the mosque

140 characters isn’t enough room to have this discussion. @jonarnold noted today:

Love this Bloomberg speech in reference to the NYC Mosque at Ground Zero. Incredible job. Bravo:

Honestly, it’s a good speech that Bloomberg gave. I don’t disagree with the sentiment that we are called to live amongst our neighbors in mutual respect and tolerance. I try to do that, to the degree that I can without compromising what I believe to be truth.

Those who support the mosque point to this debate being a freedom of religion issue, and that to deny the building of a mosque at Ground Zero in New York City would be to undermine the First Amendment of the Constitution.

Freedom of religion is crucial. I don’t want to see it undermined. I don’t want it undermined for Jews and Muslims just as much as I don’t want it undermined for me as a Christian.

But I don’t think the core issue here is freedom of religion. To me this is an issue of respect. Extremist Muslims bent on jihad destroyed the World Trade Center and killed 3,000 people on September 11, 2001.

To turn around and build a 13-story Islamic mosque right next door feels like a slap in the face. It feels like a monument to “success”. It feels like rubbing salt in the wound.

I haven’t heard anyone who is opposed to the building of this mosque say that Muslims should not build a mosque anywhere in New York City. Why does it have to be mere feet from Ground Zero? So close in fact that the existing building actually sustained damage from the Trade Center’s collapse! Build it 10 blocks away, or a mile away… but really, next door?

There are millions of “peace loving Muslims” in the world. I would think their first order of business ought to be to take a bold stance against their Muslim brothers who do not stand for peace and kindness and decry the acts of violence against humanity that continue in the world today as a result of their extremist religious views.

But as it stands, the first notable public act of “peace loving Muslims” in the last 10 years is to build a monument at Ground Zero to the religion for which the date of 9/11 will always be attributed to.

And that feels wrong to me.

[And yes Jon, we do respect each other. Absolutely.]

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  1. The only problem with agreeing with a sentiment in this particular case is that “sentiment” is a noun. Being “called to live amongst our neighbors in mutual respect and tolerance” implies action. That type of action needs a verb, otherwise you’re left with what I would call a sentimental religion and a sentimental Jesus.

    To me, this issue certainly has a lot to do with freedoms and principalities and things of human construction. But above all of that I believe what is really at stake is what type of religion do we have? What kind of God have we created?

    One of sentiment? Or one of love? Because mere tolerance is not enough.

    I don’t have a need for a sentimental god. A religion that claims to love and at the same time keeps its neighbors at arms length is impotent.

    God help us if we start to keep score of atrocities done in religions name, I dare say there would be few places on earth a Christian, let alone his church, would be welcome.

  2. @Shawn I don’t view this as a freedoms issue because I believe they have every right to build what they want where they want to (within the law). Their plan was approved by the commission and so be it.

    My frustration is that the planners of this development do not recognize the sensitivity that coincides this particular plot of land.

    We’re calling for mutual respect, right? We’ll respect your freedom and let you build the mosque there. But come with your own sense of respect and realize that you probably shouldn’t build the mosque there!

    • Jim
    • August 4th, 2010

    I don’t understand why people keep comparing extremists to regular followers of Islam. That’s like assuming all Christians are like that idiot group that pickets funerals of US soldiers.

    Personally the problem is a huge misunderstanding of Islam in this country. The religion is not that different at all from Christianity and Judaism, and anyone who says otherwise has not read the Koran. And personally, having grown up Catholic, I have found most Muslims to be more devout and dedicated to their religion than Catholics.

    I’m not Catholic anymore and I personally find St Patrick’s Cathedral in NYC a bit unnerving. But its approved, there is obviously a community for it, it works great for other people.

  3. @Jim I made no such comparison between extremists and “regular followers” of Islam. And to say Christianity, Judaism and Islam are “not all that different” shows a dramatic misunderstanding of the basic tenants of each.

    That said, I agree, as Americans we do lack understanding of Islam, and there is a lot of fear associated with it. That’s why the Muslim community would do well to be outspoken in terms of the denunciation of their militant counterparts, and lead the way in routing out terrorism throughout the world. I don’t feel like we’ve really seen that coming from the Islamic community.

    At the same time I feel like we’ve seen the American people be very tolerant, and have sought to be very understanding in the wake of very difficult circumstances. I think the conversation about this topic on this blog and earlier today from our friends on twitter demonstrate that.

    • Jim
    • August 5th, 2010

    I’ll agree you personally did not make that comparison, so my apologies there.

    I just feel that having to expect someone to have to be outspoken to defend their faith is a bit over the top. It really should not be that hard for the average person to differentiate between Extremists and normal people. And while most Islamist do not agree with extremists, imagine the scenario from there perspective:

    1. Its their religious homeland.
    2. Its their ancestral homeland.

    I agree there should be a bit of outrage from Muslims over extremists in their homeland, but there is definitely definitely conflict between the few extremists and the larger picture of supporting the basis of the entire religion (Mecca, Medina, etc).

    Some Americans are tolerant, but honestly I don’t think there is enough there. And I have seen Muslims speak out, I feel that’s more a media thing. But this building is two blocks from the WTC, not next door, so i really don’t understand whats bad about it.

    And finally, the religions are all based on love for your neighbor and worship to the same one God, so yes they are very similar (now certain branches of each are not). I got the Koran for $10 off Amazon, its a weird, kinda hard read but I do recommend it.