Wednesday, June 30, 2010


American Muslims want to open a mosque in lower Manhattan near ground zero and

two more in Brooklyn and Staten Island. In a nation where religious freedom is cherished,

in a country where tolerance is a key tenet, in a union where we pride ourselves on not having

the sectarian conflicts so prevalent in other parts of the world; the people of New York

welcomed the chance to open new houses of worship...right?

There have been community meetings about all the proposals. The New York Times

reports some people objected to increased traffic and parking concerns. However, the vast

majority of objections have been over concerns involving terrorism, Islam, and the connection

between the two. The most strident meeting was on Staten Island, where a Catholic parish

wishes to sell the convent to a Muslim group to be used for Friday prayer. According to the

Times, similar protests about new mosques have broken out in Tennessee, Wisconsin, and


About four hundred people showed up to protest opening the new mosque on Staten

Island. They accused the Muslim-American Society, the umbrella organization which finds

placement for new mosques, of being on the FBI terrorist watch list. (It isn't.) They demanded

the Muslims present condemn Hamas and Hezbollah. In response, the Muslim moderator

said he denounced any form of terrorism, all acts of terror by individuals or governments.

At one point, a Marine Lance Corporal just back from Afghanistan stood up. He was cheered.

He asked the Muslim panel if they would work to form a bond with the community? They

answered yes. He turned and asked the crowd the same question and they booed him and

shouted "No!'

Imagine a Jewish group wanting to open a new synagogue on Staten Island. There is a

meeting with a panel of rabbis. They are asked about their view on whether Jewish law is

better than democracy. Will they follow God's laws or America's laws? They are asked about

their view of women and how they are treated in orthodox communities where they are second

class citizens and are not allowed to pray in a minyan with men and do the rabbis consider

women to be equal to men? They are then asked to condemn Israel's recent attack on ships

trying to resupply Gaza and whether they were in favor or opposed to the assassination of

Yitzhak Rabin? Those asking the questions would be accused of rampant anti-semitism,

racism, and prejudice. They would definitely be denounced in the media and in some

communities, as narrow-minded bigots.

Suppose an evangelical Protestant group wanted to open a new church on the island.

Would it be appropriate to ask them if they favor the bombing of planned parenthood clinics?

Would they have to denounce the terrorism campaign being waged in this country against

doctors who perform abortions, a campaign with its roots in evangelical churches across

this nation? Should the people of Staten Island worry about doctors being assassinated while

standing in their kitchen or while they are ushers at their local church? Not in a million years

would anyone get away with questions like that because they would be accused of painting all

Christians with the same brush. We would be reminded how Christianity is not a monolithic

religion, how this is America where people are allowed to believe differently, where people are

allowed to disagree, and a place where no one is judged for the actions of a few extremists.

What if the Catholic parish selling the convent wanted to open a new school instead.

Would hundreds of angry protesters show up to try to stop it? Would they attack a panel of

bishops and priests demanding to know if they denounce child abuse and covering up sexual

scandals? Would the priests be asked their views on women who are denied the ability to be

priests and whom the Church does not believe should control their own reproductive lives?

What would the panel say about the rights of gays and lesbians? Would their children be

allowed to attend the school? Do the priests consider homosexuality to be a morally inherent

evil? What about the call to excommunicate any politician who is pro-choice? Does the Roman

Catholic Church believe in separation of church and state? And what about the six Catholic

members currently serving on our nation's highest court? Should they have been asked in

confirmation hearings if their personal religious beliefs will influence their interpretation of

our Constitution?

Compared to Muslims, Jews, evangelical Christians, and Catholics would face few if any

questions. The end result being, that it would be rare indeed for any of these groups to be

denied a new church, school, or synagogue because of their religion's faith and tenets.

The people who are angry, scared, or worried about the opening of new mosques are

hypocrites of the highest order. They make the Pharisees look like a picture of tolerance.

Oddly, their fear is well-founded, but misplaced. The real boogey-man they are frightened by

is fundamentalism. Fundamentalist Jews, Christians, or Muslims are a real threat to American

values. We have nothing to fear from Muslims, Christians, or Jews who practice their faith

based on tolerance, love, forgiveness, and care. However, we have everything to fear from

radically intolerant fundamentalists who believe they are right and everyone else is wrong.

America already has its own homegrown terrorists. Those illiterate Americans whose

theological education never went beyond Sunday school. The people in that audience which

met on Staten Island are no better than fundamentalists. To hear them tell it, it's always the

"other" religion that is the religion of violence, terror, etc.; while their radical belief is

somehow God's will and therefore acceptable.

The scene in New York shows once again that most Americans don't deserve America,

that most religious Americans are no different than the Pharisees of Jesus' time, and that they

are in direct line for judgment in how they have treated others. God's promise. And by the

way, the position of any Muslim on the legitimacy or continued existence of the state of Israel

has no place in the debate over a new mosque. This is America and Muslims have the right to

believe anything they wish vis-a-vis international politics. What do you think? I welcome

your comments and rebuttals. Please send them to


  1. Well put, It reminds of a Sunday God talk topic and news talk subject combined.
    Take Care and Best Wishes Bernie

  2. Bernie, your post overlooks one extremely important factor.
    Let me introduce my thought by calling attention to these words of yours:
    "The people who are angry, scared, or worried about the opening of new mosques are hypocrites of the highest order. They make the Pharisees look like a picture of tolerance."

    Bernie, you have erred here because you are in the act of Rash Judgment. It is fine that you talk about what these people say or do, but when you get into "... are hypocrites of the highest order", you do not know what you are talking about. You don't. There is no evidence that these people are hypocrites.
    You could argue that what they are doing or saying contradicts the core values of their professed religion, but you can't judge them for it.
    To make that more clear, let me propose an alternative: They are scared. SCARED. In Mortal FEAR. They have been well conditioned - programmed - to accept as a core belief that Muslims are prone to violence, FED TO US BY OUR EXECUTIVES FROM 2001 TO THE PRESENT, WHO KEEP REFERRING TO 9/11 AS THE WORK OF 'Muslim Extremists' who killed 3000 of us on 9/11.
    Why did Obama accept the resignation of Van Jones, just because in 2004 Jones signed a petition calling for the reopening of the 9/11 investigation. Why did that make him unfit for service in a branch of the government that provides for Green Jobs, something about which Van Jones knows a lot?
    How did George W. Bush put it? ... "Beware of outrageous conspiracy theories regarding the events of 9/11, ... involving? the innocent while hiding the guilty."
    This is nonsense on the face of it; when people call for an objective look into JUST EXACTLY WHAT HAPPENED, they are not implicating anyone. Of course, once it is understood that there is no way that jet fuel under these conditions of limited oxygen could somehow break up hundreds of very heavy duty steel columns into pieces hurled out horizontally into the sides of neighboring buildings ... then that indeed begs more questions that could indeed incriminate "the innocent". It would not be the first time a false-flag event was used by leaders to whip up the populace into a warlike frenzy.
    'THE MOTHER OF ALL ISSUES' is what some have called 9/11, and the more so-called 'progressives' avoid even bringing up the issue, the more convinced I become of the depth of the programming that has been going on.
    Come on, people, read George Orwell's 1984 again, and notice that your conviction that this could not happen here is all the more evidence that it has indeed happened here.