should more rigorously enforce the laws that civilized countries have developed already to deal with criminal behavior and terrorist activity.

     Imams want to build minarets because it is ancient mosque architecture, and they do it for the same reasons Christian ministers want their churches to have a steeple. Steeples are traditional Christian church architecture, and they are built to identify the character of the religious institution, promote the faith, and hopefully attract more members. Both Christianity and Islam are missionary religions—hence the interest in minarets and steeples as markers of their presence in the community. The call to prayer from the minaret is no more irritating to an unbiased person than is the Christian practice of church bells and Christian music played from the steeples of cathedrals, churches, and other houses of Christian worship. The proper medium for controlling or banning minarets, as well as steeples, is the fair use of planning and zoning ordinances; the proper mediums for stopping terrorism are anti-terrorist laws and aggressive law enforcement.

     Mr. Rush’s strange leap of logic would lead us to assume that Islam as a religious community “openly supports worldwide terrorism.” The truth is that Islam is as divided as Christianity. Just as it is fuzzy logic to condemn the entire religious community of Islam for the actions of its most radical and violent representatives, just so it is unfair to condemn Christianity for the actions of its most radical and violent elements. A few skeletons in the Christian closet are: the Christian Crusades in the 11th and 12th centuries; Thomas Müntzer and the Peasants Revolt in Germany in the 16th century; the Salem witch trials in Massachusetts in the 17th century; the Ku Klux Klan beginning in the late 19th century; the Army of God and the Jonestown Massacre in the twentieth century. Religion is used to justify everything from violence to the selling of popcorn and virtually every religion has its radical elements that sometimes turn violent. When it comes to radicalism, violence, and intolerance, Christianity and Islam both have skeletons in their respective closets. Or put another way people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones—as the Swiss seem to have forgotten.

Charles W. Hedrick
Professor Emeritus
Missouri State University

Posted by Charles Hedrick at 9:21am

My wife, son and I moved to Bern, CH two years ago which was before the Swiss passed the minaret measure. It was a nasty campaign. Vulgar in some ways. The propaganda posters in support were devilishly well done. As Americans the idea struck us as simply wrong in many ways. You do a great job here of identifying the 'fuzzy logic' that leads to ideological chain-reactions that are minimally 'creepy' and potentially dangerous. Martel Tignor
Posted by Martel Tignor on 1/20/2011 at 2:15pm

A great big hearty Amen echoing from the Mississippi Delta! Yea, Charlie! Enjoyed your article immensely. Love and Merry Christmas!
Posted by Grace Menhel on 12/15/2009 at 10:39pm