Someone left an image of the crucified Jesus Christ outside a mosque in New York and now the police are investigating it as a possible “bias incident” (i.e. a hate crime).
There are a number of things which make this news story interesting.
First, the mere fact that an image of Jesus left at a mosque is considered a hate crime is indicative of the increasing hostility to Christ in this country. The police do not know who left the image or why. In fact, the people at the mosque have stated that they do not consider it offensive. Instead, the self-appointed guardians of “fairness” and “inclusion” have decided that the image of Jesus Christ is offensive.
Second, it brings to the forefront that the religious differences between Islam and Christianity are centered on just who Jesus Christ is. Indeed, Muslims consider Jesus to be a prophet (and therefore are not offended by the image left at the mosque). A quote in the original article from the NY chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) states: “Bias may have motivated this incident, but it could serve as a teaching moment for the perpetrator and for the community if it leads to greater understanding of the love Muslims have for Jesus, peace be upon him.”
However, Christians believe that Jesus is more than a prophet. He is “the Christ, the Son of the living God” (cf. Matthew 16:13-20). In fact, Christians believe that Christ is the Second Person of the Holy Trinity of Father, Son, Holy Spirit. He is the Word spoken by the Father in Genesis to create all things and who became flesh for our salvation (cf. John 1:1ff). In contrast, Islam rejects the Trinity and the divine nature of Christ.
Third, have we regressed so far as a culture that images or ideas with which we may disagree cause us to invoke the police power of the state to remove these from our presence? I know the answer is, sadly, “yes.” If the state can force a person to perform work they don’t want to do (see the article about the Christian baker), then it also has the power to control speech and other forms of free expression.
Finally, at what point does the proclamation of the Christian Gospel itself become a “bias incident” and a hate crime? Other countries are already headed down this path (e.g. Canadian and UK examples). Will America follow? Will the Church rise to the occasion to maintain the truth of its witness to God’s Word?