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Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Op-Ed: “Voting at Mosque Brings Issues to Light”

On November 14, 2005, The Morning Call ran a letter-to-the-editor from Peter A. Pettit, an Allentown resident, who wrote about some citizens' discomfort with a local mosque serving as a voting site. Pettit writes, "The Morning Call reported that one-third of the voters at the Whitehall Township masjid, or mosque, expressed concern at the voting site. That is a sad replay of mistaken anger and misplaced anxiety.

Our elders can remind us that Pennsylvania Germans fell under suspicion during the world wars of the 20th century. Just because the United States was at war with the German state, was it right to distrust and demean those of German descent in our Valley? Of course not!

Are not most of the worshipers at the Islamic Center American citizens? Don't they pay taxes and vote in elections and serve their communities and work productively in our shared society?

What's to worry about? They don't represent Islamic fundamentalist terrorism any more than my grandparents represented Nazism.

The American values of hospitality and equal opportunity have cultivated diversity and mutual understanding in this Valley, making it an increasingly attractive place to live and work.

When folks come to the Lehigh Valley, they become part of American culture, having invested their lives in making that choice. We owe them the same respect and dignity that we ask for ourselves.

If it seems awkward to offer that, it is only because we haven't taken the trouble to get to know our neighbors better."

This article cross-posted at the Pluralism Project's Religious Diversity News.

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