Recent Guest Column Journal West


I’ll have to admit, reading that a Hindu Temple was coming to Clemmons was a bit of a culture shock.

However, the announcement did provide a much-needed distraction given the recent roughhousing around the library site.

I wasn’t prepared for the next news that their sign had been shot up. In case you have not heard, the Om Hindu Organization of North Carolina is planning to build a 3,600-square-foot temple at 8535 Lasater Road in Clemmons.

“About 500 Indian families live in Forsyth County, with several in the Clemmons, Lewisville and Pfafftown area. The temple’s location will be convenient for many local Hindus,” Manujunath Shamanna, a member of the board of directors, told Journal West.

What disturbed me more than the fact that a religious organization would have its sign shot up were the comments at the Winston-Journal’s online site. Did someone really imply that only Christians should be allowed to live in Clemmons? Worse yet, perhaps, was the stereotyping of others as “rednecks living in the area.”

Really?

Can we just lay down our fears, live out our own values and yes, love our fellow man? Perhaps we could even get to know each other. Christians should be the most inclusive, inviting people on the globe, given the nature of Christ.

Many conclude that we are no longer a Christian nation. Even some church professionals are using language like “post-Christian” in their recommendations for new approaches in the marketplace.

As a Christ follower, the rules are simple for me: Love God with all your heart and your neighbor as yourself. Not the neighbor that thinks like you, worships like you, or looks like you … just love your neighbor.

Given the scores of professionals that annually come to these shores, should we not have been better prepared for pluralism? Wait, wasn’t that how we began, a nation that offered religious freedom?

With the newly emerging economy, and the commercialization of biotech research coming out of Wake Forest Baptist Health and Innovation Quarter, we will continue to attract representatives of multiple cultures desiring to live in the Village of Clemmons.

Guess I should not have been surprised by a Hindu Temple.

“We as American people are fighting hate, standing up to promote tolerance, respect and inclusion. We have no doubts that in the long run we will be able to practice our religion and live peacefully in this region and work towards a pluralistic society,” the Om Hindu Society said in a news release.

What a demonstration of grace.

I was again reminded of the grief, healing and love poured out by the dear saints and families who suffered the tragedy in Charleston. Their response is the kind of behavior we need to be about as a nation and as the people of God — love in the face of hate! That is Christianity at its best, though again not without great price.

A couple years back as mayor, I met with the Moroccan-born Imam at the Annoor Islamic Center in Clemmons. I found him to be delightful. Then later, when invited to a feast on the grounds, I met a Muslim contractor who was quite helpful and accommodating when we discussed a possible new building for my daughter. Those relationships still stand.

Maybe we just need to share life more often, rather than remaining in silos, in our numerous worship centers.

The Rev. Christopher Burcham, pastor at Union Hill Baptist, deserves quoting once more: “Though we believe Jesus offers the only path to eternal life, we understand that the entire Hindu culture is one of great respect,” Burcham told the Journal. “We believe that Christ calls us to the same respect. As followers of Christ, we would defend their right to practice their faith just as freely (and) without harassment as we would our own.”

This is America, land of the free. Perhaps we need simply to begin living our Christian values, rather than being so quick to criticize those who worship differently.

Love has a way!

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