Discussing
Mosque Near Ground Zero? Why Not?

Nathan Bierma

Zach
August 5, 2010

In Israel Muslims have strategically purchased (or politically maneuvered for) land and erected Mosques next to every biblically historical sight. The goal is to plant a mosque that is so large that it will be included in any photo of the landmark or landscape. It seems that the idea is the same here. Wait and see if this doesn't happen in other significant places that are hit by terrorist or where culture clashes occur with Islam. The result is a land war waged to erect the largest structure in order to blind people to the other religion’s building. <br><br>I’m not suggesting a solution, simply stating that the issue is larger than it appears. <br><br>

Khamneithang
August 5, 2010

That line of thinking will not work. How long will Christians pursue a policy of appeasement? And to what result?<br>It has proved to be so disastrous. America must wake up, and fast!

Printenv
August 5, 2010

I agree with the author of the post with the disaproval of religious buildings or items on public lands/property.<br><br>Most of the complaints and cries of foul strike me as xenophobia that Americans have historically displayed throughout our wonderful history. <br><br>Take a look at the prison camps for our Japanese citizens during WW2; McCarthy's pursuits against supposed communist sympathizers; the stripping of habeas corpus; pulling out of the Geneva Convention and the list goes on. <br><br>We (the USA) are wonderful and being a reactionary society who doesn't care who it will step on when something is different and oh so scary.<br><br>Opposition to the mosque for the reasons given by Palin and others of the same ilk done with either a perverted motivation (either using it as a means for attention and money), xenophobic, or both.<br><br>Opposition to the mosque for the reasons given by Palin and others of the same ilk done with either a perverted motivation (either using it as a means for attention and money) or just plain xenophobic.

JCarpenter
August 5, 2010

I'm not so sure memorializing "Ground Zero" is a good thing. For what purpose? As a cemetary, a mass grave for those whose remains were never found and have become part of the cityscape, perhaps. <br>As a rallying point for patriotism? For Christian-culture-America? I have trouble with that. The police and firefighters who died to save lives did not so waving flags, they did so to rescue fellow human beings in peril, in automatic response to their training.<br>How many blocks away from "sacred ground" does the mosque/Islamic center need to be? How many secular businesses, those promoting America's other religion of enterprise and wealth, must act as the buffer inbetween the mosque and Ground Zero? <br>NYC's Mayor Bloomburg had excellent remarks on the issue---did I miss 2001's Mayor Giuliani's comments?

Rickd
August 5, 2010

Nathan, you can’t be serious. Is this really a building devoted to a religion that many Americans and millions around the world practice peacefully? Islamic law enshrines the worst kind of abuse of women, homosexuals, Christians, Jews and non-muslims. Where are these peaceful Muslims? Their xenophobia, hatred and abuse of Christians, Jews and non-muslims is enshrined in their Holy Book which is memorized word for word and chanted everyday by faithful muslims. Here are a few quotes. These are the tame ones;<br><br>Believers, take neither the Jews nor the Christians for your friends. They are friends with one another. Whoever of you seeks their friendship shall become one of their number. Allah does not guide the wrongdoers. Sura 5:51<br><br>Those that make war against Allah and His apostle and spread disorder in the land shall be slain or crucified or have their hands and feet cut off on alternate sides, or be banished from the land. They shall be held up to shame in this world and sternly punished in the hereafter: except those that repent before you reduce them. For you must know that Allah is forgiving and merciful. 5:33-34<br><br>Men have authority over women because Allah has made the one superior to the other, and because they spend their wealth to maintain the. Good women are obedient. They guard their unseen parts because Allah has guarded them. As for those from whom you fear disobedience, admonish them and send them to beds apart and beat them. Then if they disobey you, take no further action against them. Surely God is high, supreme. Sura 4:34<br><br>Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued. (9:29 Jizya is the money that non-Muslims must pay to their Muslim overlords in a pure Islamic state.)<br><br>The Jews call Ezra a son of Allah, and the Christians call Christ the son of Allah. That is a saying from their mouth; (in this) they but imitate what the unbelievers of old used to say. Allah's curse be on them: how they are deluded away from the Truth! (9:30) (See also Bukhari 8:427), one of the last things Muhammad ever said on his deathbed was "May Allah curse the Jews and Christians.”)

Printenv
August 5, 2010

Didn't Jesus say simply "loving your neighbor as yourself" or did that come with a caveat?

Printenv
August 5, 2010

So we should do something more proactive like bring back the crusades, witch burnings, or say, the Inquisition? Such glorious Christian acts perpetrated on the world!

Rickd
August 5, 2010

Then I guess the Pharisees (ye are of your father the devil) weren't Christ's neighbor? Or all the money changers that he drove out of the temple with a whip? We don't have to allow or endorse insanity.

Terry
August 5, 2010

Now the devil was more subtil than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said....<br><br>Paul said. we are not ignorant of his(the devil) devices. <br><br>Seems to me that America is selling our birthright and are about to miss our blessings also.<br><br>Terry<br>

Jamesggilmore
August 5, 2010

Anyone objecting to the Ground Zero mosque should also, in all fairness, condemn any church built near the Murrah Building in Oklahoma City and Olympic Park in Atlanta, sites of Christian terrorism. The only possible reason one could object to the mosque in NYC and not to churches in those areas is religious bigotry and hypocrisy.

Faithsayer
August 5, 2010

At first, I was opposed, probably as much emotionally, as a believer, as on principle. Then I learned the mosque would not really be on the site of the twin towers, but down the street (and remember we're talking New York City). Although I believe it is a terrbily insensitive and provocative idea by the imam who is driving the proposal, who doesn't seem to be a particularly pro-America kind of Islamic guy, I can't see that there is any compelling legal, moral, or even theological argument that justifies opposition to what these Islamic Americans want to do on their own property.<br><br>I understand the desire to respect the families who lost loved ones on 911 at the hands of Islamic radical jihadists, but what exactly is the principle or policy that will govern the opposition to this mosque, and how will it be applied to future terrorist sites, or even smaller previous ones? Who defines that principle and implements it? Arguments against the mosque at this point mostly seem emotional and political, and often kind of knee-jerk conservative. I'm a strong conservative, so I say that with great respect for otherwise very insightful pundits and commentators who I think are appealing to emotions rather than to reason (let's be honest, it generates better ratings).<br><br>Frankly, I don't think the building of the mosque should become a "Christian" issue at all. I think we should stay far away from it. We have a responsibility to preach the gospel and, to confront theological error as vocally as we can, but we don't have the right to control how American Islamic citizens choose to live and spend their money within the law in this country. American is not a theocracy. Freedom of religion means that all religions are treated equally before the law, and the state does not discriminate against thelogocial belief, no matter how offensive it may be, as long as those holding that religion respect the law.<br><br>Until our leaders declare Islam an enemy of America, or bring conspiracy charges against Islam in America under RICO, or whatever, Islam as a religion has the same rights as Christianity. Period. Even though I think it is a bad and obviously offensive idea, I really don't see any defensible argument against their plans.

Paul Sanduleac
August 5, 2010

Come on. Public property? I don't believe in such public property. That property belongs to GOD, and God alone. How can you as a Christian support the building of a mosque? How many people will be influenced by the muslims? How many people will be deceived and will go to hell because of that?<br>

Bwf
August 5, 2010

This comment sounds too cryptic. Could you clarify, please?

Bwf
August 5, 2010

It's not about supporting the mosque itself; it's about supporting the right to build a house of worship. The United States is not a theocracy.

Rickd
August 5, 2010

There is no comparison. James, this is a group that officially believes and promotes the subjegation of women (read their laws concerning women), beating wives, forcing them to wear black tents with a peep hole to see out of while men go free, cutting off the hand of thieves, stoning adulters, beheading heretics, hating jews and christians, sending homosexuals to prison, war against infidels and cartoonists, and they don’t stop until a whole country is under Shariah law. Parts of England are now under Shariah law. Even conservative muslims spend hours memorizing every word of the Koran and chanting it back. You read the few brief quotes I included from the Koran? This has nothing to do with religious bigotry. This is organized insanity from the dark ages acting out in the 21 century. Don’t you agree?

Sandra
August 6, 2010

So, I'm a religious bigot and a hypocrite, then? If that's the "only possible reason" you see for objecting to the mosque near Ground Zero, you are close-minded and you don't think critically. Sorry to be so blunt. We are a nation founded on Christian principles and beliefs, not Islamic principles. Unfortunately, we seem to be losing ground daily on this issue.

Narriag
August 6, 2010

I fully agree with you!!! What would happen if we try to build a protestant church in Saudi Arabia? One thing is to be fair and another very different is to be naïve and careless about opposing the atacks from muslim, not only to america's way of life but to christianity itself

Kittyguest
August 6, 2010

I accidentally hit "Like" to this...but I disagree with you completely. I meant to hit "Like" on Rick's comment.

Ty Woznek
August 6, 2010

I believe in individual soul liberty. We don't cram our views, but we do share and assert the into public discourse.<br><br>I believe in the American rights to private property, free speech, ect. I disagree with politically correct mindset where offending seems to be the worst crime. This, in my mind, is another form of tyranny.<br><br>Could the Muslim community pick up some points by saying: "Sorry, we'll look elsewhere?" Yes. The greatest acts are often not pushing our rights. Do I think it was prudent for the Islamic community to build there, no, but they do have the right.<br><br>As for the church...I think our response should be no comment. We have more important business to attend to. Seriously, we need a trip to the eye doctors, as there are many issues we should address, but our character is less then perfect.<br><br>Good post &amp; discussion.

Ryan
August 6, 2010

Narriag,<br><br>Are you implying that the U.S. should only allow Christian churches?

Ryan
August 6, 2010

Many of these comments seem to desire a country where Christianity is law, and all other religions (or at least Islam) are illegal. How, in ANY way, would that be different than middle-eastern countries ruled by Sharia Law, other than the fact that it would be your own personal religion that's in charge? <br><br>Do you really all want to do away with freedom of religion?

Rickd
August 6, 2010

I'm not sure what you are talking about. Not one of these commenters want a country where "Christianity is law". I don't care what religion builds on that site, we live in a pluralistic society. My point is that Islam is more than religion, it is institutionalized, violent, ritual abuse of women, homosexuals, anyone of a differing religion (the hatred for Jews and Christians in particular and the encouragement to abuse them is enshrined on the pages of their holy book) and it will not stop till all are converted. This is not something that we can be tolerant of. Plus it is an affront to those that died in the twin towers.

Stephan1
August 6, 2010

Muslims died in the twin towers, too. Making peaceful practice of religion into the scapegoat for an act of extremist violence violates the ideal of religious freedom. Islam is quickly becoming a major religion in America. This is regrettable for Christians, but it doesn't mean that we should treat this new segment of the American population as villains. As with all who don't know Christ, our responsibility is to show God's love.

Sandra
August 6, 2010

Again, I completely agree with you Rick. And I posted another comment earlier today that said as much; however, TC sometimes doesn't like to give approval to posts they don't agree with. What am I doing back here?!? I said I was through with this site .... .... oh well.

Faithsayer
August 6, 2010

James, I don't think this is a good line of reasoning. It will just provoke emotional reactions rather than reasoned discourse. <br><br>Rick, you keep coming back to your same argument, but it is a straw man. As reprehensible as some Islamic social practices and Shariah law may be, it only matters what Islamic followers do here. Even if they believe and assent to the teachings (which would seem to be a "hate crime" in liberal policy, but that's another issue), if they do not practice them your point is moots. You cannot make American Islamics somehow guilty strictly by association for the practices of Islamics in other countries. It makes for a very emotional polemic against Islamic beliefs in general, but not against Islamic practices in America. It's an emotional argument, not a rational one.

Jamesggilmore
August 6, 2010

If you believe a mosque shouldn't be built near Ground Zero, but have no problem with churches near sites of Christian terrorism like Olympic Park and the Murrah Building, then <i>yes</i>, you are a religious bigot and a hypocrite. If the shoe fits, intellectual honesty demands that you wear it and own it. You either support or oppose <i>all</i> religious buildings near the site of acts of terrorism committed by practitioners of those religions, or you single out some religions that are acceptable and others that are not. There is no description for the latter attitude <i>other</i> than "religious bigotry and hypocrisy."<br><br>Oh, and please do find me the so-called "Christian principles" in the Constitution. Find me a <i>single passage</i> of the founding document of our nation that makes <i>any reference at all</i> to Christianity, aside from the standard "year of our lord" dating. The reference should be clear and plain, not a citation to the long-debunked pseudohistories of the hack David Barton or any of his charlatan ilk.<br><br>Because what <i>I</i> find in the Constitution are these words: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." <i>That</i> principle is pretty clear: It means that those who want to build a mosque on their own private property have <i>every single right</i> under the USA's <i>very highest law</i> to freely practice their religion.<br><br><i>Those</i> are the principles this nation was founded on - that <i>every single person</i> would be able to exercise his or her own religion in peace. If you want to circumvent that by enshrining your religious bigotry in law, then you want to live somewhere other than the United States of America.

Jamesggilmore
August 7, 2010

I don't agree at all - that is, of course, unless you're willing to own the acts of Christian fundamentalists and terrorists, and their interpretations of Scripture (which are no less barbaric than anything Islam has ever come up with), as the acts and interpretations of all of Christianity. To ascribe a monolithic quality to Islam (which, as is obvious to anyone who bothers to do even a scintilla of research on the topic, is anything <i>but</i> monolithic) while at the same time distancing yourself from Christian terrorists like Tim McVeigh, Scott Roeder, Randall Terry, Eric Rudolph, etc. is an act of extreme intellectual dishonesty. If you are going to claim that the most extreme fundamentalist interpretations of Islam represent the whole of the religion, then you <i>must</i> ascribe each and every one of the abuses of the very worst of Christianity to yourself and your own church.<br><br>And speaking of those abuses: Islam would have to do about a thousand times more than it's done <i>in its entire history</i> to get anywhere <i>near</i> to the atrocities committed by so-called Christians in the name of Christ. The global imperialism of Northern Europeans (and their descendents in the U.S.) of the past five hundred years - an imperialism that has led to genocides and land thefts and starvation and epidemics and now to the possible destruction of all of human civilization by means of climate change - is miles beyond anything the conquering Ummayads could have considered in even their wildest imaginations. If you want to use empirical historical evidence to talk about dangerous religions, then Christianity has to be miles away at the very top of your list. <br><br>And because you consider all religions to be monolithic and represented by the very worst of their religion, then it is <i>you, personally</i>, and <i>your church</i>, that are responsible for <i>every single atrocity ever committed in the name of Christ</i>. Perhaps it is <i>your church</i>, not an Islamic mosque, that we should be concerned about housing in our free and secular country.

Jamesggilmore
August 7, 2010

<i>How can you as a Christian support the building of a mosque?</i><br><br>Because I'm not only a Christian but an American, and I take the Constitution of the United States seriously when it enshrines the right of <i>all people</i> to freely exercise their religion in our very highest law.<br><br>Further, I can support the building of the mosque simply <i>because</i> I am a Christian, and I see absolutely <i>nothing</i> in the New Testament that indicates that Jesus Christ had <i>any interest whatsoever</i> in enshrining into the law of the imperial state any kind of exclusive rights for the religion His followers would found. Where in the New Testament do you find any support for the idea that Christians should attempt to impose their beliefs on others using the power of law?<br><br>I wholeheartedly support the building of this mosque. If Christian ideas are truly better than Muslim ones - if Christianity truly has more to offer a person than Islam does - then I must trust that the truth will win out. Do you not have a similar trust in your faith?

Jamesggilmore
August 7, 2010

<i>The goal is to plant a mosque that is so large that it will be included in any photo of the landmark or landscape. It seems that the idea is the same here.</i><br><br>If the idea is the same here, then it's a rather incompetently-executed idea - since the proposed community center is (a) only 13 stories tall (rather small for Lower Manhattan), (b) a couple of blocks away from Ground Zero and the new tower that is going up, and (c) on only one side of said tower - meaning that there will be many, many, <i>many</i> more photographic angles for the new tower that will not include the community center, than there will be that <i>do</i> include it.<br><br>If the plan really <i>was</i> to put in a mosque so large that one couldn't photograph Ground Zero without it, then it was a pretty poorly-conceived plan.

Bethanykj
August 8, 2010

If the truth is on our side, we should not have to resort to intimidation. God's people have been faithful through far worse than the presence of a mosque. If we can't face such a thing, what does it say about the quality of our faith?

Jerod
August 8, 2010

Hi Sandra. Sorry you're frustrated. We don't base comment approval on whether we personally agree with them or not. The comment stream of this post is a prime example. We do however not approve comments that have unnecessary name calling. We try to adhere to the rules set out at <a href="http://goodcomment.com" rel="nofollow">goodcomment.com</a>.

Rickd
August 9, 2010

Freely exercising their religion in this case includes world domination through Jihad, real theocracy and Sharia law, drinkers and gamblers pubicly whipped, hands cut off for stealing, infidels or apostates killed, fornicators stoned to death, homosexuals jailed or executed, polygamy, wives legally beat, women must wear veils upon point of whipping. And where are these moderate Muslims? Sudan? Somalia? Nigeria? Chechniya? Afghanistan? Uzbeckistan? Pakistan? Iran? Saudi Arabia? The Netherlands? England? England now has 5 courts of Sharia law. In most interpretations of Sharia, conversion by Muslims to other religions, is strictly forbidden and is termed apostasy. Muslim theology equates apostasy to treason, and in most interpretations of Sharia, the penalty for apostasy is death. People tout Turkey as moderate, but it is rapidly becoming radicalized and it is only peaceful because muslims completely dominate. There is no such concept as pluralism or tolerance in islam. What happens when you memorize a violent, vindictive holy book word for word and then chant it 5 times a day even if you do regard yourself as moderate? This is the reason we have zoning laws to restrict inappropriate development. And I can’t think of anything more inappropriate than a Mosque two blocks from the site of the world trade center massacre. I support the freedom of all religions, wicca, Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity, and I do not support a Christian Theocracy and would not impose my Christian beliefs on anyone. But this Mosque at this place time is way beyond extreme.<br><br>From GK Chesterton: Our real error in such a case is that we do not know or care about the creed itself, from which a people's customs, good or bad, will necessarily flow. We talk much about 'respecting' this or that person's religion; but the way to respect a religion is to treat it as a religion: to ask what are its tenets and what are their consequences. But modern tolerance is deafer than intolerance. The old religious authorities, at least, defined a heresy before they condemned it, and read a book before they burned it. But we are always saying to a Mormon or a Moslem - 'Never mind about your religion, come to my arms.' To which he naturally replies -- 'But I do mind about my religion, and I advise you to mind your eye.' [The Uses of Diversity; Illustrated London News, May 13, 1911]

Jamesggilmore
August 10, 2010

<i>Freely exercising their religion in this case includes world domination through Jihad, real theocracy and Sharia law, drinkers and gamblers pubicly whipped, hands cut off for stealing, infidels or apostates killed, fornicators stoned to death, homosexuals jailed or executed, polygamy, wives legally beat, women must wear veils upon point of whipping.</i><br><br>Christians freely exercising their religion included world domination through colonization, real theocracy until the rational among us came to our senses (and there are still many in this country who haven't), drinking and gambling outlawed or severely curtailed in many places (with violators punished by prison), the genocide or systematic cultural destruction of non-Christians, homosexuals jailed, executed, or lynched, and wives legally beat - to say nothing of the pandemic of racism and immense human suffering wrought by Christian colonization on the rest of the peoples of the world. Again, if you want to start calling religions barbaric, start with your own; from a purely empirical and numerical standpoint, it's the most barbaric religion in human history by a rather wide margin.<br><br>Nevertheless, we have a Constitution in this country that protects against such things - a Constitution that isn't shared by those other countries. If Muslims ever make a serious attempt with even a remote chance of success to enact Sharia law in the United States - something you have yet to provide <i>any</i> evidence for - I will stand with you in condemning it. <br><br>Until that point, Muslims as well as all other religions save Christianity seem content to live in our pluralist system. It is only Christians in this country who attempt to impose their religion's morality and their religion's laws on everyone else. My advice to you is to attack the raging bear that is the savagery and barbarism of Christianity, and condemn <i>all</i> of its historical abuses including colonialism and neocolonialism through imperialist economic policies, before attacking other religions for their abuses.<br><br>And I can't think of anything more inappropriate than a Christian church near the site of the Olympic Park massacre, committed by a Christian terrorist. I can't think of anything more inappropriate than Christian churches anywhere near the sites of American Christians' attempted genocide of the American Indian people, or near the sites of American Christians' trading in the enslaved lives and labor of the millions of Africans they kidnapped from their homes. Fair is fair; if you're going to present Islam as monolithic, then intellectual honesty demands that you present Christianity thus as well, and demand the <i>complete removal of Christian churches from the United States and Canada</i>, as the whole continent is a site of attempted Christian genocide against the Native Americans who were here long before any white man set foot on this side of the Atlantic.

Kittyguest
August 10, 2010

Intellectual honesty calls for no such conclusion, James. Intellectual honesty calls for a critical analysis of the intellectual threads that permeate the religions. Now you may not like this, but people calling themselves Christian have not always had correct behaviors, even though the teachings of Christianity lift all humankind is lifted up to an astonishingly high, level. We are to follow Christ. That we don't doesn't diminish the Holy Bible in the least. The teachings are there; the question is, will Christ's followers follow Christ's teachings and example? In Islam, the teachings and leader's example are also there, and a very real case can be made that to follow these will result in bloodshed and hatred. In other words, you paint a picture out of perspective, with no context as to the advances Christianity has produced. In fact, the examples you cite (Eric Rudolph, Timothy McVeigh, etc) are not even Christian, by their own words. "I prefer Neitszhe to my Bible" - Rudolph. "I am an agnostic" - McVeigh. Even the murderer of the abortionist, George Tiller, was on medication for schizophrenia. Hitler used religion to promulgate himself as the German savior.<br>Now I am not saying to you that Christians don't do evil acts, that we have not committed atrocities. I am saying, let's be intellectually honest and admit that when a professing Christian does such a thing, it is against Christ's teachings.<br>Now having said all this, I want you to know: your statement, "If Christian ideas are truly better than Muslim ones - if Christianity truly has more to offer a person than Islam does - then I must trust that the truth will win out..." is absolutely, 100% correct, not merely because of the IDEAS Christianity contains, but because of the living resurrected Person of Jesus Christ, Who alone is able to impart life to a dead mankind. <br>

JCarpenter
August 10, 2010

"Put a face on it" was a lesson I learned long ago on dealing with human issues, namely with a gay brother-in-law. I could have an abstract theory, but when the issue came close to home, with a real human face and person connected with it, my abstractions were put to the test. I live in a community with Muslims; I work with Muslims; I have taught/tutored Muslims; my cohort partner in a college course is a Muslim. Knowing them as people, knowing them as individuals with families, hopes and dreams, and fears, I find the politicization of the issue in New York reprehensible. Ask any Muslim friend why they or their families came to America---my acquaintances all have said, "to escape the oppression of . . . . and to be able to live a better life." Many can quote Qu'ran passages on community and peace and service; many, like we Christians and Jews, have a hard time reconciling passages in their Book(s) that seemingly advocate violence and intolerance. Many were heartbroken Americans on 9-11; many suffered abuse from "Christian" idiots in the near-decade of its aftermath.<br>American Muslims did not perpetrate the horrors of 9-11; to attach guilt or criticism by association is wrong. A mosque, or more accurately, a cultural center, built near, not on Ground Zero---a "victory" for radical Islam? or a "victory" for generosity of the American spirit and idealism? or a "victory" for Judeo/Christian concept of "love your neighbor?" Speculation and assumption of ulterior motives---how close to bearing false witness do we dare go?

Rickd
August 10, 2010

America has always been a pluralistic society, the separation of church and state is enshrined in the constitution. We are the most pluralistic nation on the planet. Even the military and prisons must make provisions for differing religious practices, from Wicca to native American shamanism to Islam. Say what you will, we have never had a colony and we never will. Great Britain had 34 colonies that were ruled by the Queen, under a British parliamentary system and used British money with the Queen’s face on the bills. France had 9 colonies. Germany and Spain had many colonies. <br><br>America had a 13 year experiment with prohibition. Drinking in Islam has been punishable by public whipping for 1400 years. Our God created wine as his first miracle and wine is a symbol of his blood. Hands have been amputated for stealing under Islamic law for 1400 years. There has been no systematic cultural destruction of non-Christians in America simply for being non-Christian. The destruction of native Americans was a lust for land, a regrettable conquest of another nation, an illegal and immoral action, not a Jihad against non-Christians. The use of slaves in the Southern states was illegal, immoral and unconstitutional and the American military went to war with the southern states 150 years ago to free the slaves and protect african American rights. “Jews in Colonial America struggled and won rights that were inconceivable and nonexistent in Europe. Jews struggled for and won the rights to equal economic opportunity, to own land, to go to higher secular education, to serve in the armed militias, to vote and...to become members of the legislative bodies.”-The Jewish Magazine. Buddhists, Jews, Hindus, atheists, muslims are thriving and their rights are protected by law and have never been legislated against. Homosexuals are not jailed, lynched or executed in America and their rights are protected by law. The New Testament does not advocate beating wives as the Quran does. The Quran specifically, actively, advocates human rights violations, misogyny and physical abuse.<br><br>Europe already has Sharia courts and no go zones for the police in those countries where Sharia is enforced. Great Britain has 5 Sharia courts. Harold Koh, President Obama’s legal advisor, has said that Sharia law "could, in an appropriate instance ... govern a controversy in a federal or state court in the US".<br><br>So “Christianity is the most barbaric religion in human history”? If that is truly the way you feel I would not identify as a Christian.

Paulvanderklay
August 10, 2010

Salon: why did no one object to the Pentagon mosque? <a href="http://bit.ly/ajUVjJ" rel="nofollow">http://bit.ly/ajUVjJ</a>

Rickd
August 10, 2010

When James says, the truth will win out what does that mean? In this life? And what does “Win out” mean? Did the truth win out in Cambodia? Did the truth win out in Communist China? Did the truth win out in the Soviet Union? Often, in fact more than likely, millions suffer and justice happens in the after-life. The truth wins out massively when you consider eternity and the judgment of God, but it is the heigth of folly to pretend that when a nation is confronted with two ideologies, people will automatically prefer Christianity. That people will opt for kindness and goodness over selfishness and cruelty. <br><br>“If Christian ideas are truly better than Muslim ones - if Christianity truly has more to offer a person than Islam does - then I must trust that the truth will win out. Do you not have a similar trust in your faith?” No. Where did you get this idea? That is Pelegianism, the belief in the good nature of human beings to choose good, when in reality we are a fallen race who prefer sin. We are saved only by grace. Worshipping God had more to offer the antedeluvian world too, but God destroyed every living creature because when presented with an option, they all chose violence and sin.<br><br>Of course the Kingdom of God will ultimately prevail on earth because our redeemer lives...when Jesus physically sets foot on earth bringing those who have been martyred with Him. Then the meek truly will inherit the earth.<br><br>In the mean time we must pray, vote, preach, legislate, limit the effects of sin in our pluralistic society and represent the Savior on earth without trampling on the human rights of others.<br><br>“All that is required for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing”.

Seank
August 10, 2010

I think it's time to position ourselves as Christians, not Americans.<br>The response to the 9/11 attack was an American way, not Christ's way (forgiveness and love). <br>A response to this event is getting toward another American way, not Christ's way (unity in Christ).<br><br>"And religious freedom means that religion doesn’t use government for religious purposes, and government doesn’t use religion for political purposes."<br><br>Yes, I agree. Without this, we cannot say anything?<br>Let us simply say our 'yes' be 'yes', and our 'no', 'no'.<br><br>Do we love Muslims? "YES!"<br>Then, do we agree with building a mosque? "NO!"<br><br>Two things are just different issues.

Rickd
August 10, 2010

Why did no one object to the Pentagon Mosque? Maybe it’s because there is no Pentagon Mosque. No one is building a monument at the Pentagon, it is simply an Navy chaplain in a room inside the facility practicing his faith with fellow Pentagon muslims. What liberals don’t get is that no one is for banning the Muslim faith, or their practices. The problem is the New York building is a visible monument, an in-your-face kind of statement. New York is a densly populated city and it is the home of 8 million people. This Mosque development is personal, and can’t fail to be symbolic. It’s Imam refuses to disassociate himself from the Hamas organization, dedicated to wiping Israel off the map. New York has one of the worlds largest Jewish populations, a particular target of the Al Queda. Plus 3000 people died in New York and the city skyline was visibly altered when two of the tallest buildings in the world collapsed. 125 in Pentagon. Does that help?

Narriag
August 10, 2010

For Ryan.<br>I don't mean that, not in USA nor in my own country, Chile. I believe in freedom of worship for everybody, but we must be careful that such freedom become a threaten to our own possibility of worshiping our God in our way. I don't understand why many people is so prone to give full rights and privileges to groups that clearly don't believe in giving the same rights to christian individuals or groups (let alone churches) in their countries, all the contrary christian and jews are persecuted id try to worship in public. You are in great risk trying to pass a christian pamphlet in a street in Saudi Arabia.

Narriag
August 10, 2010

I won't try to answer to your particular interpretation of history. Just one "little detail". When a person that you consider a christian because he is occidental, ignoring what is to be a real christian ( one who has accepted Jesus Christ as his personal savior), commit a terrorist act is not acting in the name of Christianity or promoting the faith in Christ, so there is no comparison with a terrorist wanting to kill as many no Muslims as possible...IN THE NAME OF ALLAH, and trusting in receive a compensation in heaven for his crime.

Jamesggilmore
August 11, 2010

That sounds a lot like the "no true Scotsman" fallacy. When you arbitrarily decide what a "real Christian" is, ignoring the number of people who have committed heinous acts in the name of Christ, you get to cast off anyone in your tradition that makes you uncomfortable. It would be just as easy to say that those who commit terrorism in the name of God as revealed in Islam are similarly not true Muslims - and indeed, many have said just that.<br><br>If you're going to claim that those who act in the name of Christ aren't "real" Christians if they commit acts of genocide, colonization, and terror - as has been done not just by Europeans but by <i>Christian</i> Europeans for hundreds of years - then you must allow moderate Muslims the same permission to define <i>themselves</i> against the radicals in their religion. To do otherwise is rank intellectual hypocrisy.

Jamesggilmore
August 11, 2010

<i>Say what you will, we have never had a colony and we never will.</i><br><br>The people of the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Marianas Islands, American Samoa, and Hawai'i will be surprised to hear that the United States has never held colonies - since each of them is, or was, a colony of the United States, if not in name then in practice. Further, to draw the line for "colonialism" at explicitly-named colonies is to ignore this nation's shameful history of meddling in the internal affairs of other nations, particularly our neighbors in Central and South America, to support even the cruelest and most inhuman leaders simply because they supported American economic interests.<br><br><i>Homosexuals are not jailed, lynched or executed in America and their rights are protected by law.</i><br><br>Up until a few years ago when the Supreme Court struck down sodomy laws in <i>Lawrence v. Texas</i>, they <i>could</i> be jailed. If the conservatives on the Supreme Court like Antonin Scalia had their way, LGBT people still <i>could</i> be jailed. (To say nothing of the efforts by American so-called "Christians" to enact into Ugandan law the jailing and execution of LGBT people in that country.) And what was the murder of Matthew Shepard but a lynching? LGBT people have to live every day with the reality that gay-bashing is still alive and well in this country.<br><br><i>There has been no systematic cultural destruction of non-Christians in America simply for being non-Christian.</i><br><br>Not since the Constitution was put in place, no. But there are elements in the American Right - including the hack pseudohistorian David Barton, the Texas GOP, and some in this very thread - who want to declare the USA a "Christian nation," presumably relegating all other religions to second-class status.<br><br><i>The destruction of native Americans was a lust for land, a regrettable conquest of another nation, an illegal and immoral action, not a Jihad against non-Christians.</i><br><br>Look at the rhetoric of those who engaged in those actions. While the primary motivation may have been a lust for land and resources - justified, of course, by the doctrine of Manifest Destiny which descends from Puritan apocalyptic triumphalism - the rhetoric of those who engaged in genocide against the Native Americans was couched in differences between "Christian" and "heathen."<br><br><i>The use of slaves in the Southern states was illegal, immoral and unconstitutional and the American military went to war with the southern states 150 years ago to free the slaves and protect african American rights.</i><br><br>Mark Noll has outlined the many, many ways in which those who held slaves used Christianity as a defense of their inhuman acts. Slavery, too, was done in the name of Christ. That there were Christians who stood against it (and ultimately triumphed) proves my point - Christianity is not a monolithic religion. Why do you presume that Islam must be?<br><br><i>Buddhists, Jews, Hindus, atheists, muslims are thriving and their rights are protected by law and have never been legislated against. </i><br><br>And yet, you want to change this by telling Muslims that there are certain places in this country where they're no longer free to exercise their religion.<br><br><i>The Quran specifically, actively, advocates human rights violations, misogyny and physical abuse.</i><br><br>The Bible specifically, actively, advocates genocide.<br><br><i>So “Christianity is the most barbaric religion in human history”? If that is truly the way you feel I would not identify as a Christian.</i><br><br>There are times I'd rather not, to be honest. Associating myself with genocidal maniacs and terrorists isn't exactly something I'm comfortable with.<br><br>Nevertheless, I acknowledge that there are a multiplicity of Christianities, just as there are a multiplicity of Islams. I follow what I believe to be <i>true</i> Christianity - one that rejects the worldly doctrines of consumerism, racism/sexism/heterosexism, unrestricted capitalism, and temporal power in favor of justice, tolerance, and concern for the poor.

Kittyguest
August 11, 2010

Rick, the truth doesn't have a chance to win out in Cambodia, communist China, etc, just as it has no chance right now of winning out in the oppression of say, Saudi Arabia. Because in order to "win" there competing ideas must be placed on the track in the first place. But when you write, "...God destroyed every living creature because when presented with an option, they all chose violence and sin..." you are correct. A world of people had a tremendous choice and they chose sin and judgment over grace - except for Noah &amp; his family. This could happen here in the United States, too. I don't think it will; not as long as we remain a free people.<br>But we cannot keep an idea from being presented - no matter how wretched it is, how ungodly it is, how unAmerican it is...to do such a thing first of all makes the idea more exotic and desirable to people (that 'wanting what we can't have' phenomena) and second, the only way Christ can shine properly is if people are free to choose Him. Satan is anathema to God; so is sin. But God permitted the serpent in the garden, and He didn't smack down Eve's hand or Adam's thought processes when they chose (in a perfect environment, mind you, with untainted minds) the rotten fruit.

Rickd
August 11, 2010

“Further, to draw the line for "colonialism" at explicitly-named colonies is to ignore this nation's shameful history of meddling.” So we haven’t had a colony as other nations have. True.<br><br>“And what was the murder of Matthew Shepard but a lynching?” No, he was not lynched by the government. Matthew Shephard, a gay man, was murdered and his murderer was sentenced to two life sentences by the government.<br><br>No systematic cultural destruction of non-Christians. “Not since the Constitution was put in place” Correct. The government does not destroy the culture of non-Christians.<br><br>The destruction of native Americans was a lust for land, a regrettable conquest of another nation, an illegal and immoral action, not a Jihad against non-Christians. “While the primary motivation may have been a lust for land and resources”. True, it was not a religious jihad.<br><br>“Mark Noll has outlined the many, many ways in which those who held slaves used Christianity as a defense of their inhuman acts.” Yes, and the Government went to war with the southern states 150 years ago and won because slavery contradicted our constitution.<br><br>“You want to change this by telling Muslims that there are certain places in this country where they're no longer free to exercise their religion?” Yes. Zoning laws are upheld every day against Baptist, Catholic, Methodist and other churches for inappropriate development locations. Which is certainly what this New York location is.<br><br>“The Bible specifically, actively, advocates genocide.” Specifically? Actively? Under a Theocracy 3000 years ago the nation of Israel was instructed to destroy the Canaanites because they practiced child sacrifice. Our Savior whom we worship today in the New Testament (which is the new covenant we are under today), prohibited murder. The Quran, written more recently (1400 years ago), is Islam’s new covenant and in effect today and advocates brutality and bloodshed.<br><br>And Kitty, I agree with you.

Paulvanderklay
August 11, 2010

In other words its the symbolic nature of the building that elicits the objection. If the same imam is doing the same work in a rented or purchased office space that is indistinguishable there are no objections. <br><br>I tend to think this debates is fed by perceived identity. You can practice your religion but just be quiet about it so we don't have to admit to ourselves that you are here and you are American. pvk

Rickd
August 11, 2010

There are mosques built everyday without controversy. A new one in my city just went up which is fine. But will you not admit that the case in New York is unique? Whether you agree or not, it is in astonishingly bad taste.

Paulvanderklay
August 11, 2010

Actually these protests are going on all over the US right now. Here is one article <a href="http://bit.ly/aLtBK1" rel="nofollow">http://bit.ly/aLtBK1</a> about a place in Southern CA. Last weekend I read a similar piece about protests all over the place. <br><br>This is also an old story. The building in which I went to Christian Jr. High was sold to an Islamic group to become a mosque. The Christian school folks were not happy when they learned what the people buying it from them would use it for but by law the of course could not discriminate. This happened maybe 20 years ago and is about 20 miles from NYC.

Kittyguest
August 11, 2010

Yes, astonishingly bad taste it is, Rick. It reminds me of the late 1970's, when Nazis wanted to march in Skokie, IL. Lesson most Americans learned from the Nazis astonishing bad taste in their insistence on trampling over and hurting Skokie's Jewish community, which included many Holocaust survivors: "Ew. While we respect their freedom to march in principle, they are truly creepy and we really don't want anything to do with their ideology now that we have seen it upfront and personal."

Paulvanderklay
August 11, 2010

Is this protest really more about American Fundamentalism since the 1970s? check out this piece from a church historian on how early twentieth century fundamentalism has changed from internal-denominational fight to a broader fight over Christendom. <a href="http://bit.ly/bpNN2f" rel="nofollow">http://bit.ly/bpNN2f</a>

Rickd
August 11, 2010

We're still a nation of laws and at the county level that includes zoning laws which should in theory protect the rights of Muslims. But I can understand peoples concerns when you actually begin to read the Quran and witness the mind-numbing violence all over the world where there are muslim colonies. That is what I appreciate so much about GK Chesterton's quote. He wasn't talking about banning Muslim speech, he was talking about having honest, informed, clear-headed debate.<br><br>"Our real error in such a case is that we do not know or care about the creed itself, from which a people's customs, good or bad, will necessarily flow. We talk much about 'respecting' this or that person's religion; but the way to respect a religion is to treat it as a religion: to ask what are its tenets and what are their consequences. But modern tolerance is deafer than intolerance. The old religious authorities, at least, defined a heresy before they condemned it, and read a book before they burned it. But we are always saying to a Mormon or a Moslem - 'Never mind about your religion, come to my arms.' To which he naturally replies -- 'But I do mind about my religion, and I advise you to mind your eye.'"

Againali
August 11, 2010

Narriag, <br><br>The only problem with that theory is that Saudi Arabia was not built on the foundation of religious freedom, as America was. This would include ALL religions, not just various forms of Christianity. <br><br>I agree with JCarpenter in that you "need to put a face on it." If you do not know any Muslims, this may be hard for you to do; however, many of us--especially in a metro area like New York--know at least one person who is Muslim. Most Muslims are very peaceful people, just as most Christians are, and most were horrified by the events of 9-11, especially American Muslims who lived and worked in the area. And I know it's on a different scale, but honestly, to think that being a Christian automatically gives you a monopoly on peace, might I remind you that the people who bomb abortion clinics are, indeed, Christians. So are 100% of the members of the Ku Klux Klan. And finally, let's not forget Paul, who--as Saul-- tortured and murdered hundreds of Christians. <br><br>No matter what, Jesus doesn't promote hate. And therein lies our challenge. How many of us are up to it?<br><br>As a footnote, 100% of the members of the Ku Klux Klan are Christians.

Ngui Yuen Loong
August 11, 2010

Wow. So many comments! There are 50 of them. I need time to go through all of them.<br><br>Has anyone heard about the Bumble Bee Ham processing plant which is supposed to be set up next to the said mosque?<br><br>Has anyone ever noticed that whenever it comes to a confrontation, it is always the other side to 'be a bigger man', to 'tolerate', to 'compromise' but never them?

Bobwalsh Puppetshows
August 12, 2010

It would be a victory shrine for M. Atta and the Muslin funded global agenda. The money for funding is all from radical Islam groups like Hamas and Al Queda. Political correctness will be America's downfall.<br>How about this as an alternative: Let's ask permission to build a Christian site in Iran?

Jamesggilmore
August 12, 2010

<i>So we haven’t had a colony as other nations have. True.</i><br><br>Except for the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Marianas Islands, American Samoa, and Hawai'i.<br><br>And again, "colonialism" isn't simply the act of maintaining colonies named as such; it's a catch-all for a general attitude that says that people of European descent know best and deserve to be able to tell people of non-European descent how to run their societies, and exploit people of non-European descent economically for the Europeans' own gain. The U.S.'s shameful history of intervention in Latin America, going back even to the Monroe Doctrine (which was if nothing else a declaration of the U.S.'s absolute colonial sovereignty over the Americas), is the demonstration <i>par excellence</i> of colonialism.<br><br><i>No, he was not lynched by the government. Matthew Shephard, a gay man, was murdered and his murderer was sentenced to two life sentences by the government.</i><br><br>Lynching was never done by the government. That was the whole point. It was about the white mob demonstrating to African-Americans their superiority by means of violence. The same continues to happen today with this nation's epidemic of violence against LGBT people.<br><br><i>No systematic cultural destruction of non-Christians. “Not since the Constitution was put in place” Correct. The government does not destroy the culture of non-Christians.</i><br><br>And yet, you want to remove Constitutional protections for Muslims by telling them that there are certain places in this country where they shouldn't be allowed to freely exercise their religion.<br><br><i>The destruction of native Americans was a lust for land, a regrettable conquest of another nation, an illegal and immoral action, not a Jihad against non-Christians. </i><br><br>Look at the rhetoric. Look at <i>what they said</i>. The entirety of the genocide of Native Americans by European American Christians was couched in terms of "civilized vs. barbarian" and "Christian vs. heathen." While it may not have been a jihad as such, the attitude of European American Christians toward the Native Americans can only be described as one of racism couched in religious terms. The genocide against Native Americans was committed in the name of Christ. Deny that all you want; that won't make it less true.<br><br><i>Yes, and the Government went to war with the southern states 150 years ago and won because slavery contradicted our constitution.</i><br><br>Except that slavery <i>didn't</i> contradict our constitution until we passed the 13th and 14th Amendments (the latter of which is <i>at this very moment</i> being spoken against by Republican leaders). Until that point, slavery was completely in line with the American Constitution. And your comment doesn't even address my point, which was that slavery, too, was defended by Christians using the Christian holy texts as justification.<br><br><i>Yes. Zoning laws are upheld every day against Baptist, Catholic, Methodist and other churches for inappropriate development locations. Which is certainly what this New York location is.</i><br><br>And yet zoning laws are required by our Constitution not to discriminate between religions. Zoning laws can say that no religious group can put a place of worship here, but they aren't allowed to say "Baptists can build a church here but Methodists can't." Unless you're saying that <i>no</i> religious organization should be allowed to put a house of worship within a few blocks of Ground Zero, you're asking government to discriminate against one religion specifically.<br><br><i>Under a Theocracy 3000 years ago the nation of Israel was instructed to destroy the Canaanites because they practiced child sacrifice.</i><br><br>That's the nice way of looking at it. The less-nice way of looking at it is that Israel wanted the land and justified the genocides they committed in order to take the land by saying that God told them to do it.<br><br><i>Our Savior whom we worship today in the New Testament (which is the new covenant we are under today), prohibited murder.</i><br><br>Then why have so many Christians committed murder in the name of Christ? Why so many wars in the name of Christ? Why so many genocides in the name of Christ? "By their fruits shall you know them" - and the fruits of Christianity have been suffering a thousand times worse than Islam has wrought in its entire history.

Againali
August 12, 2010

Didn't mean to include the footnote. Was having trouble posting, copied the comment, refreshed the page, pasted, rewrote a few things, and ended up forgetting to take that off because I didn't see it. You guys don't have to post this comment, but I'd appreciate it if you could repost my other comment without the footnote, as it looks odd! Thanks!! PS...I'm having trouble logging in today on Disqus, so I had to log in as a guest, but it's me, Lisa! Thanks again.

Rickd
August 12, 2010

“the fruits of Christianity have been suffering a thousand times worse than Islam has wrought in its entire history.”<br><br>Again, then why identify as a Christian if you believe that? A thousand times worse? Perhaps Islam would be a better fit.<br><br>“Israel wanted the land and justified the genocides they committed in order to take the land by saying that God told them to do it.”<br><br>James, if you don’t accept that God told the Israelites to possess Canaan and destroy the Canaanites, (which is a fundamental narrative of the Bible) then why believe anything in the Bible? Is this rationalization for a Jihad today against the nation of israel?<br><br>“slavery, too, was defended by Christians using the Christian holy texts as justification.”<br>“The genocide against Native Americans was committed in the name of Christ.”<br><br>James we could not be more diametrically opposed. Let’s just say we disagree and leave it at that.

Traceysheneman
August 13, 2010

I am a Christian who cared deeply about fundamental issues like fairness, tolerance, and equality. It disturbs me that some within the Christian fraternity who enjoy the Constitutional guarantees of freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and equal protection under law would desire to deny these inalienable rights to another group based, not on any quantifiable, objective measure, but on the religious identity of this group. This is bigotry, plain and simple, and I for one, am ashamed of some of the distorted rhetoric coming from certain representatives of my cherished faith. <br><br>Christianity, in much of the democratic west at least, has developed a tradition of tolerance and respect for diversity of opinion, extending beyond the comfort zone of the local church and community to embrace persons and communities of other faith traditions. We are called by our Founder and Teacher to be peacemakers, healers, and exemplars of the generous spirit present in the Savior. We can and must do better to confront and renounce our own prejudices and misinformed fears.

Againali
August 13, 2010

Your alternative point is moot, as Iran was not built on the foundation of freedom of religion, and America was. This really has to be taken into consideration. "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."<br>As long as the Muslims peacefully gather in the new mosque, they are not going against the United States Constitution.

Narriag
August 13, 2010

Anyway...you did it and it was good because I can use it to make clear that being a member of a christian church or organization doesn't make anybody a christian. A christian, a child of God, is only a person who has accepted Christ as his personal saviour. So, Ku Klux Klan or Cruzaders atrocities can't coun as christian actions

JCarpenter
August 13, 2010

There sure was an issue pre-9/11 in Palos Heights, IL, as a Muslim community wished to purchase a church building---the church congregation had split, with factions relocating---such a vehement venomous outcry from the Christian community that somehow got city hall involved. When all the dust settled, the (former) mayor ended up with a Profiles in Courage award from the Kennedys, for defending the Muslim group's rights; the city was hit with a lawsuit for trying to buy out the Muslims to "just go away;" the mosque ends up 10 miles further away for the average worshipper to travel, out in the sticks. Although the outcry came largely from the Christian community, the area pastors did a commendable job, backed by some members of their congregations, with public presence and commentary to counter the hostility. End result, in my opinion? We lost opportunity to witness, to show love, to live together in peace, to learn about and from one another; instead, we still live in ignorance, fear, distrust. It takes civic instituitions such as the local community college for any sort of co-operative existence, for any sort of inter-faith relationships to develop. That is shameful for the Church.

Bethanykj
August 13, 2010

Some googling leads me to believe there are christian churches in Iran.

Jamesggilmore
August 13, 2010

<i>A christian, a child of God, is only a person who has accepted Christ as his personal saviour. So, Ku Klux Klan or Cruzaders atrocities can't coun as christian actions</i><br><br>Why not? Couldn't a member of such a group have accepted Christ as their personal savior?<br><br>That's a rather incredible mental gymnastic maneuver there - that you're so eager to label those of <i>your</i> faith that you don't want to be associated with as "not real Christians," while you seem to presume that Islam is a monolithic faith and don't extend the same courtesy to moderate Muslims who want to dissociate themselves with fundamentalist, theocratic, or terrorist followers of that religion.<br><br>It sounds a lot like the <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No_true_scotsman" rel="nofollow">No True Scotsman</a> fallacy to me.

Rickd
August 13, 2010

Yes, Iran has 600 historical Christian churches. Although it is illegal to convert to Christianity. Christian persecution in Iran rose with the Islamic Revolution of 1979, reaching a peak in the 1990’s when several prominent church leaders were seized and executed. In 2009, Iran again witnessed extreme tactics of imprisonment, torture and rape used by the Iranian government to terrorize and reduce the number of Christians within its borders. <br><br>Even before the June elections, the Iranian government was convinced that Christianity was growing beyond its control. Many Christian conversions were a result of satellite television and radio Christian broadcasts. The Iranian government has been active in obstructing television signals by erecting jamming towers in major cities, controlling phone lines to Christian television programs, and arresting house church leaders. <br> <br>The Iranian Constitution declares that all “laws are based on Islamic criteria” and, in practice, the government severely restricts religious freedom, especially those of evangelical protestants. Therefore, most Christians are forced to worship underground in house churches, with many choosing to keep their faith private so they will not be charged with apostasy (conversion from Islam), a “crime” punishable by death. The total number of Christians in Iran is unknown, yet some estimate that there are as many as one to two million.

Tracey Sheneman
August 16, 2010

I learned today there has been a mosque near ground zero for the past forty years. Masjid Manhattan, located on Warren Street four blocks north of the World Trade Center site, has been open for worship and prayer since 1970 (the same year the WTC opened).<br><br>Regarding zoning issues: The Lower Manhattan Community Board's 40 members, after hearing four hours of testimony, voted thusly: 10 abstensions, one no vote, 29 yeses. The Board's financial committee had previously voted unanimously in support of the Cordoba House project. The project is supported by Mayor Bloomberg and by Manhattan borough president Scott Stringer. <br><br>See also: <a href="http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/bf1110d8-a5b0-11df-a5b7-00144feabdc0.html" rel="nofollow">http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/bf11...</a><br><a href="http://www.pensitoreview.com/2010/07/23/there-has-been-a-mosque-at-ground-zero-since-1970/" rel="nofollow">http://www.pensitoreview.com/2...</a>

Rickd
August 16, 2010

Which makes this new 13 story mosque all the more questionable. Of course they have the legal right but do they have the moral right? The husbands, wives and relatives of those killed in 911 are overwhelmingly opposed to this development. It is unseemly and painful. The proposed start day for construction is 9/11/11. Even the name of the development is inflammatory. Cordoba was the largest city in Spain conquered by the muslims in 711 and ruled for over 700 years when Islam overran Europe. Why Cordoba? Why 13 stories when another mosque is nearby? Does this make a difference to anyone reading this blog? Does anyone care?

Jamesggilmore
August 16, 2010

<i>The husbands, wives and relatives of those killed in 911 are overwhelmingly opposed to this development.</i><br><br>What radius from the World Trade Center site do you propose giving over to the 9/11 families for veto power over all development? 5 blocks? 10? All of Lower Manhattan? And do just a majority of the families have to choose to veto in order for a development not to have the "moral right" to build, or is there some kind of supermajority or consensus requirement?<br><br><i>The proposed start day for construction is 9/11/11.</i><br><br>Citation please, from a reputable and unbiased news source.<br><br><i>Even the name of the development is inflammatory. Cordoba was the largest city in Spain conquered by the muslims in 711 and ruled for over 700 years when Islam overran Europe.</i><br><br>Is it now inflammatory to name any building after a conquered place? If so, we've got a <i>lot</i> of names to change around here, given that this entire continent was conquered from its original inhabitants, and given Europe's history of conquest after conquest. Is it possible that in the 700 years that Cordoba was under Islamic rule, something else of historical or cultural significance occurred? Wouldn't it behoove you to look into the reasons <i>they</i> give for the name, rather than implying it's some sort of Islamic triumphalism?<br><br><i>Why 13 stories when another mosque is nearby?</i><br><br>At the intersection of Harvard St NW and 16th St NW here in Washington DC, there are (by my count) eight churches within a three-block radius. Why do there need to be so many? If there was already one church there, why do they need seven more?

Kittyguest
August 16, 2010

A MEMBER of such a group could actually be a willfully ignorant or even heretical believer. But the group itself is not and cannot be Christian, because even a cursory glance at their doctrine (let's start with the "whites only" part of it) is in direct opposition to Scripture's teaching that Christ came to save every single human being who places trust in Him. Individual believers can be totally immersed in and justify sinful behaviors, make totally wrong choices, and if I'm not mistaken, they can even be real believers and kill people (I'm thinking of David here...) The difference is that when measured against the light of God's word, real believers do a funny little thing called, "Repentance." But a group that actually preaches corrupted doctrine in the first place can be detected rather easily: Jesus said "By their fruits you shall know them" [false teachers, the wolves in sheep's clothing].

Tracey Sheneman
August 18, 2010

One of the more irrational and bizarre statements of political figures in America exploiting opposition to the Islamic center project is this, by Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich: "There should be no mosque near Ground Zero in New York so long as there are no churches or synagogues in Saudi Arabia. The time for double standards that allow Islamists to behave aggressively toward us while they demand our weakness and submission is over." <br><br>If Americans are sincere in their professed devotion to democratic ideals they should welcome an Islamic cultural center in lower Manhattan. We like to think of ourselves as a beacon of civilization, a land of freedom, hope, and opportunity. We like to see ourselves as exceptional by virtue of our superior values, laws, and shared heritage. However, it is becoming all too clear that for some, the liberties spoken of in these cherished national ideals should maybe not extend to certain groups deemed 'radical, 'fringe' or 'foreign.'<br><br>What is truly radical, and is a concept Americans still can't quite get their heads around, is the quintessentially American, enlightenment-era idea that religion, all religion, be treated with equal disinterest by government. Sometimes politicians, pundits, and the populace seek government favor for a particular expression of religious sentiment, other times, as now with Park 51, these same interests are lining up to decry the free expression of a religious sentiment they don't really understand or share an affiliation with (except as a scapegoat for Americans' militant anger).<br><br>Saudi Arabia is a Monarchy, without elected representative government, ruled (ostensibly) by Islamic law. We are the democratic republic, with a free press, free speech, freedom of association, and freedom of religion, and elected representatives in government. Comparing the right of Faisal Abdul Rauf to construct an Islamic center in America's cultural mecca to an authoritarian Islamic regime's restriction of such freedom with regard to non-Muslim faiths betrays a cultural arrogance and a maladaptive intellect typical of Americans who oppose the Park 51 project. Let's have the project, and let's use this incident as a chance to demonstrate to the world the sincerity and the depth of our convictions.<br><br>We are not exporting hope with our reflexive national gasp of bigotry - we are inviting ridicule and lending credibility to the jihadist's meme that "America is at war with Islam." Except, we are not at war with Islam; we are at war with ourselves.

Tracey Sheneman
August 18, 2010

The Park51 project is not a '13 story mosque.' It is a proposed cultural center, with a planned 500-seat auditorium, theater, performing arts center, fitness center, basketball court, childcare services, art exhibitions, bookstore, culinary school, and food court, in addition to a Mosque, or prayer space, open to all.<br><br>The project's sponsors explained their choice of the name 'Cordoba House' was meant to invoke 8th-to-11th century Cordoba, Spain, when Muslims, Christians, and Jews co-existed peacefully in the same place. Newt Gingrich claimed it was "a deliberately insulting term" for much the same reason you cite. I think Gingrich is deliberately stoking Islamophobia with his selective interpretation of history. <br><br>The project is a sensitive topic. It is unfortunate that more Americans do not understand how to show equal sensitivity to Muslims who wish to express their gratitude for the gift of freedom by building a structure dedicated to tolerance, peace, human rights, and the dignity of all people under one God.

Kittyguest
August 18, 2010

Typically I find Newt Gingrich anathema politically, but in this case I have no problem with his statement. Because you see, when our nation fights for freedom, we ought not only fight physically the armies against us, we must - it is of first importance - we must fight intellectually the ideologies of the tyrants that incite and enslave their peoples. So let's see this 'peaceful' religion put it into practice on their home turf first. Because if it ain't there (where they have spiritual authority) you may rest assured: it ain't gonna be anywhere.<br>Yes, we send the physical strength of our nation into war, but we do not condemn the ideologies that would love nothing more than to remove from freedoms from us. Then we pat ourselves on the collective back for being so big, tolerant and accepting about it all. <br><br>As to your statement that government should treat all religions with equal disinterest - I am presuming you are speaking of the U.S. government. If this is so, you are absolutely mistaken in this notion. No matter how much some dislike it, the U.S. government is composed of "WE THE PEOPLE." This WE THE PEOPLE includes you and I and everyone reading this post who is an American citizen. If your religion is of no consequence to you, by all means, do not allow it to inform your life, your votes, your ideals. But if it is of consequence to you, then you'd better believe it's important to be passionate about it.

Kittyguest
August 18, 2010

James, you say the Constitution is "the" founding document of our country as if there are no other documents to be digested. Of course if we rip the Constitution out of the culture that brought it forth, we can say that we are a secular country and always have been. Because (aside from that "Year of our Lord" thing) you are right - there is no explicit reference to Christianity in the actual Constitution. But if we glance at the Declaration of Independence (written by Jefferson) we find first that our rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are inalienable because they were endowed (given to us as a heritage) by a Creator. Now I will leave the were-they-only-deist vs. were-they-really-Christian battle alone and simply remind here that our freedoms were immediately placed on a higher level than something one man can give to another. Our founding fathers certainly knew that if freedom came by man, freedom would be revoked by man; they were mighty careful to establish that the freedoms enumerated in the Constitution are from a higher level than mere humanity. Don't ride roughshod over the Declaration; it predicates everything other idea in the Constitution. It is important.<br><br>Does the founding of our nation offer examples of a peculiarly Judeo-Christian diety having a major impact on the lives of founding fathers, their outlook as to the rest of the world, the principles they held dear? Yes, first-hand documents outside of the U.S. Constitution actually do show that Sandra's statement is correct: our nation was founded on Christian ideals and by men who mostly acknowledged themselves Christian. Our first congress actually authorized and paid for a chaplain. The founders of this nation often quoted the Bible in their debates and their writings and their prayers are permeated with Christianity. Not wanting to impugn states' rights and wanting the people of the U.S. to govern themselves, the Constitution was deliberately vague as to Christianity in particular, but when the nitty gritty of day-to-day governing happened (i.e., in the states) many of the charters contained boldly Christian sentiments. But back to the 'big' government - a prayer service following the inaugaration of the president has been in place since George Washington. But what about after the Revolutionary War's dust had settled and the U.S. grew? Did God have an impact then? Indeed He did.<br><br>Almost at once after our country was founded, abolitionists began to try to free slaves. In the early 1800's abolitionists began calling the Pennsylvania State House Bell (the one with an explicit Bible verse from Leviticus on it) the Liberty Bell. Never letting up for a moment, these courageous abolitionists worked tirelessly because of their Christian compassion to obliterate the blight of slavery from the U.S. A president named Abraham encouraged an end to war by reminding us that the Bible teaches "A house divided cannot stand." The Union soldiers who fought and died to make men free rallied under a song which had a first stanza that began, "Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord..." <br><br>Now I could give many more examples (I think you know this and that is why you directed Sandra to the Constitution alone when she wrote about the founding of the U.S.), but my basic point is this: like Bible verses and statistics, taking the Constitution out of its context and then saying that because the Constitution has no explicit references to Christianity in it, we are a secular nation, is unfair and wrong.

Rickd
August 18, 2010

The name of the project was the Cordoba house until July 14th when someone with some common sense in the Muslim community suggested naming it the more neutral Park51. Now it is officially called Park51 featuring the Cordoba House Mosque. Cordoba was the seat of the caliphate after an army of 10,000 under Tariq bin Ziyad from North Africa invaded and conquered Spain in the 8th century. Cordoba was the prize of Islam’s European Conquest at the height of their empire. The great mosque at Cordoba was built on the foundation of a demolished Christian cathedral. Ironic. When Europeans retook Cordoba in the 13th century they turned the mosque back into a cathedral. This is not selective history. From a history segment on the BBC;<br><br>In Cordoba Jews and Christians were second class citizens, subject to special taxes and laws. They were tolerated if they:<br>• acknowledged Islamic superiority<br>• accepted Islamic power<br>• paid a tax called Jizya to the Muslim rulers and sometimes paid higher rates of other taxes<br>• avoided blasphemy<br>• did not try to convert Muslims<br>• complied with the rules laid down by the authorities. These included:<br>• restrictions on clothing and the need to wear a special badge<br>• restrictions on building synagogues and churches<br>• not allowed to carry weapons<br>• Christians were not allowed taller houses than Muslims, could not employ Muslim servants, and had to give way to Muslims on the street. Christians could not display any sign of their faith outside, not even carrying a Bible. There were persecutions and executions and Pogroms in the 11th century. <br><br>I can’t think of a more arrogant, inflammatory name for the Mosque. No wonder the PR hacks pushed through a name change.<br>

Tracey Sheneman
August 20, 2010

Disinterest: 1. Freedom from bias or self-interest: IMPARTIALITY. 2. Lack of interest.<br><br>1st Amendment, U.S. Constitution: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.<br><br>So, you have no problem with this part of his statement, either? "The time for double standards that allow Islamists to behave aggressively toward us while they demand our weakness and submission is over." By using the term 'Islamists,' Gingrich is casting aspersions on all Muslims, making no distinctions between radical jihadists (like the 9/11 terrorists), ultra-conservative Wahhabists (like our friends the Saudis), Sunnis, Shia, or Sufis. That is plain bigotry, right before your God-fearing eyes. I have no wish to associate my understanding of either the Gospels or the U.S. Constitution with such hateful comments.<br><br>Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the man behind the cultural center project, is a Sufi Muslim. Sufis endure persecution from conservative Wahhabist Muslims, jihadists, and the Pakistani Taliban. <br><br>For more on Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, see here: <a href="http://middleeast.about.com/od/religionsectarianism/f/Imam-Feisal-Abdul-Rauf.htm" rel="nofollow">http://middleeast.about.com/od...</a><br><br>For more on Sufi Islam, see here: <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/17/opinion/17dalrymple.html?_r=1" rel="nofollow">http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08...</a>

Tracey Sheneman
August 20, 2010

Rick, here's the entire piece from the BBC, which presents a more balanced perspective than you allow. <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/islam/history/spain_1.shtml" rel="nofollow">http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/...</a><br><br>Excerpt: Islamic Spain (711-1492)<br><br><br>Islamic Spain was a multi-cultural mix of the people of three great monotheistic religions: Muslims, Christians, and Jews.<br><br>Although Christians and Jews lived under restrictions, for much of the time the three groups managed to get along together, and to some extent, to benefit from the presence of each other.<br><br>It brought a degree of civilisation to Europe that matched the heights of the Roman Empire and the Italian Renaissance.<br><br>Excerpt: Islamic Spain (711-1492)<br><br>Life for non-Muslims in Islamic Spain<br><br>Jews and Christians did retain some freedom under Muslim rule, providing they obeyed certain rules. Although these rules would now be considered completely unacceptable, they were not much of a burden by the standards of the time, and in many ways the non-Muslims of Islamic Spain (at least before 1050) were treated better than conquered peoples might have expected during that period of history.<br><br> * they were not forced to live in ghettoes or other special locations<br> * they were not slaves<br> * they were not prevented from following their faith<br> * they were not forced to convert or die under Muslim rule<br> * they were not banned from any particular ways of earning a living; they often took on jobs shunned by Muslims<br> * these included unpleasant work such as tanning and butchery<br> * but also pleasant jobs such as banking and dealing in gold and silver<br><br> * they could work in the civil service of the Islamic rulers<br> *Jews and Christians were able to contribute to society and culture<br><br>That the Jews in Cordoba under Muslim rule fared better than when under Christian domination is another little irony of history. <a href="http://www.historyworld.net/wrldhis/PlainTextHistories.asp?ParagraphID=fsh" rel="nofollow">http://www.historyworld.net/wr...</a><br> <br>

Tracey Sheneman
August 20, 2010

Not selective history, huh? I'm not sure what gives you such certainty. <br><br> "Generally, the Jewish people were allowed to practice their religion and live according to the laws and scriptures of their community. Furthermore, the restrictions to which they were subject were social and symbolic rather than tangible and practical in character. That is to say, these regulations served to define the relationship between the two communities, and not to oppress the Jewish population."<br><br> – Bernard Lewis, The Jews of Islam (1984)<br><br>The Jews in Islamic Spain: Al-Andulus, from the Foundation for the Advancement of Sephardic Studies and Culture. <a href="http://www.sephardicstudies.org/islam.html" rel="nofollow">http://www.sephardicstudies.or...</a><br>

Kittyguest
August 20, 2010

And what I am saying to you is that the people of faiths of the U.S. have the absolute freedom to stand up and proclaim their beliefs - and those beliefs should be taken into account when the laws of our nation are formed. However: the "establishment clause" is now used as a billy club to stop the freedoms of expression altogether, supposedly in the interest of "impartiality." For example: a few years ago any prayers led by teachers were stopped, because these prayers coming from an authority figure might cause uncalled for conflict to a student who was not of that particular religion. Today, a STUDENT who gives a speech referencing a religious text and or religious figure is subject to threats of not getting a diploma, etc. <br>Now some reading this may get the idea that if a Muslim wants to give such a speech as valedictorian, I would be against it. You would be incorrect. I think all the ideas should be out there, and able to be expressed, AND SUBJECT TO THE CRITICQUE of listeners/those of different faiths (or no faith at all). This is called critical analysis of ideas and in the past it has led people to abandon rip-roaringly bad and ignorant ideas (Nazism, say, or Jim Crow justifications, etc). But today, we have become so "accepting" that no matter how far out an idea is, anyone who says something to the effect of, "Wow, I disagree, let's discuss why I feel this way" is at once labeled an intolerant bigot and whomped with the "establishment clause". In the meantime, we, the people of the United States, a majority of whom may be, but at least profess to be, Christians, find that the government which is supposed to be represent them actually represents very little that they stand for: they supposedly CAN'T. And it's bull.<br>As to the peaceful Sufi brand of Islam, how about a brand of Islam that says, "Hey, if this offends Americans, we can understand that. We happen to think 911 was a travesty, too and because we care, we will find another location."

Rickd
August 20, 2010

It’s true, the Jews fared better under the muslims than under Christian rule. Until the 10 century when Muslims conducted Pogroms and killed thousands. But yes, up til the 10 century, things were peaceful. They were peaceful because the Muslims were rather magnanimous for the times in their tolerance of conquered people. Yet it is still true that the conquered Europeans were subject to special taxes and laws. They were tolerated if they: Acknowledged Islamic superiority, accepted Islamic power, paid the Jizya to the Muslim rulers, avoided blasphemy, did not try to convert Muslims, wore special badges, jews were required to wear yellow turbans, Christians were not allowed taller houses than Muslims, could not employ Muslim servants, and had to give way to Muslims on the street. Christians could not display any sign of their faith outside, not even carrying a Bible. The Muslims generously built an impressive mosque on the grounds of a demolished christian church. It was peace at the point of a conquering sword. Cordoba was a sign of Muslim Triumphalism. A time when Muslim armies overan Europe. Why would the PR people downplay the Cordoba name, changing it to Park51? I don’t want to argue just for the sake of arguement. I stand with Harry Read, Mayor Rudy Giuliani, New York Govenor Patterson, New York Reps John Hall, Tom Bishop, Mike McMahon and other Democrats, the families of 911 victims, the construction workers of New York who refuse to work on the project. It is in bad taste. We disagree. I will leave it at that and not discuss it further.

Tracey Sheneman
August 20, 2010

"In the meantime, we, the people of the United States, a majority of whom may be, but at least profess to be, Christians, find that the government which is supposed to be represent them actually represents very little that they stand for: they supposedly CAN'T. And it's bull."<br><br>The secular government of the United States represents all the people of the United States, and the Constitution protects the rights and liberties of all people, including those in the minority. As a professing Christian, I do not expect the government to defer to my opinion, feelings, or sentiment at the expense of the rights of others. If government favors the majority religion that is clearly a violation of the 1st and 14th Amendments, besides being inherently biased and a perversion of justice. <br><br>In the United States, an individual has the freedom to say "You shouldn't build your church/mosque/synagogue/shrine/temple/cultural center in this location. Go build it somewhere else." The government is constrained by the Constitution and legal precedent from speaking or acting in this manner. Thank God.

Jamesggilmore
August 22, 2010

<i>However: the "establishment clause" is now used as a billy club to stop the freedoms of expression altogether, supposedly in the interest of "impartiality." For example: a few years ago any prayers led by teachers were stopped, because these prayers coming from an authority figure might cause uncalled for conflict to a student who was not of that particular religion.</i><br><br>Yes, when the teacher is acting as an agent of the state - as he or she is when on school time - he or she should not be permitted to lead prayer, as that would be the state supporting one religion (or religion in general).<br><br><i>Today, a STUDENT who gives a speech referencing a religious text and or religious figure is subject to threats of not getting a diploma, etc.</i><br><br>Citation, please, from a reputable and unbiased source. In my classes, my students are free to speak on almost any topic they want, so long as they are respectful of the fact that not all in the audience will share their religious views.<br><br><i>This is called critical analysis of ideas and in the past it has led people to abandon rip-roaringly bad and ignorant ideas (Nazism, say, or Jim Crow justifications, etc).</i><br><br>Huh? Those ideas weren't "abandoned" when people decided that they were bad ideas. They were defeated. Nazism - whose ideas of racial superiority are still alive and well today, unfortunately, in the US as well as in Europe - was defeated by the armies of the Allies, not by the German people thinking "this Nazism stuff was a really bad idea." Jim Crow - whose legacy continues in discriminatory sentencing guidelines and continuing efforts to stop busing and equality in schools - was defeated when civil rights groups, Congress, and our court system told the racists that U.S. policy would no longer condone overt racial discrimination, not from Jim Crow racists thinking "you know, everyone <i>should</i> be equal."<br><br><i>But today, we have become so "accepting" that no matter how far out an idea is, anyone who says something to the effect of, "Wow, I disagree, let's discuss why I feel this way" is at once labeled an intolerant bigot and whomped with the "establishment clause".</i><br><br>No, we've become a society where someone saying "Wow, I disagree, and I'm going to try to use the power of the state to enforce my views on everyone else" is whomped with the Establishment Clause - and with good reason.<br><br><i>In the meantime, we, the people of the United States, a majority of whom may be, but at least profess to be, Christians, find that the government which is supposed to be represent them actually represents very little that they stand for: they supposedly CAN'T. And it's bull.</i><br><br>No, it isn't bull. It's right there in the Constitution, plain as day. "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of a religion." Even if a 99.99% majority of the nation were Christian, our laws would still not permit the establishment of Christianity by government.<br><br><i>As to the peaceful Sufi brand of Islam, how about a brand of Islam that says, "Hey, if this offends Americans, we can understand that. We happen to think 911 was a travesty, too and because we care, we will find another location." </i><br><br>Why should thinking 9/11 was a travesty necessarily lead to finding another location? Should churches that think 9/11 was a travesty relocate away from the area around the WTC? How about a brand of Christianity that says "Sure, some people might be offended by this, but I fully respect and support your right to freely exercise your religious beliefs on your private property, knowing that my religious beliefs are protected by that same right"? Or am I asking too much, expecting American Christians to acknowledge the values of tolerance and diversity that made this nation great?

Kittyguest
August 23, 2010

Hi, James, <br><br>Somehow in this whole "Establishment Clause" argument, we are forgetting that the Establishment clause was not designed to keep states from supporting one religion, because in fact several states had established religions when the Constitution was approved. The Establishment clause was one more protection for the states' rights, even the right to establish a religion if they so chose (and some did indeed take such a stance). <br><br>Here are a couple of the articles you requested:<br><br><a href="http://www.reviewjournal.com/lvrj_home/2006/Jun-17-Sat-2006/news/8014416.html" rel="nofollow">http://www.reviewjournal.com/l...</a> <br><br><a href="http://billingsgazette.com/news/state-and-regional/montana/article_1dcb6794-2281-11df-a08a-001cc4c002e0.html" rel="nofollow">http://billingsgazette.com/new...</a><br><br><a href="http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=granderson/091006&amp;sportCat=highschool" rel="nofollow">http://sports.espn.go.com/espn...</a><br><br>The Constitution says that CONGRESS shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, not that 'government' shall not. That's an important distinction; it means that American citizens can make governmental decisions for themselves at the local and state levels reflecting the people's values, and the federal government could not interfere. <br><br>Nazism was defeated both militarily and ideologically. Granted, you do still have pro-Nazi nuts (and, uh, James, just in case you didn't know - they are not only in the U.S. and Europe), but proponents of Nazism are almost all considered to be "off" mentally. Except by a few, er, ...nutcases. As to racism's defeat in the U.S., the people's hearts were awakened and horrified as they watched dogs attack innocent marchers, as they witnessed Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King's loving actions combined with his powerful words. Do not ignore the fact that he was a Christian man, that his main argument against racism was a moral argument. And never underestimate the Southern Christian Leadership Conference's part in helping eradicate racism. Admittedly, the job is not completely done, and I will grant you that our court system played an important role. But it did not play the primary role. Christians did - and in fact, the spiritual and moral authority of Rev. Dr. King's speeches are what gives them such power even today. <br><br>Re: "Why should thinking 9/11 was a travesty necessarily lead to finding another location?" It doesn't, necessarily. But such a unilateral action (combined with severe condemnation of the attacks) would demonstrate that the Muslims really mean it when they tell Americans that theirs is a religion of "peace." Because I'm tired of hearing this about Islam; I want to see it put into action by Islam's followers. Frankly, I can see why many free Americans take umbrage when a religion that bombed our nation without provocation wants to build a monument to their religion so near that very spot. It is salt in the wound, unkind, in bad taste. It harms Islam because people gape and wonder, "Why on earth would they build there, of all places?" <br><br>And that's a pretty good question, when all is said and done.

Kittyguest
August 23, 2010

And as Rick pointed out in an earlier post, there are zoning laws and other legal mechanisms which still honor freedom but also honor the "sentiments" of many of the people involved here. <br><br>Thank you for your reply, Tracey.

Traceysheneman
August 24, 2010

Congressman Ron Paul had some very interesting comments about the 'controversy.' Read them here: <a href="http://www.ronpaul.com/2010-08-20/ron-paul-sunshine-patriots-stop-your-demagogy-about-the-nyc-mosque/" rel="nofollow">http://www.ronpaul.com/2010-08...</a><br><br>I'm not aligned with Paul's libertarian philosophy so much, but I am in 100% agreement with his statement about the conflict surrounding the cultural center/prayer space/mosque project.

Printenv
August 24, 2010

There is righteous anger and then there is hatred. What you are talking about is hatred, not righteous anger. You can hate the evil but love the person.

Jamesggilmore
August 24, 2010

<i>Here are a couple of the articles you requested:</i><br><br>In each of those situations, a student was trying to use the school's mouthpiece to spout his or her religious views. The valedictorian was free to give her speech at any other time using her own sound equipment, but when the microphone and PA system she's using are the property of the school district, and she's speaking at an official school event, she isn't permitted to espouse her religious views, as that is using government property to promote religion. I'm totally in favor of her being told that she wasn't allowed to bring religion into her valedictory address.<br><br><i>The Constitution says that CONGRESS shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, not that 'government' shall not. That's an important distinction; it means that American citizens can make governmental decisions for themselves at the local and state levels reflecting the people's values, and the federal government could not interfere. </i><br><br>It might have originally said that, but the 14th Amendment incorporated such rights to states and localities, and has been understood by the courts to do so for at least half a century now. The incorporation of the Establishment Clause is established law. No government in the United States is allowed to establish religion, whether national, state, or local. Your town can no more call itself a "Christian town" than the United States can call itself a "Christian nation." <br><br>Additionally, if one looks at the <i>principles</i> of the Constitution, preventing Christians (or any other religion) from imposing their religious views on others at the state or local level is completely in line with those principles. The Constitution makes the principle clear, even if it took a hundred and fifty years to put it into legal practice: Church and state should be separate, period, end of story. Keep religion out of the state, and the state out of religion.<br><br><i>Admittedly, the job is not completely done, and I will grant you that our court system played an important role. But it did not play the primary role. Christians did - and in fact, the spiritual and moral authority of Rev. Dr. King's speeches are what gives them such power even today. </i><br><br>It's just not that simple. Christians also stood <i>against</i> the civil rights movement: Christians like Jerry Falwell, who preached in 1965 specifically against Dr. King's efforts. The civil rights movement was multiethnic <i>and</i> multireligious (witness Abraham Joshua Heschel standing hand in hand with Dr. King, and the influential role of Islamic leaders in civil rights); the racism movement that stood against Dr. King was (and still is) almost universally white and almost universally conservative Christians.<br><br><i>But such a unilateral action (combined with severe condemnation of the attacks) would demonstrate that the Muslims really mean it when they tell Americans that theirs is a religion of "peace."</i><br><br>Why should building a community center (which includes a Muslim prayer room) near the site of the former WTC be incompatible with being a religion of peace? Does the presence of churches near the sites of acts of Christian terrorism like OKC, Millennium Park, and lynching sites make it impossible that Christianity is a religion of peace?<br><br><i>Because I'm tired of hearing this about Islam; I want to see it put into action by Islam's followers.</i><br><br>ummm... you do realize that only 20 people crashed the planes on 9/11, right? Out of a religion of billions? The vast, vast majority of Muslims live lives of peace every single day. If you propose that the vast majority of peaceful Muslims be held responsible for the acts of the small minority of violent ones, then you should go to your local police office and turn yourself in for the murder of Dr. Tiller, the Millennium Park bombing, and every lynching that ever took place. By the same measure you judge, so too will you be judged. If you hold all Muslims responsible for any Muslim who does evil, you must hold yourself responsible for any Christian who does evil.<br><br><i>Frankly, I can see why many free Americans take umbrage when a religion that bombed our nation without provocation wants to build a monument to their religion so near that very spot.</i><br><br>Odd, I don't remember all of Islam "bombing our nation without provocation." I remember 20 Muslims hijacking airplanes and crashing them into buildings. 20 out of a religion of billions. <i>Islam</i> no more attacked America on 9/11/01 than <i>Christianity</i> attacked America on 4/19/95. Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf did not commit the 9/11 attacks any more than you set the bomb in Millennium Park. Why should he be held responsible for 9/11?<br><br><i>It harms Islam because people gape and wonder, "Why on earth would they build there, of all places?"</i><br><br>If all they do is gape and wonder, then they're pathetically ignorant. If they bothered to educate themselves even a little bit about Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf's reasons for locating Park51/Cordoba House where he chose to locate it, they would understand <i>exactly</i> why it needs to be there, of all places.<br><br>Islamic fundamentalist terrorists rejoice when they see scenes like the mob the other day attacking an innocent man because he looked like he could be Muslim. They rejoice when they see American charlatan "leaders" denouncing the Park51/Cordoba House project and Islam in general. They rejoice because <i>you're just giving them more ammo</i> for their contention that the West <i>does</i> hate them and<i>does</i> want to destroy them, that the West <i>is</i> intolerant of Islam. <br><br>I will say this quite plainly and openly: If you oppose the Park51/Cordoba House project, it is you, not Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, who are helping those who committed the 9/11 attacks. It is your attitude and actions, not his, that need to change.

Jamesggilmore
August 24, 2010

<i>And as Rick pointed out in an earlier post, there are zoning laws and other legal mechanisms which still honor freedom but also honor the "sentiments" of many of the people involved here. </i><br><br>If those zoning laws and other legal mechanisms discriminate between religions, telling one religion something is acceptable while telling another religion that the same thing is forbidden, then those laws and mechanisms are unjust and out of line with our Constitution - and need to be changed.

Kittyguest
August 24, 2010

The last time I looked, an American citizen, however young, has the freedom of speech. Even if some disagree with his/her speech. It is ridiculous to the extreme to say that Congress is establishing a religion if a student speaks of Christ or God in a graduation speech. By the way, that PA system is not merely GOVERNMENT property - it is OUR property. It belongs to the taxpayers of this country. We bought it. If you are adamant insisting that it's okay to take monies from people of faith and then promote educational systems that silence these very people's speech, then it is really you who do not want freedom in this nation, James. No matter how much you may protest to the contrary.<br><br>I do not know what newspapers you read, what magazines you read, what news programs you watch. But I remember when 911 happened. And I remember reading and watching as Muslims around the globe celebrated. They rejoiced. These were not isolated pockets of Muslims, these were whole communities coming out to laud the 20 cowards who attacked the U.S. Yes I am aware that some Muslims were against the attacks. I have even had the privelige of hearing some stand up to condemn terrorism in all forms. But it says a great deal that these men are in the vast minority (and that they are all men - but, we won't go there right now).<br><br>I do not "give [the Islamic fundamentalist terrorists] more ammo" by my stand re: the mosque near Ground Zero. I'm a woman, James. I'm an offense to them by speaking in the first place. But as long as Americans are not under dhimmi, those guys have all the ammo they need to hate our guts. Those Muslims who do not justify the 9/11 attacks will understand exactly where Americans' outrage comes from - and that brings me back to my original point: a unilateral action on the part of the Muslim leadership to build elsewhere in this case would speak volumes to Americans.

Jamesggilmore
August 25, 2010

<i>The last time I looked, an American citizen, however young, has the freedom of speech. Even if some disagree with his/her speech.</i><br><br>And if she chooses to speak and has her voice amplified using only resources she owns or resources freely given by other non-governmental entities, her freedom to speak is not infringed.<br><br><i>It is ridiculous to the extreme to say that Congress is establishing a religion if a student speaks of Christ or God in a graduation speech.</i><br><br>It is ridiculous to suggest that this one girl's right to free speech extends to her being able to impose her religious speech on other students at their own high school graduation, using microphones belonging to the school, at an official event for the school. It is a school-sponsored event; it should remain religion-free.<br><br><i>By the way, that PA system is not merely GOVERNMENT property - it is OUR property. It belongs to the taxpayers of this country. We bought it.</i><br><br>The taxpayers bought the equipment with the understanding that its use would be subject to the restrictions the law places on governmental entities. Those restrictions include the Constitution, which prohibits the government from supporting one religion over others.<br><br><i>If you are adamant insisting that it's okay to take monies from people of faith and then promote educational systems that silence these very people's speech, then it is really you who do not want freedom in this nation, James.</i><br><br>Their speech isn't being "silenced," any more than my not letting you sit in my living room and tell me what to think is "silencing" you. They are free to speak in whatever context they want, so long as that context doesn't use the resources of government - which the Constitution says can't be used for a single religion's purposes - to speak. They are being told that the school's microphones are not to be used to promote one person's religious views over another person's. I don't see how that limits their freedom at all. If she wants to speak her religion's views on her own time, nobody's stopping her.<br><br><i>I do not know what newspapers you read, what magazines you read, what news programs you watch. But I remember when 911 happened. And I remember reading and watching as Muslims around the globe celebrated. They rejoiced.</i><br><br>All Muslims, or just the ones they showed on television? Have you considered that the news media just might have been pulling that out of context? Or do you naïvely believe everything the American corporatist news media spoon-feeds you as Gospel truth?<br><br><i>Yes I am aware that some Muslims were against the attacks. I have even had the privelige of hearing some stand up to condemn terrorism in all forms.</i><br><br>Surely you are aware that Imam Faisal - the man behind the Park51 project - is one of those who has stood up to condemn terrorism in all its forms and call for greater understanding and brother/sisterhood between Christians, Jews, and Muslims, right? I would hate to think that you hadn't done your homework. Read <a href="http://www.gulf-daily-news.com/NewsDetails.aspx?storyid=285458" rel="nofollow">what he said</a> a few days ago:<br><br>"We are Christians, Jews and Muslims, but one of our faults is instead of worshipping God, we worship our religion and use that to cause division between us. The sense of brotherhood and unity that the prophets had for each other as servants of the true God is the primary lesson we should all learn. The demand is on us (Muslims) to feel a special brotherhood with the Christian and Jewish faiths and certainly our own."<br><br>Yeah, a real extremist, that one. Trying to impose Sharia on all of us by suggesting that we come together and understand one another instead of trying to blow each other up.<br><br><i>But it says a great deal that these men are in the vast minority (and that they are all men - but, we won't go there right now).</i><br><br>Good idea, not going there right now. "Remove the plank from your eye before removing the speck from the other man's eye."<br><br><i>I do not "give [the Islamic fundamentalist terrorists] more ammo" by my stand re: the mosque near Ground Zero. I'm a woman, James. I'm an offense to them by speaking in the first place.</i><br><br>You're an offense to many right-wing Christians by speaking in the first place, too - those who believe Paul when he says that women should remain silent. If you're going to rip terrorism and fundamentalism in Islam, rip terrorism and fundamentalism in Christianity as well. The "plank/speck" parable applies here as well. Don't forget that much of Christianity remains a backward religion with its own exclusion of women and LGBT people from leadership. Address the right-wing fundamentalist terrorists in your own religion before going after those in other religions.<br><br><i>But as long as Americans are not under dhimmi, those guys have all the ammo they need to hate our guts.</i><br><br>"Those guys"? Again, certainly there are Muslims who will hate the United States - but if you're suggesting that one of the reasons they hate us is for our religious inclusiveness and our freedom, wouldn't it be giving in to them to start giving in on religious inclusiveness and freedom in the name of false "security"?<br><br><i>Those Muslims who do not justify the 9/11 attacks will understand exactly where Americans' outrage comes from - and that brings me back to my original point: a unilateral action on the part of the Muslim leadership to build elsewhere in this case would speak volumes to Americans. </i><br><br>Again, you say "the Muslim leadership" as if there were a single body governing all of Islam. Would you ever talk about "the Christian leadership" in that manner? Is there any chance at all that you'll open your eyes and stop seeing Islam as a monolithic body, and start seeing it for all its multiplicity and diversity?<br><br>Finally, I ask this: Have you done your homework? Have you read or listened to the words of Imam Faisal as he talked about why he wants to locate Park51 where he wants to locate it? Have you looked into his views and his work? Or did you simply dismiss him out of hand as "Muslim = terrorist sympathizer = thumb in the eye of 9/11 victims," as the right-wing charlatans and clowns wanted you to?

Kittyguest
August 25, 2010

Yes, James, I "did my homework."<br>And I am still against the mosque being built.

Kjml
August 26, 2010

We are a nation of law, at least in name and intent if not always in actions. I don't believe the Muslim Community Center, a few blocks away, will in any way inhibit, prevent, or mar the grief, meditation, and prayers of visitors to Ground Zero. <br> As Christians, we have begun to know the taste of hatred and discrimination based on misrepresentation and bias against our faith. Do we really want to commit those same crimes ourselves? <br> It hurts my heart that so many people are turning to Islam, which to my mind offers no true hope, but that pain is related to the pain that the Lord must feel as he watches them bring suffering upon themselves through their choices. How many would still make that choice, if the face of Christ that they saw [in us] was one of love and acceptance? <br> Is it a painful and frightening choice to love one's "enemy?" Of course it is. Are we called to do it anyway? Yup.

Frank Nicodem
August 27, 2010

a good summary:<br><br><a href="http://www.worldmag.com/images/content/Ramirez08201.jpg" rel="nofollow">http://www.worldmag.com/images...</a><br><br>I don't want to talk about the legality or the rights of either side. In fact, I can see that posting my opinion here will likely either be combated by an emotional "how dare they do that" or a self righteous overly quotation heavy proof of "i went to law school and could get OJ off the hook just to prove i could". At the end of the day, though, I feel that if the shoe WAS on the other foot, it would be a different story. A good amount of times, someone has been intent on doing something and then it was found out that this Christian or whatever building or person or event might not be very "courteous" and so we take stock and decide to back down. I think that's why the comic speaks to me. I'm actually not saying anything is wrong or illegal. its not. and as has been mentioned both politely and rudely here, that can in fact be "the end of it". But as we've been told far too many times to count, just because its legal doesn't mean its right, and perhaps there are enough reasons for them to say "we had every right, but we understand this better now and will rethink our strategy".

Nael
September 19, 2010

Al Salam Alikum<br>I found this Blog by chance , read alot of Articles , Comments here .<br>I will Appreciate if you accept my comment here .<br>I am a muslim 33 years old , Syrian.<br><br>Most brothers here give Saudia Arabia as an example to islam extravagance but please you have to know that Saudia arabia is 10 million person only while muslim are 1.5 bilion person , so you can not make this small ratio as example for all muslim, beside there is churchs in all other muslim and arab countries for 1431 years, that mean befor America itself explored. we in muslim and arab countries protect christian as a religion and as our brothers, what happen now is political issue not a believe issue , we give Christianity to the world , Moses,Jesus,and Mouhammed came from our land.<br><br>sorry for my bad English ( I used a Dictionary to write here )<br><br>Thank you all<br>

Kittyguest
September 20, 2010

Hi, Nael -<br><br>Thank you so much for your post, it was exciting for me to see your comments.<br><br>What do you think of the actual building of a mosque near Ground Zero? Is there a lot of talk of this in Syria? Are you a Sufi Muslim? <br>I know there are churches all over the Middle East, but what if a Muslim converts to Christianity? Do they suffer job loss, family &amp; friend loss, etc? <br><br>Your English is very good - thank you again for your post.

Nael
September 21, 2010

Dear Kittyguest<br><br>Actually there is no alot of discussion about this masjid ( mosque ) Here in Syria, Most of us waiting to see how American liberty will expose it self,But finally human feeling and background will express it self clearly, Religion is very powerful in Arab &amp; Islamic world , We are looking to the whole world through religious eye ( corner). We lived together Muslim &amp; non Muslim peacefully for Hundred years but it is very difficult to accept some one who change his religion if he works at public sector no one will fire him but i am not sure about private sector, same thing about friends some people will accept and other will ignore him. but family sure will not accept this. you know here we still proud in big families. About me am not Sufi I am Sunni . Back to NYC Masjid I prefer to spend this money by covering World trade center by flowers because any other action will hurt victims family , But as you know better than me this is America and you have a freedom to do what you want<br><br>I really appreciate your comment about my English , But really thanks for Dictionaries.

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