How prayers to God are dividing a local community.

This is a story that I’ve been following since it first started to develop a week or so ago and considering that today is the annual “National Day of Prayer” I thought it would be apropos to talk about it. It concerns a relatively well-known city in the Metro Detroit area called Hamtramck and how a changing population has led to a clash of religious cultures. Outside of Michigan Hamtramck is known for two particular traits: 1) it’s literally a city inside a city in the sense that it is surrounded on all sides by the city of Detroit (as is Highland Park) and 2) it’s traditionally a Polish enclave. Over the last ten years, however, there has been a ten fold increase in the city’s Asian population and these immigrants have brought their Muslim beliefs with them. For the most part the largely Catholic white citizens have managed to get along pretty well with the growing Muslim population in their midst, or at least they’ve managed to hide their resentment of the newcomers up until recently, but simmering tensions finally boiled over due to a request to the city council by the al-Islah Islamic Center for permission to broadcast the Islamic call to prayer over outdoor loudspeakers for about two minutes five times a day. Suddenly the resentment and bigotry came to the surface:

They can believe whatever they want to, but IӒm against them pushing their content into my head like brainwashing, said Joanne Golen, 68, a lifelong Hamtramck resident. ԓThere are seven mosques in the city, and Ill be in the middle of all of them.Ҕ … Though the calls to worship are in Arabic, Golen said shes offended by words that praise Allah. ғHes not my true God,Ҕ Golen said. I canӒt stay locked in my house with cotton in my ears every time they do it. … “It says Allah is the one and only God. I am Christian. My God is Jesus Christ. That is my only objection—that I have to listen to a God other than the one I believe in praised five times a day.”—Detroit News

Oh how terrible it is to be exposed to religious traditions outside of your own! Keep in mind that Hamtramck has many Christian churches several of which ring bells for various reasons throughout the day. The Muslims argue that the call to prayer is the same as the ringing of church bells and have agreed to conditions prohibiting them from broadcasting the call to prayer before 6AM or after 10PM. This isn’t without precedent in Michigan as Dearborn has a very large Muslim population and for the last 15 years the American Muslim Society’s mosque has broadcast daily prayers there, though it is true that most mosques in America keep their broadcasts indoors if the neighborhood isn’t largely Muslim. While the city council weighed the issue upset Christians didn’t sit idly by waiting to see what the decision would be. Petitions were circulated and lawsuits were threatened though most legal scholars don’t think there’s much that can be done about it. Technically the mosque didn’t even need to ask permission under the law as it stands, but they did so out of a sense of being a good neighbor. This is what they get for trying to be polite:

ԓIve made friends. I go to their weddings. (But) weҒre losing our tradition and Im getting mad,Ҕ Alice Dembowski said. If theyӒre going to live in America, why cant they be more American?Ҕ—Detroit News.

Jackie Rutherford, a librarian and youth-care worker, sat on her front stoop watching three men in Islamic shirt-dresses and tupi caps at the house across the street. “I don’t know what’s going to happen to our little town,” said Ms. Rutherford, 39.

“I used to say I wasn’t prejudiced against anyone, but then I realized I had a problem with them putting Allah above everyone else,” she said, of the plan to amplify the call to prayer, which mosques announce five times a day. “It’s throwing salt in a wound. I feel they’ve come to our country, infiltrated it, and they sit there looking at us, laughing, calling us fools.”—New York Times

A number of citizens have shown their ignorance of what their Constitutional rights are in this issue:

“My main objection is simple,” she said. “I don’t want to be told that Allah is the true and only God five times a day, 365 days a year. It’s against my constitutional rights to have to listen to another religion evangelize in my ear.”—Joanne Golen

“Everyone talks about their rights. The rights of Christians have been stripped from them. Last week there were Muslims praying downstairs, in a public building. If Christians tried to do that, the A.C.L.U. would shut us down.”—Chuck Schultz
Call to Prayer in Michigan Causes TensionNew York Times

“Where are my rights? Where are the rights of all the people who have lived in this community all of their lives? I do not have a choice as to whether I hear this or not.”—Mary Urbanski Hamtramck prayer OK prompts outrage

There’s nothing in the Constitution that says you never have to listen to another religion evangelize to you (which the call to prayer doesn’t do anyway). If there was I would have invoked it against all the idiots who keep trying to convert me to Christianity a long time ago. Nor would the ACLU shut your Christian group down simply for making use of a public building as long as it wasn’t as a result of government support. And, no, you don’t have a choice as to whether you hear the call to prayer or not. Just like the Muslims don’t have a choice on hearing the Christian church bells chime on the hour, every hour, every day. You people need to get a friggin’ clue.

On Tuesday the Hamtramck city council unanimously approved the amendment to the noise ordinance giving an official blessing, if you’ll pardon the pun, for the broadcasts to begin next week. Needless to say the Catholic opponents are outraged and have vowed that this isn’t the end of the issue.

The Hamtramck City Council’s unanimous approval Tuesday night of a plan to allow the Muslim call to prayer to be broadcast on loudspeakers five times a day in Arabic has outraged many of the city’s Polish Catholic residents.

They said they’ll start a petition drive to bring the issue to a vote. Others have said they’ll file lawsuits in federal court. Some plan to move.

“I’d hate to see it go this route, but unfortunately, it’s going to go this route,” said resident Robert Zwolak.—

I must say, though, that the award for most undisguised bigotry combined with being totally clueless has to go to this woman:

Maria Radtke, a Polish immigrant who fled a Europe devastated by World War II, said Tuesday that it irks her that Muslims don’t seem to be trying to fit into American culture the way she did when she first came to the United States.

“When you come to this country . . . adjust to the customs and beliefs of this country. I respect their religion. I respect their faith. But you cannot wear this on your sleeve.

“Fifty-two years ago when I came to this country, every nationality lived in their own community, and really, it was peaceful. And now politicians made a melting pot where you can live anywhere you want. That made a disaster.”—Detroit Free Press

Can you believe that? In this day and age someone is actually complaining that in America you have the freedom to live anywhere you want. Damn those politicians and their promotion of diversity! Now she has to be exposed to cultures and beliefs that are different from her own! In the minds of these people this is the same as being told their beliefs are wrong and they seriously think they have some Constitutional right not to be told they are wrong. All the Muslims want is to be treated fairly and to enjoy the same privilege already granted to their Christian neighbors. Not every Christian in Hamtramck is opposed to this and many agree with their Muslim counterparts, but the amount of opposition is still impressive.

On this “National Day of Prayer” we’ll be told repeatedly that prayer is always a good thing and should be engaged in daily. That people of all faiths should come together and pray for the blessings from whatever concept of God(s) they may have to be bestowed upon our country, our communities and our families. We will hear of countless stories where the power of prayer has righted some wrong or cured some incurable disease or turned someone’s life around and we’ll be encouraged to make daily prayer a habit because it’s always a good thing. Yet here in Michigan we have a perfect example of just how a daily prayer can cause as much harm as good and can bring hidden prejudices and fears to the surface. It reveals just how poorly many Americans understand what their rights are and just how selfish they can be in allowing others to enjoy the same freedoms and privileges they claim for themselves. Not to mention how little they understand the teachings of their own religion.

58 thoughts on “How prayers to God are dividing a local community.

  1. I realized that I should ammend my previous post.  There are some differences between the three Abrahamic religions, but they are fairly insubstantial.  If you take Judaism as the standard.  Christian doctrine is different in that it accepts the a trinitarian model of divinity (which isn’t accepted by either of the other Abrahamic religions), and it accepts the divinity of Jesus (whom the other two Abrahamic religions see as a prophet, though Muslims also hold that Jesus resulted from an immaculate conception.  I think Jews are agnostic on this issue).  Islam is different in that it accepts the prophethood of Mohammed and requires more prayer than the other two. 

    Now there are further minor sectarian/denominational differences, but they really are more disagreements about ritual than doctrine.  I think that about clarifies what I wanted to say.

  2. I would NEVER have said that the new testament “corrects” the old testament.  I believe I said that it is part of a continuing story.

  3. I didn’t intend to insult anyone’s intelligence.  I don’t think ignorance is related to intelligence, so I didn’t consider it that way.  Just because you don’t know what some Christians think since you’ve mostly heard from wackos doesn’t mean your thought processes function any worse.  Well, I can see the problem there, GeekMom. It would seem Christians still have free will.  But I’ll continue to call my beliefs Christian because they flow out of my relationship with God through Jesus.  Although I don’t assume that means all other Christians agree with me on everything.  Just because a relationship is different from other relationships doesn’t mean it isn’t a relationship.  Well, once again, sorry it’s kind of off topic so I’ll direct any further interest to my post in the proselytizing section.

  4. while I agree there seems to be a lot of racism going on in that town;
      a lot of people who complain that Christianity is being forced down their throats etc… don’t realize if it wasn’t for a desire to worship God, there would of been no America, we would of stayed part of England. basically 80% of the founding fathers were believers. So just to keep that in mind when your so inconvenienced by the Christian rhetoric, be glad because you could be living in Russia, or Poland, or Iran right now.

    And if thats too raw of a deal for you maybye you should be living somewhere else.————————————————————

    Also those of you who think Muslim religion is the coolest thing since sliced bread read between the lines where the bible tells you the most important of all is love, islam tells you that if someone doesnt want to convert, you should kill them. And that you can abuse, and kill your wife for no apparent reason. ————————————————————

    Sorry to sound gruff, but everyone here seems to be a lot of crybabies that seem so intelligent.,but cant handle the fact that they may need to be accountable someday to a creator.
    If god is no unnessary then why have you spent countless hours and hours on this site trying to convince yourselves he isnt real ? You probably spent more time here than doing “Real” things….

  5. Here we go again.

    while I agree there seems to be a lot of racism going on in that town;

    First the standard disclaimer so they can go off topic without seeming like they have…

    a lot of people who complain that Christianity is being forced down their throats etc… don’t realize if it wasn’t for a desire to worship God, there would of been no America, we would of stayed part of England.

    Not true at all. Yes, some of the folks who came to The New World did so to escape religious persecution back home, but that wasn’t the sole reason nor the majority reason. It also wasn’t a primary factor in the decision to revolt and become our own country. Politics, not religion, was one of the primary factors that brought about the American Revolution. You need to study up on your history a bit more.

    basically 80% of the founding fathers were believers. So just to keep that in mind when your so inconvenienced by the Christian rhetoric, be glad because you could be living in Russia, or Poland, or Iran right now.

    While 80% of the Founding Fathers may have been believers, they weren’t necessarily Christians. Quite a few of them, including most of the big names we read about all the time in our history books, were Deists and not Christians at all. Even Jefferson—who did consider himself a Christian—held beliefs that he admitted made him the sole member of his particular Christian sect. For example, he rejected the idea that Christ was literally God made flesh or that any of the miracles reported in the Bible actually happened. Again, you should study up a bit more on your history.

    And if thats too raw of a deal for you maybye you should be living somewhere else.

    The same could be said of you in reverse: If you’re not happy with our attempts to keep the religious sphere and the government sphere separate from one another as the Founding Fathers had intended them to be then perhaps you should move to another country where such intermingling is not only permitted, but enforced such as, say, Iran.

    Also those of you who think Muslim religion is the coolest thing since sliced bread read between the lines where the bible tells you the most important of all is love, islam tells you that if someone doesnt want to convert, you should kill them. And that you can abuse, and kill your wife for no apparent reason.

    I think the Muslim religion is just as silly as the Christian religion and you really shouldn’t criticize one if you’re not all that familiar with your own. Try reading your Bible a bit more and you’ll find that it also has rules that allow for the killing of folks who don’t wish to convert and also pretty much turns your wife into a bit of property. You do recall that the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition and others were all justified by various aspects of the Bible, yes?

    Sorry to sound gruff, but everyone here seems to be a lot of crybabies that seem so intelligent.,but cant handle the fact that they may need to be accountable someday to a creator.

    You don’t sound gruff, you sound uninformed and ignorant not only of others, but your own history and religion. You know just enough to make you feel like you’re prepared to have an argument, but your cluelessness is apparent to anyone who has done the studying.

    If god is no unnessary then why have you spent countless hours and hours on this site trying to convince yourselves he isnt real ? You probably spent more time here than doing “Real

  6. Well, I guess I hit a nerve since youve quoted everything i said…

    Im sure anyone who believes in god is automatically an idiot and um studied in this group youve apparently made your own history up in your minds.

    Im not here to argue just wanted to try to open your eyes, but I guess thats too much for this one sided community. do some research and youll find what Ive said to be true, take things out of context and youll get basically your response.

    It is between you and god, and one day the truth will speak for itself when you stand before him.

    but hey its your constitutional right and privilege to go to hell and waste your life living for nothing….

  7. Well, I guess I hit a nerve since youve quoted everything i said…

    Nope, you didn’t hit a nerve. You just bleated out the same nonsense we’ve heard time and again here at SEB. It’s like you’re part of a little clone army or something. I quoted everything you said so I could address it point by point.

    Im sure anyone who believes in god is automatically an idiot and um studied in this group youve apparently made your own history up in your minds.

    Not at all. There are a number of people who believe in God(s) that I think are far from being idiotic. Mainly because they don’t allow their belief in a supreme being to get in the way of their ability to reason and think for themselves. Their belief in God is an enhancement of their lives, not a substitution for their own sense of personal responsibility or an excuse not to use the grey matter between their ears. I can name several of them and, in fact, have in various other entries throughout this blog.

    As for making up my own history, funny, that’s what I’d accuse you of doing. I’m a big history buff and I’ve spent quite a bit of time reading up on various aspects of American history including the faiths and intentions of our Founding Fathers. One excellent source you might consider reading is the book Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism by Susan Jacoby. But then I suspect you’re not really interested in improving your knowledge of history unless it supports your existing point of view.

    Im not here to argue just wanted to try to open your eyes, but I guess thats too much for this one sided community. do some research and youll find what Ive said to be true, take things out of context and youll get basically your response.

    If you’re only here to preach then go away. I’m happy to discuss the facts and issues with you if that’s your intent. However, your attempts at conversion are not only laughable, but unappreciated. The only eyes that need to be opened around here are yours. I’ve done the research and you’re wrong. If you have new evidence to support your claims that hasn’t been covered already amongst the hundreds of threads on this topic in the archives here then I’d be happy to hear it. Instead you appear to have nothing more to present than to show up and do a little preaching and now you’re going to run away all the while shouting out how “someday the truth will become apparent, but then it’ll be too late” like all the other little clones who show up here.

    It is between you and god, and one day the truth will speak for itself when you stand before him.

    See? Just like I predicted. You’ll excuse me if it’s hard for me to worry about being judged by God(s) I don’t believe exist. That’s just as silly as you staying awake at night worrying about whether or not Santa has you on his naughty or nice list. But then, for all I know, you might sit around worrying about that as well.

    but hey its your constitutional right and privilege to go to hell and waste your life living for nothing….

    Last I checked the Constitution’s Bill of Rights doesn’t have anything in it about going to Hell. This pretty much cements your cluelessness. Clearly you did want to demonstrate your ignorance further.

  8. Well, I guess I hit a nerve since youve quoted everything i said…

    Don’t flatter yourself, Dave. Most people who come here and say a bunch of stupid things all at once get quoted. It’s our way of pointing at you and snickering.

    Im not here to argue just wanted to try to open your eyes…

    Is that the best you’ve got? If your god hires idiots to speak for him, what does that say about your god? Go back to Bible School. You suck at this opening of eyes stuff.

    It is between you and god, and one day the truth will speak for itself when you stand before him.

    If you truly believed it was between Les and a god, you wouldn’t have said anything. Apparently you think it’s between YOU, God and Les. What’s the matter: Too little power to back up your by proxy threats?

    Who the fuck died and made all these people bosses and experts of the fates of others?…Oh, right!

    Got any proof?

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