Religious buildings can be, and usually are, regarded in a very 'tribal' and territorial way. Yet at its heart, the religious impulse (if it is to be saved from the destruction its distortion can so easily produce) is about discovering the universality of the divine in the midst of our particularities.
The US Muslim leader at the centre of the recent storm over plans to build an Islamic community centre near Ground Zero in New York is arriving in Britain tomorrow and giving a series of talks and interviews in Scotland.
As part of an ill-tempered debate, some say that there should be no mosque in Park Place, New York, until there are churches and synagogues in Saudi Arabia, says Martin Marty As another thoughtful commentator remarked, this amounts to saying, "Until they are like us, we will be like them."
Every religion has their bad apples; entire orchards can become diseased, says Massachusetts Bible Society chief executive Anne Robertson. That's why we need to encourage and discover faithful living. As for the Islamic Cultural Center near Ground Zero, this will be a test of living together, she suggests.