Archive for the ‘mosque at WTC’ tag
So, let me get this straight. Folks like Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich and the American Center for Law and Justice (a conservative, religious foil of the ACLU, the real bastion of constitutional conformity) have spoken out against a mosque and community center being built two blocks from the former World Trade Center site when we in America claim religious freedom as one of our tantamount national precepts?
Do I have to dig out some Jefferson quotes on the issue? OK, fine:
Believing that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legislative powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their Legislature should “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” thus building a wall of separation between Church and State (Letter to the Danbury Baptists, 1802).
We have solved by fair experiment the great and interesting question whether freedom of religion is compatible with order in government and obedience to the laws. And we have experienced the quiet as well as the comfort which results from leaving every one to profess freely and openly those principles of religion which are the inductions of his own reason and the serious convictions of his own inquiries (Letter to the Virginia Baptists, 1808).
I do not believe it is for the interest of religion to invite the civil magistrate to direct its exercises, its discipline, or its doctrines; nor of the religious societies that the general government should be invested with the power of effecting any uniformity of time or matter among them. Fasting and prayer are religious exercises. The enjoining them, an act of discipline. Every religious society has a right to determine for itself the times for these exercises and the objects proper for them according to their own particular tenets; and this right can never be safer than in their own hands where the Constitution has deposited it… Every one must act according to the dictates of his own reason, and mine tells me that civil powers alone have been given to the President of the United States, and no authority to direct the religious exercises of his constituents (letter to Samuel Miller, Jan. 23, 1808).
Palin on her Facebook page had this to say about the potential mosque coming to Manhattan:
No one is disputing that America stands for – and should stand for – religious tolerance. (Actually, it’s religious freedom, not mere tolerance.) It is a foundation of our republic. This is not an issue of religious tolerance but of common moral sense. To build a mosque at Ground Zero is a stab in the heart of the families of the innocent victims of those horrific attacks. Just days after 9/11, the spiritual leader of the organization that wants to build the mosque, Imam Faisal Abdul Rauf, suggested that blame be placed on the innocents when he stated that the “United States’ policies were an accessory to the crime that happened” and that “in the most direct sense, Osama bin Laden is made in the USA.”
No one is disputing that Muslims are deluded (but no more than believers in any other religion). But to deny them rights afforded to Christians, Jews, Mormons and many others (That is, the right to congregate) is incongruent to we as a people and our constitution. Is adding the mosque to the location in bad taste? Possibly, but that’s a subjective judgement call at best. It’s close to the WTC site, but not on the site, so it should probably be afforded the same freedom as any other believers seeking to erect a mosque. And Palin’s Facebook statement that:
To build a mosque at Ground Zero is a stab in the heart of the families of the innocent victims of those horrific attacks.
is wrong on at least one important point. It’s not going to be at Ground Zero, and her tendency to get things wrong, and my tendency to point them out, is getting tiring. So, I scarce see how a church site not at Ground Zero, but down the street, will “stab in the heart” the 9/11 victims’ families.
And to say that Osama bin Laden is “made in the USA” probably isn’t all that inaccurate:
The BBC, in an article published shortly after the 9/11 attacks, stated that bin Laden “received security training from the CIA itself, according to Middle Eastern analyst Hazhir Teimourian.”
In a 2003 article, Michael Powelson of the Russian journal Demokratizatsiya wrote:
“It is difficult to believe that the United States played no role in the operations of the son of one of the wealthiest men in Saudi Arabia. Indeed, it is much more likely that the United States knew full-well of bin Laden’s operation and gave it all the support they could.”
A 2004 BBC article entitled “Al-Qaeda’s origins and links”, the BBC wrote:
“During the anti-Soviet jihad Bin Laden and his fighters received American and Saudi funding. Some analysts believe Bin Laden himself had security training from the CIA.”
“Bin Laden apparently received training from the CIA, which was backing the Afghan holy warriors – the mujahedeen – who were tying down Soviet forces in Afghanistan.”
New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg defended the addition of the mosque in lower Manhattan, saying in a recent address:
Whatever you may think of the proposed mosque and community center, lost in the heat of the debate has been a basic question – should government attempt to deny private citizens the right to build a house of worship on private property based on their particular religion? That may happen in other countries, but we should never allow it to happen here. This nation was founded on the principle that the government must never choose between religions, or favor one over another.
The World Trade Center Site will forever hold a special place in our City, in our hearts. But we would be untrue to the best part of ourselves – and who we are as New Yorkers and Americans – if we said ‘no’ to a mosque in Lower Manhattan.
The ACLJ, never an organization to let the pesky axioms of freedom of religion get in the way of sequestering other faiths with which its officials don’t agree, had this to say:
It has been clear from the beginning that the city has engaged in a rush to push this project through – ignoring proper procedure and ignoring a growing number of New Yorkers and Americans who don’t believe this site is the place to build a mosque. We’re poised to file legal action on behalf of our client to challenge this flawed decision and put a stop to this project.
It’s as if the ACLJ is claiming the city of New York is engaged in a gigantic conspiracy to ram through some sort of Islamic message. Absolutely absurd. And it doesn’t matter how New Yorkers or Americans feel about the mosque being located near the 9/11 site. Our constitution protects a person’s right to worship just about anywhere and at anytime and a group of people’s right to religious assemble. A believer, Christian, Jew or Muslim, can technically worship or preach or whatever right in front of the 9/11 site if he so chooses. A mosque down the street? Big deal. But just watch as this continues to develop. Some stupid evangelical or wahoo may bomb the mosque out of spite, thus inciting new waves of Muslim versus everyone else hysteria. Religion is, after all, on a collision course to usher in the destruction of us all, either physically, or if that doesn’t do the trick, spiritually. Or heck, both.