AS someone who feels very proud to call Dudley their home town, I have found it extremely hard over the last few years to comprehend the place I love has been consumed with the mosque plans and seduced by the scaremongering of certain politicians.
I do not doubt for one minute that our town will lose any of its identity if the mosque is built. Is it so hard for people to imagine that it is possible to have a castle, St George’s flags, Top Church and a mosque and still be Dudley?
The sheer level of animosity surrounding what is essentially a call by one of our communities to have their own purpose-built place is quite frightening.
As the story begins to infiltrate into the national media, one can only wonder how our town is coming across to the rest of the British public if not, I would suggest, as a place of intolerance, anger and one not prepared to fight for equality.
I also write as a practicing Christian who, unlike many Christians who have sent letters to the Dudley News, does not see the new mosque as a threat.
If these are active members of churches, surely they recognise how important it is for them to have a place to worship their God – the same is true for Muslims.
They would also be able to empathise to some extent with British Muslims and the prejudice they face as a religious community.
In today’s society, Christianity is regularly misinterpretated and demonised and Christians know how frustrating it can be when your religion is misunderstood.
I suspect, however, that many of these letter writers are not practising Christians and are merely using arguments such as “Dudley is a Christian town” and “Church X is a wonderful building, why do we need a Mosque?” for effect, otherwise our churches would be overflowing.
I would encourage those people to actually attend the churches they use to justify their anti-mosque position. Then perhaps they would be aware of the many challenges facing Christian churches in our town, including property and redevelopment issues which affect all religions.
More importantly, they would also hear Jesus’ message of compassion and love and feel a sense of duty to fight injustice in our town and the wider world.
Just imagine if all the enthusiasm and time that has gone into letters and petitions over one building were used instead to challenge local government on real issues, for example making our own town safer, greener and with more provision for its young people and the elderly.
I am sure the mosque debate will rumble on, fuelled by a minority wanting to stir up more anger and divisions. I just hope the image of our town has not been tainted too much by this whole saga because Dudley deserves better.
SARAH MILLS Dudley