Christianity vs. NYC Mosque

I have been doing a lot of debate on this subject in the last while, mainly on Chad Estes blog ‘Won’t You Be My Neighbor?’

I am starting to wonder, do Christians want these people as neighbors? Here is an excerpt I put on that blog:

Let me reiterate: there is nothing loving about passivity, because love is active.” (Matthew)

There is not much passive about what I am saying, I stand 100% behind them in building that mosque – as you point out – wherever they would like…just happens they like the spot they picked. I don’t see why it such an issue for them to have a mosque at that spot, unless people are reading more into their construction of this building than is really there.

And the opposition of them building a mosque is a problem, because the issue is not the mosque as much as it is the placement of that mosque…explain to me why that is even an issue…and once you do you will likely arrive at a spot of bigotry or discrimination (or mis-information). Question is, is there where a Christian wants to be standing?

The debate is about the good samaritan and Chad’s take on that – in essence – an updated version that has a Muslim not being helped by various religious groups. In this case, the mosque being at the pinnacle of the debate because basically it’s a mosque close to ground zero – an American commemorative spot – and Muslims shouldn’t be that close to something that important. In the end, it’s discrimination, if not bigotry, blanketing all Muslims under the same definition (generalizing) – which they disagree with.

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119 thoughts on “Christianity vs. NYC Mosque

  1. How close should a neo-Nazi club be to a Jewish Synagogue? There is no Japanese embassy near Pearl Harbor. Would a US embassy at Hiroshima not be seen as inappropriate?

    The issue for me is not about the religion but about the sensitivity of those who lost close ones from the disaster there. These Muslims didn’t commit those acts, but the religion that they are part of did. In time, it might not be as sensitive of an issue, but right now, the healing is not over.

  2. […] unless people are reading more into their construction of this building than is really there. […] it’s discrimination, if not bigotry, blanketing all Muslims under the same definition (generalizing) – which they disagree with.

    Rubbish. Dangerous rubbish.

    Have you considered that it’s not a matter of people reading more into it, but that its construction is to read more into it than all this accommodationistic crap religious moderates are spewing all over the web?

    That a mosque can be built legally is not the issue. It can be built. The question is whether it should be built for what it represents.

    You conveniently avoid that the towers were brought down by an attack carried out entirely by dedicated group of suicidal wahhabists. That’s islam in action… the same sect out of Saudi Arabia that not only funds bin Laden but funds to the tune of billions of dollars per year the global expansion of mosques and islamic schools and islamic community outreach programs and DVDs and books and promotional materials for wahhabism around the world. The purpose is not altruistic: its to spread wahhabism.

    The reason why the Cordoba Initiative will not tell us who is funding the 100 million dollar mosque (and community center) renamed from Cordoba House to Park51 (what does Cordoba represent to muslims around the world?) is revealing. A founding member of the Canadian Muslim Council has publicly asked and received no answer except private threats for doing so. This is SOP for Muslim Brotherhood activities. We can safely assume it is funded by the Saudis and it is being built to be a symbol not of just another mosque but as a crowning achievement similar to what Cordoba means to the rest of the muslim world: victory over the infidel. That idea needs to be passionately criticized for the insult it is intended to be.

    I sometimes think religious moderates have spent too much time with their heads inside a paint can shaker and simply can’t think straight. They have a rose-coloured vision of a kumbaya world and believe it’s true. It’s not. There are some very nasty people out there who have an agenda and who are willing to act on its furtherance. And the agenda of islam plainly written in the Qu’ran for all to see that entirely motivates wahhabism is to achieve victory over the unbelievers and have all submit to the will of allah. Western secular democracies and the rights and freedoms we exercise stand in direct opposition to this goal. That makes us legitimate targets for jihad… just the WTC attack. No amount of self-emasculating religious tolerance will change this fact.

    When you present the arguments about the appropriateness of building Park51 as either tolerance or bigotry – a tolerance you think deserves widespread and active support from the religious – you are actively supporting exactly that which most threatens you and your religious freedom. That’s very dangerous not just for you but for all of us who live in the west. Just because it’s legal doesn’t make it right and it certainly does not make it appropriate.

    • if they were Wahbi’s i would have a problem with it. but their not. Nazi’s were largely Christian, so i’ll lump you in with them. and your name sounds Arab. so you’re an Arab Nazi! SVS don’t let him comment any more! silence him!

      see how easy scapegoating works? this is not the way of Christ nor is it what we’re called to do. you forget the gospel.

      • you’ll need to explain that one. plus it has been said that forgiveness is the act of remembering history in order to forget it. that’d be Nelson Mandela. i think he’s on the right track.

      • Perhaps you don’t understand islam. There is no such thing like ‘moderate’ and ‘fundamentalist’ islam in the familiar sense of moderate and fundamentalist christians. Call a muslim a moderate and you may cause offense; there are good muslims and bad. The good ones follow the teachings of the qu’ran which is the perfect word of allah. They submit. The bad ones… not so much. Of course, many muslims do not fully endorse or put into practice the teachings but you will not hear them criticize the teachings from the qu’ran or those who carry out its instructions. They may bemoan another terrorist attack and those killed or injured by it but very few (and courageous) muslims will actually criticize the scriptural theology that motivates it. And until that changes, I’m afraid the religion is in opposition to your right to believe what you do and to worship as you see fit. That’s not bigotry, but it is discrimination… and for very good reasons. The attack of 9/11 was motivated solely by wahhabism, which is a branch of islam that holds both sunni and shia in contempt for preaching false tolerance of the intolerable… namely any willingness to tolerate you as an unbeliever.

  3. “How close should a neo-Nazi club be to a Jewish Synagogue? There is no Japanese embassy near Pearl Harbor. Would a US embassy at Hiroshima not be seen as inappropriate?” -Xander

    that’s tired tripe. we’re not talking about a nation-state nor religion as a whole. even the lutherans in Germany still had dissenters among them. scapegoating at it’s finest. it’s not even at Ground Zero, but two blocks away and has been for sometime. get the facts.

    To associate an entire religion with the atrocities of a few within (&/or, in the case of Christianity, a particularly dark few-hundred years of it’s history) with the entirety of that religion’s practitioners is ludicrous, is zenophobic, is cultural Darwinism, is antithetical to the hope/dream of an America built on religious freedom & the seperation of church & state, is primrose path built on the good (?) intention(s) of helping the victims of the horror of 9/11 to avoid further reminders of their victimizers, but…(more)
    when one thinks this way, one is:
    1.) belying the reality that most of this is purely rhetoric to shore-up votes & practice a strange, sound-bite scape-goating;
    2.) forgetful of the bloody histories of most of the world’s cultures/religions/empires;
    3.) CONSTITUTIONALLY UNSOUND
    4.) bad logic (as it is a rejection of the free-market system which many of those espousing this line vociferously defend);
    5.) an uncritical lumping-together of a diverse, global population that has been chief among those who have furthered the greatest advances in science, literature, mathematics, architecture, philosophy and multi-cultural movements for peace that neither wattered-down the idealogical presuppositions of any nor condoned those traditions with which they did not agree.

    I could keep going (and in a more articulate fashion), but my son just woke-up & I need to get around to the work of “teaching him in the way he should go”…namely, in The Way of Jesus: The Prince of PEACE!

    what a better way to go about forgiveness and reconciliation than to have a mosque there and to enter into dialog. or we could act in ungrace, and seek revenge and while we believe in religious freedom for us, we’ll take away theirs. that seems to be what Xander and the dissenters are saying.

  4. “that’s tired tripe. we’re not talking about a nation-state nor religion as a whole. even the lutherans in Germany still had dissenters among them. scapegoating at it’s finest. it’s not even at Ground Zero, but two blocks away and has been for sometime. get the facts.” – zero1ghost

    The facts are the plane’s landing gear actually struck the building on the site where the mosque will be built and fragments of bodies where cleaned up from there too. It might be two blocks away, but it is still part of the attack.

    The point I am trying to make is it is a sensitivity issue and not a legal issue. The Muslims have the legal right to be insensitive to the victims families and put up the mosque where ever they want. Should they is the issue. Personally, I don’t care if they build it there or on the site of the two towers itself, but I didn’t lose any loved ones in the attack either.

    • i notice that when conservatives are speaking about “sensitivities” it’s only about their own. can you be sensitive when it’s always about you? nor do i think Jesus was concerned about your sensitivity when he said “love your enemies, do good to those who hurt you.”

      needless to say, these muslims aren’t our enemies nor have they hurt us.

      • Since I have already stated this wasn’t about me, I think yes, I can be sensitive when it isn’t about me. Not sure when I claimed to be a conservative. Did I say I hated Muslims or anyone else? Your really being defensive about things that haven’t been said.

  5. “Rubbish. Dangerous rubbish.” (tildeb)

    You have a fear of moderates, thus why this would be dangerous rubbish. Why the fear exactly?

    “The question is whether it should be built for what it represents.” (tildeb)

    What do you think it represents? I have read some stuff on it – here are some of things it actually does represent:

    – The facility’s design includes a 500-seat auditorium, theater, performing arts center, fitness center, swimming pool, basketball court, childcare area, bookstore, culinary school, art studio, food court, September 11 memorial, and prayer space that could accommodate 1,000–2,000 people (Daily News, NY, Aug 1, 2010)

    – that it is modeled on the noted Manhattan Jewish community and cultural center (New Yorker, Aug 21, 2010)

    – The project’s sponsors explained that the original name of the center was meant to invoke 8th–11th century Córdoba, which they call a model of peaceful coexistence between Muslims, Christians, and Jews (NY Times, Aug, 2010)

    Where is this rhetoric you use coming from tildeb, well this might help inform you:

    – Protests were initially sparked by a campaign launched by bloggers Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer, critics of Islam and founders of the group Stop Islamization of America (Washington Post, Aug 19, 2010)

    Maybe you need to take a look at these bloggers and the site ‘stop the Islamization of America’…and maybe you will see moderates are not the problem here. Maybe you won’t, depends how honest you are with yourself.

  6. “You conveniently avoid that the towers were brought down by an attack carried out entirely by dedicated group of suicidal wahhabists” (tildeb)

    I’m not exactly avoiding it, it has nothing to do with the conversation of building a mosque. In the same way, building a church has nothing to do with anti-abortion activists that shoot doctors and torch buildings. These things are not one in the same.

    Funny, you rail against moderation and yet can you not see that the ‘suicidal wahhabists’ were radical fundamentalists! Had they had a more moderate stance it is absolutely possible 2700 people would not have died on 9/11.

    “We can safely assume it is funded by the Saudis and it is being built to be a symbol not of just another mosque but as a crowning achievement similar to what Cordoba means to the rest of the muslim world: victory over the infidel. That idea needs to be passionately criticized for the insult it is intended to be.” (tildeb)

    (a) You have no clue what Cordoba means – I have actually seen a show on the history of Spain (even did a blog a few weeks back on it)…Cordoba, if it means anything, would represent a renaisannce within 3 religions in middle ages Spain (which in fact sparked the enlightenment).

    (b) Victory? Islam has no victory over the West in any real regards as far as I can tell. In fact, the opposite is more true. America is basically in two Muslim territories and controlling them (Iraq and Afghanistan). So if 9/11 was to be some victory, it didn’t exactly work.

    (c) What you are claiming in your rhetoric is a ‘perspective’ and is not ‘fact’. You feel like this mosque is an ‘insult’ – but no one is claiming this is why they are doing this. I think you believe the media hype a little too much, best thing to do would be to get in contact with the people involved and see what is really going on.

    “And the agenda of islam plainly written in the Qu’ran for all to see that entirely motivates wahhabism is to achieve victory over the unbelievers and have all submit to the will of allah. Western secular democracies and the rights and freedoms we exercise stand in direct opposition to this goal” (tildeb)

    This is a contradiction. If Islam is only concerned with ‘wahhabism’ and ‘conversion of the infidel’, and is set against ‘democracy’…why are there so much Muslims in America? I kind of find it odd so many millions of Muslims would choose to live here if they are diametrically opposed to standards of America? Maybe you need to go out and meet some Muslims as well and ask them if this is the case.

    “That makes us legitimate targets for jihad…” (tildeb)

    Not really. What makes us targets for jihad is economic policy in the Muslim countries that see us get richer while they stay poor. Should check into it sometime, the Middle East is like 75% poverty stricken. Jihad may be closely tied to that stat than to one’s dis-like of democracy.

    “you are actively supporting exactly that which most threatens you and your religious freedom” (tildeb)

    So if I turn around and stop all Muslims from having anything – this will protect my religious freedom? Or is it just restricting my religious freedom? Think about it.

    • I am not proposing you ‘stop’ muslims from anything. I am suggesting that you stop looking at islam with rose-coloured glasses.

      I grew up living in many different countries where I went to various schools. I know many muslims and am friends with some. I humbly suggest that as far as understanding what the Cordoba Initiative stands for in the eyes of muslims around the world, you are deluded… in a nice apologist kind of way.

      Well, according to Answering Islam, the first Cordoba mosque was built in that Spanish city in the aftermath of the Muslim conquest of Christian Spain. This Islamic “Conquista” was followed by the killings of men, and the enslavement of women, many of whom were carried away to the Arab lands to work as servants and concubines for their Muslim masters. For both Arabs and Muslims, the history of their conquests remains as a symbol of their past glory, and power. That such a name was selected hardly indicates an example of community cohesion, nor does it imply anything to do with compassion, generosity, and respect for all. It represents religious conquest.

      No matter how often we are told that islam is the religion of peace, we must keep in mind that islam means submission to god according to the rules of the quaran. There is no peace, no respect, no compassion for anything or anyone other that those who agree to share this truth. Look to 9/11, 7/7, Madrid, Bali, the response to the Danish cartoons, Fort Hood, Mumbai, Times Square, and the endless blood spilled every day in its name and understand that what islam actually brings is not peace but the sword of conquest under the banner of religion. But don’t take my word for it: read the quaran for yourself and read the haddiths that explain the correct interpretation. This is a religion of conquest that upholds values antithetical to those afforded to individuals in the West under secular governments, hence the body bags for women called burkas we are told by religious appeasers to be a sign of healthy individual freedom of expression by those who wear it and by tolerating its use in the West we show respect for their equality of gender.

      Although many western imams will cherry pick a few phrases from the quaran that seem to be about peace and respect and generosity and social cohesion and integration and tolerance seemingly in tune with human rights and the dignity of personhood, the barbarism of this Iron age religion continues to be played out throughout the world with the hanging of gays in Tehran, the stoning of women accused of adultery, acid attacks on girls going to school, daily suicide bomb attacks to kill civilians, and so on. These human rights abuses are as much a part of islam in action as a nice and shiny new cultural center funded by muslims in New York City. What’s wrong with building Cordoba House is that we show tolerance of both when we choose to think ourselves sophisticated and tolerant to support the one.

    • You quote me writing “That makes us legitimate targets for jihad…” (tildeb)

      and respond with

      Not really. What makes us targets for jihad is economic policy in the Muslim countries that see us get richer while they stay poor. Should check into it sometime, the Middle East is like 75% poverty stricken. Jihad may be closely tied to that stat than to one’s dis-like of democracy.

      This is absolute bunk. The jihadists are not poor people under the terrible thumb of some overbearing capitalistic system: they are well educated well-to-do individuals who share a single ideology based entirely on the qu’ran: that infidels are worthy of death. You are an infidel: you figure out if such an ideology best exemplifies religious tolerance.

    • I agree that the Abrahamic religions now get along in Cordoba, but that has not always been the case. There was a long period of time in which Muslims oppressed both Jews and Christians in that area.

      I am curious as to why the project will no longer be named the Cordoba House anymore if the name has no negative connotations.

  7. “You are an infidel: you figure out if such an ideology best exemplifies religious tolerance” (tildeb)

    As compared to what exactly? Having no religion or having another religion? What religion exactly is this comparison to be made with?

    Fact is, I may very well be considered an ‘infidel’ to the Islamic religion, that being said, the one’s I know treat me pretty good and as an equal – even as a Christian (which is also a person of the book according to them).

    I won’t deny there are some huge problems in Islam, but as a Christian it is not my job to point those out – unless those actions are directly effecting the people around me. My response to this scenario is not political, but based on a kingdom ethic I believe in – equality.

    • Over at Butterflies and Wheels Edmund standing helps clarify why criticism of Islam is so important and why the symbol of Park 51 is an issue of sensitivity that needs criticism rather than painting this criticism as one of bigotry:

      Ultimately, Islam and the Qur’an do not pose problems because of ‘misinterpretation’, but rather because they belong to a world far from modernity and are actually of no relevance to modernity. Atheists have every right to point this out, even if it means criticising those who are nonetheless doing good work against extremism. Moderate Islam and moderate Quran’ic ‘interpretation’ offer no real bulwark against those who read the text of the Qur’an and take it at face value, as a perfect and divinely authored text. Only by acknowledging that any notion of a divinely authored book is simply false, by accepting the harsh reality that this book is in fact useless (and indeed dangerous) in the modern context, and by embracing human reason and freethinking will the curse of Islamic extremism ultimately be overcome.

  8. ” There is no such thing like ‘moderate’ and ‘fundamentalist’ islam in the familiar sense of moderate and fundamentalist christians.”

    i spent a lot of time in Egypt. That’s exactly how they describe their country… moderate. keep on the tirade, it’s doing wonders.

    • I, too, have spent time in Egypt and you’re absolutely right: Egyptians by and large live in a country that is relatively moderate. But I wasn’t ‘tirading’ (so to speak) about countries, Z. I was talking about religion.

      • You conflate “people criticizing Park 51” with “people who assume all Muslims are terrorists.” In short, it appears that, like so many others, you’re so quick to play the “Islamophobia” card that your thinking short-circuits whenever any perceived slight against any poor, oppressed Muslim appears.

  9. “Your really being defensive about things that haven’t been said.”

    don’t think so. who brought up the sensitivity issue? conservatives. way to drink the kool aide on your part.

  10. Personally, I think it is a sign of incredible insensitivity that there are churches in Jerusalem. Those rampaging crusaders following their so called religion of peace killed Jews right and left in the Rhineland and along the way to Jerusalem and then when they took over Jerusalem on July 15, 1099, they drove all the Jews into one of the synagogues and burned them alive! Yet we’re supposed to just stand by and let such a religion be practiced right where this happened? I’m outraged!! I need to make some signs and get out there!

    We must not be fooled by Christian leader’s selective quotes from their texts. Their religion teaches in the end we Jews will be slaughtered in an epic battle and then Christianity will reign triumphant while we are tormented forever! One need only look at history to see what Christianity is really all about, conquering and destroying anyone who stands in its way! Look at the churches history with Native Americans as yet another example of how much it just loves peace…What a bunch of deceptive liars they all are!

    BTW, at my shul we have police protection during the High Holy Days, not because of Muslim terrorists or neo-Nazis but because of those wonderful Christians who don’t want to leave us to follow our own religion in peace. And then they had the gall to open a church right down the street from us? How is it we missed protesting such a thing? Could it be that maybe most of us don’t get all worked up about such things? Well, I guess they didn’t kill us so that is different, although it is a Lebanese church so you know….I think we might have gotten fooled on this one…

    One a more serious note, Christians bugged us before this church was in place, now this church lets us use their parking lot. We are neighbors after all. Seems to me the WTC towers came down without that mosque being there so guess having a mosque or not having a mosque had little to do with that particular attack.

    Interesting article on Huff post addressing this whole mosque protest deal:
    “Via Twitter, Sarah Palin urged President Obama to weigh in on the Park 51 issue. Well, I urge Sarah Palin to weigh in on the strip club “at Ground Zero.” We’re waiting, Sarah. Will you campaign against the strip club? How about the gun shows that happen at Cox Pavilion, not far from the site of the Oklahoma City bombing? Or the shinto shrines a mile or two from Pearl Harbor?
    .
    .
    This general [Robert E. Lee] committed treason against the United States. By definition, he was a traitor who commanded a rebel army against the U.S. and inflicted unprecedented casualties. Specifically, General Lee’s invasion of the north and advance into Gettysburg was responsible for the aforementioned 23,040 United States military casualties, and, of those 23,040 casualties, 3,155 were killed on that ground.

    Yet there’s a statue at Gettysburg honoring the fiercest enemy of the United States at that time. Had Lee been victorious, the United States as we know it today would not exist. But he gets a statue on Pennsylvania soil — a statue which, by the way, stands at the exact same height as the statue to U.S. General George Gordon Meade, the commander of the Army of the Potomac (and a Pennsylvanian).” Ground Zero Mosque Opponents have a lot of work to do

    Weird how people used to think…

    • i see you haven’t progressed at all in your interfaith dialog. infact, you may have regressed. “Their religion teaches in the end we Jews will be slaughtered in an epic battle and then Christianity will reign triumphant while we are tormented forever”

      actually, no, if one reads the book of Revelation which you are refering to, we see the sides lined up for battle and then…. nothing happens. they walk away.

      each religion have done nasty things to one another. maybe that’s why forgiveness and reconsilitation should be made central. that’s what Christianity teaches, and in it’s best moments. actually does. albeit, rarely. we’d rather have justice than grace.

      • And I see you haven’t progressed in your ability to read! Please note my statement “On a more serious note.” When someone writes such a thing it means that what preceded it is not meant to be taken seriously. I was merely taking an extreme view of the teachings of some Christians to show how any group can demonize another; there is no one road that is only high and can never be low.

        In light of your response, I would have to agree with you on the lack of grace on the part of most Christians. We were once friends you know. 😛

      • you’re right, i haven’t progressed in my ability to read!!! eeek! i didn’t make it to the punchline.

        and we’re still friends…? you drop out of facebook?

      • When Facebook became part of my work I pretty much dropped out. I keep an account because that is the one through which I have admin rights to our shul’s wall. Crap, I was planning to update it today and I forgot…

        We haven’t interacted in a long time so I figured you’d moved on to more exciting conversations. Me, I’m mostly just chatting with non-religious women these days, having had it up to here with men – in true Monty Python fashion, except for Jason, of course! 😀

  11. The question isnt whether the mosque is “right”. The question is whether it is “Wise”. Its pretty clear just reading these little excerpts from this blog that it doesnt sit well with many people. I wonder if the people who suggested the building in the first place were “Wise” enough to see the controversy it would cause. If they were, then we might be getting a glimpse into what their real motives may be.

      • John,
        So, if any of us do things that we know will get the right wing nutjobs riled we should refrain from doing them or else we show ourselves to have some nefarious ‘real motives’ for our actions? Or is this paranoia only to be directed at Muslims, with the rest of us free to lay claim to the rights given us as American citizens?

  12. “These human rights abuses are as much a part of islam in action as a nice and shiny new cultural center funded by muslims in New York City.” (tildeb)

    I thought about this last night and maybe it’s really a perspective thing, but I know what I know on this issue.

    There are some handful of Islamic countries in the Middle East – lets say 7. They also have pretty big populations, let’s estimate 10 million per place (conservative on my part). That makes 70 million people (it’s likely triple but I don’t want to find all those stats).

    Now you mentioned a handful of abuses committed in these countries. Maybe that would some 0.001% of the population committing these abuses (70,000 people).

    Maybe it’s just me, but the percentages will never line up with ‘all of Islam’ is the problem.

    Also, you bring up these terrorists with funding and hpw prevelant they are in these countries. I said they were poverty stricken territories. Facts are, those countries are poorer than many nations on this planets. Yeah some terrorists got funding, again those fundies would be in the 70,000 number and not the multi million of people struggling to be middle class in those countries.

    The best comparison on this issue is with America. America is considered a Christian nation by the Middle East. We consider those states as ‘Muslim’. I think if we start thinking of those countries as more diverse than some mono-culture that might help to understand what we are dealing with. Cause I know, statistically, the overwhelming majority of people in those nations are not committing atrocities you aforementioned. And we know clearly not every Muslim is a terrorist.

    If we look at America, what makes this country much better? Historically, America has a pattern of discrimination, racism, bigotry, and hate for anyone non-European. We can start with Black people, move onto Indian groups, into South American endeavors, and finally into the Middle East (one could also include Japan and Vietnam people groups).

    So when I come to claim this halting of a mosque in NYC is about politics, I don’t think it is. I think it is about cultural sensitivities in America, sensitivities that do not reflect the minorities within it’s own country. So when some Muslims want a nice looking mosque, they are seen as the enemy of the state, and will likely be denied since their cultural meanings do not make the short-list of American cultural sensitivities.

    So we can banter about the ‘evils’ of Islam all day, but ain’t that the kettle calling the pot black.

  13. “Over at Butterflies and Wheels Edmund standing helps clarify why criticism of Islam is so important and why the symbol of Park 51 is an issue of sensitivity that needs criticism rather than painting this criticism as one of bigotry:” (tildeb)

    I agree with criticism, nothing worth having is not worth some debate over (towards it merits or drawbacks).

    However, to draw away from the fact this isn’t also a form of bigotry is to almost pretend something like segregation was for the ‘best’ in the 1950’s and not harmful. It is what it is, pretending it isn’t there doens’t make it go away.

    I think the mosque should be debated, but if this is the case then I think more things need to be debated as well. Churches need to be voted on now if we want them in our neighborhoods. Cultural centres will also need to be voted on as to their usefulness in certain areas. Let’s get of liqour boards, or if they want to build close to our areas – let’s veto those. I personally would like mass polluters in cities moved further towards the outskirts of that city, let’s veto them. I hear Nike and Wal-Mart may still be promoting slave labor in Asian nations, can we get them to shut their doors and get out of my neighborhood – I don’t want that stench around. Etc, etc, etc.

    You see the mosque is selective targeting, we can be easily sold they are the ‘enemy’ and they are from a land that ‘hates’ us. If they all could, they would blow us up. Then we look in the direction of the 9/11 disaster and say ‘uh huh – proof right thurr!’. Then we hear about a mosque about 2 months back (which was years in the planning) and the kill switch is engaged – we must shut this down. This is how it reads in papers and media coverage…as plain old ignorance…all facts ignored – all cultural sensitivities and biases played up.

    In the end, the mis-information portion is clearly wilfull ignorance, and at it’s least – bigotry.

    • I originally posted because I wanted to respond to the ongoing smear campaign (supported by far, far too many people who should know better) that painted anyone who dared question the appropriateness of the Cordoba Initiative as fearful, bigoted, and discriminatory. This is a false dichotomy that continues to equate criticism of islam as intolerance, when the fact is that islam itself and all its branches based on the scripture of the qu’ran that is intolerant of secular enlightenment values… the very values that affords legal respect and equality to all and is the foundation of all of our rights… like the freedom of religion necessary to build Park 51.

      That the current debate involves protecting freedom of religion by allowing the building of the ‘community center’ is a great irony, and one that apparently needs to be pointed out to those so eager to jump on the tolerance bandwagon. Nevertheless, as TFT has so succinctly written, the issue is not about ‘right’ but about ‘wise’… exactly as Obama pointed out a month ago.

      If nothing else, we have to wonder about the motives of those who are a part of a group so threateningly vigilant about perceived insults to their religion yet so willfully insensitive to build such a place in that location.

      • “This is a false dichotomy that continues to equate criticism of islam as intolerance, when the fact is that islam itself and all its branches based on the scripture of the qu’ran that is intolerant of secular enlightenment values” (Tildeb)

        But your view is as intolerant, and I think that is 1/2 the problem your going to face. You paint Islam with way too wide a brush IMO, so much so someone has to call you on the generalizations you use (ie: all of islam is what it seems you mean when you mention one dysfunctional piece of Islam).

        I have studied some on the actual Cordoba, you might be amazed to learn that place was one of the fore-runners of the enlightenment a few centuries later. There was an actual period of time in Cordoba where great art was built, great poetry written, and massive libraries amassed in that city for the benefit of all citizens (Christians and Jews included). Cordoba is not neccesarily a call to ‘victory’ as much as it can be seen as a call to ‘enlightenment’. Again, this is a simple perspective exercise.

        To also claim all of Islam is intolerant, is also a false dichotomy. There are many branches on the tree of Islam (like most religions on this planet) – and some of them are quite non-violent and promote peace. I’d be willing to bet if a survey was done of the people in Iraq that most would prefer a peaceful solution to the activities currently afoot in that country. Just because media shows a lot of people warring, does not make it the majority, in fact it only means it’s ‘noteworthy’.

        I also own the Qu’ran and have read 1/2 way through it. Now although, like you, I disagree with a lot of what is written, I also know that if modernized it is no different than Judaism or Christianity (since we also know that interpretation and perspective is 1/2 the battle for your theological positioning). So the Qu’ran is not actually the enemy…people making strict interpretations may be a root cause to contend with.

      • There is no logical reason why a supposed ‘holy book’ should not be taken at face value. This is especially the case in Islam, given a central belief in Islam is the claim that the Qur’an is a perfect, divinely authored text. This is not simply a ‘fundamentalist’ belief, but rather a mainstream belief. In fact, given the centrality of this belief, the use of the term ‘fundamentalist’ in regard to Islam is more problematic than with Judaism and Christianity because, as Sam Harris notes, ‘most Muslims appear to be “fundamentalist” in the Western sense of the word’. That is not to say that most Muslims are violent extremists, but that most at least pay lip service to the idea that they intrinsically view the nature of the Qur’an itself in exactly the same way as the extremists do.

        The idea that ‘scholars’ who present Islam as dividing the world into believers and unbelievers and believe that Islam is supreme amongst religions have somehow ‘misinterpreted’ their faith is farcical, for throughout the Qur’an this is precisely the worldview that emerges. When religious liberals sugarcoat the clear meaning of their religious texts by claiming that we should not look directly at the text but rather at the writings of liberal ‘interpreters’ of the text, they are not basing their argument on anything approaching a logically coherent position, but rather on wishful thinking and self-deception, and they offer no firm, objective criteria by which such ‘interpretation’ can be seen as authentic.

        From Edmund Standing’s article over at Butterflies and Wheels who writes it much better than I .

  14. “The question isnt whether the mosque is “right”. The question is whether it is “Wise”. Its pretty clear just reading these little excerpts from this blog that it doesnt sit well with many people.” (John)

    I agree John, but I also disagree.

    I agree – it’s become a sensitive issue. Facts are this mosque was in the works for at least a year before anyone so much as raised an eyebrow. This has only really caught fire in the last 2 to 3 months…which makes me wonder why for the past 15 months no one cared 2 nickels if it was being built or what it was being called.

    It’s also true, it does not sit well with many people. But is this reason enough to restrict someone’s freedoms? Because it’s ‘un-liked’? If this were the case then shouldn’t ‘we the people’ also have the same amount of rights to shut down pretty much anything that we don’t agree with? I can think of like 20 things off the top of my head I want shut down that are as bad or worse as some of the claims being made about Islam (ie: diamond mining in Africa being a clear example…good bye engagement rings).

    I see this about simple freedoms being stripped from a whole people group because they want to claim faith in Islam. I don’t think there is much more to it when we strip away all the media and mis-information and look at the bare bones of what is really happening.

    They are building a mosque. There is nothing more to it. Everything else said about it is ‘add ons’.

  15. “Seems to me the WTC towers came down without that mosque being there so guess having a mosque or not having a mosque had little to do with that particular attack.” (Yael)

    BINGO! One thing has nothing to do with the other.

    Also good points about history and all these claims from a ‘Christian’ nation being so ‘moral’. If America can do some introspection, they might realize they have treated a lot of people in the past and now, like dung.

  16. “The issue for me is not about the religion but about the sensitivity of those who lost close ones from the disaster there” (Xander)

    It’s not a very strong line of reasoning though, and it’s potentially ethnocentric.

    You mention a synagogue and Pearl Harbor as examples. Did you know that America still has an army base in Japan? This is the same country that dropped the only 2 atomic bombs ever on that country – killing some 70,000+ and we are left to guesstimate the wounded and those effected by the fallout. But is this a sore-spot for Japan in 2010?

    I could also mention Native Americans and the Wounded Knee slaughter…which is a sacred place to those Native American tribes (ie: a graveyard). Sure it’s a sore-spot, but isn’t it also a tourist spot?

    So we can get into cultural sensitivties, the problem is what culture are we talking about here and why are they so sensitive? I don’t believe we will find the minorities in America are being fairly recognized, namely on this issue of a mosque being built (which can actually be seen as beneficial to society).

    I know most of the rhetoric coming from sides opposed to the mosque are based on sympathy, but rooted in ethnocentricity.

  17. Jay

    Youre right about all those nasty, shitty things that have been perpetrated down through the centuries. That doesnt mean the Islamic community centre isnt a really, really shitty idea. Common sense is what’s needed here. They have the right to build it and the people in that nation and abroad have the right to point out what a shitty idea it really is. I still would question whether or not the builders of this building really care about being good neighbours, cause it sure seems the “religion of peace” seems to create a whole lot of turmoil worldwide. Even the nice peaceful ones in New York. ;(

  18. Yael

    What’s wrong with questioning their motives? I didnt say they couldnt do it. I just think its a very poor idea for community cohesion. As a side note, the fall of many nations through the centuries doesnt always come directly from an outside force. Cultural values can change(and not always for the better) if you dont question.

    • John,
      Question all you want. I just wonder, do you automatically question the motives of any religious group seeking to build a place of worship, or just Muslims? In my own neighborhood I would protest them all, but in someone else’s? Not my business. If someone wants to build, go ahead. The locals can decide one way or the other, not Sarah Palin, Fox news and the teabaggers.

      As far as community cohesion goes, I have to smile at that one. What first came to mind was that freaking protestant church that loudly played hymns through their bells, every hour on the hour, all day long, through my neighborhood even though my neighborhood was filled with Jews, Muslims and Catholics. It seems to me Evangelical Christians act as if they can do whatever they want here in the U.S. but then are quick to cry foul if anyone protests their arrogance; they go around the world proselytizing in countries where doing so is against the law, yet they do it anyway; Xander even told me that even though his sacred text says Christians are supposed to submit to the government under which they live, it is OK to ignore these laws. Such respect for others! Americans go around the world doing to other people whatever we want but then cry foul over American citizens wanting to build a mosque in their own country?

      Yes, there were Muslims who killed people on 9/11 but I think we did a fair job killing Muslims in retaliation, something we are continuing to do so to this day. Yet we have all these people acting like we’re at some higher moral plane than everyone else in the world! Sure we are….

      Anyway, my own religion’s history in New York City is of having to put up a fight just to be allowed to live there and hold our own worship services. It seems our motives were looked on with suspicion as well. After much back and forth and money from rich Jews back in Holland we were allowed to hold services and get a plot of land to use as a Jewish cemetery. A book I am referencing, written in 1994, contains the following statement, ironic in view of this conversation:

      In 1682, the Jewish community of New York purchased a new piece of ground for a cemetery. A small part of this cemetery still remains nestled among the tall buildings of lower Manhattan, in the shadow of the World Trade Center.

      • “Xander even told me that even though his sacred text says Christians are supposed to submit to the government under which they live, it is OK to ignore these laws. Such respect for others!”

        I am sorry Yael, but since you see this behavior from Jews in the book of Daniel, is it a good thing or a bad thing?

      • Yael

        For the most part I dont have to question most western Jews or Christians. It seems that the secular part(rule of law) of the west has been able to reduce the level of fanaticism in these religions greatly. Unfortunately I think Islam still has a way to go. On most days when I look around the world I dont see many Jews or Christians making videos about blowing up infidels and themselves in the name of their religion. Though there are some rare cases. Another reason I dont question Jews or Christians in the west is because most of the good parts of their respective religions have been incorporated into the fabric of our culture. Fortunately most of the bad parts have not. Again, with Islam this is still a struggle. Shariah law and other negative parts loom largely on the horizon. Dont kid yourself, there is a cultural shift happening and all might not be for the good of our societies. Look a little deeper at the core of the Muslim faith and you see many worrisome traits. Its true this could be said of all religions, so I guess maybe its time we limit all of their possible involvement in our public lives. Afterall do we actually want our leaders to base their decisions on a invisible force known only to a select few?

      • Xander,
        You’ll have to point out to me where in Daniel we see Jews proselytizing even though it was against the law of the land. I don’t remember reading such a thing so if you could tell me where to find this, I would appreciate it greatly.

      • John,
        I do agree that society is changing but I see a much greater problem with greedy corporations and a widening gap between the wealthy and the rest of us. I am more concerned about the rhetoric coming out of the teabaggers than I am about a mosque being built in NYC. If the economy is stable and people are feeling positive about life, the nut jobs in any religion don’t stand a chance. In times of turbulence they come out of the closet and show us their worst. Just because some seem to be more civilized at the moment doesn’t mean they can’t regress at an incredible rate of speed.

        BTW, don’t assume because I disagree with you that I have not looked into Islam at any depth. It’s not the religion for me, no way, no how, but I’m not going to tell them they can’t build a mosque and follow their own religion. Anyway, I grew up being taught to fear everything that wasn’t us, to fear that everything I knew would be destroyed in an instant if I didn’t fight against this or that. I refuse to buy into this anymore. There’s always some enemy out there waiting to destroy us, waiting to undermine us, the oh so righteous United States of America; who this is just changes from time to time. The world was coming to an end in 1976; the communists were going to do us in! Yeah, well I’m still alive, we ‘defeated’ communism, so now we’re on to the next thing, battling to keep our country safe from Islam. It’s a nice diversion, IMO of course, while we lose our houses, lose our jobs, lose our retirement, all of which have what to do with Islam and the mosque in NYC?

      • I was referring to Daniel disobeying the law of the Nebuchadnezzar by refusing to worship him as a god. My statement was that a Christian should follow the land in which he is in unless it violates the commandments from God. I am not sure how you got that I condone proselytizing out of that, but it might be the comment in which I said Jews needed Jesus. If Christians are proselytizing in public, then the government should arrest them. I think we are in agreement there.

      • Xander,
        I was referencing a conversation on OSS’s blog some months back where I asked you a series of questions about which laws Christians are required to follow and to which you answered with a quick yes or no. One of those questions was about Christians proselytizing in countries that don’t allow such things. Your response was that they were not required to follow such laws.

        I already knew you think Jews need Jesus, but I file that away as just another instance of one religion trying to force it’s beliefs on another.

        John,
        I do not live a materialistic life either. However, I prefer to keep some kind of roof over my head and prefer to have the ability to take care of myself and my sons. I also prefer that my sons be able to find jobs when they finish their schooling. If I am fortunate I will be able to continue to work long hours until the day I die, if I am unfortunate I will end up on a park bench somewhere. CEOs are being paid millions while laying off workers with no end in sight; our economy seems to be hanging on by a thread. Economic instability is what allows the crazies to gain power, post WWI Germany being a good example. That you have the luxury to never worry about money? Good for you. I do not have the same.

        Let me say once more, everything you say about Islam and your fear of what they would do to you and your daughter is no different than the things we were told to fear about Communism. Same story, different antagonist.

        I’ve stated my point of view, you’ve stated yours, we disagree. Cool. I’ll let you have the last word! 🙂

  19. John, I think you need also read what all have written as well. I agree 100% questioning (which I did write) and I also think some debate will help bring the truth to light on what is best for this scenario. As it stand, I see no good reason to not build that mosque (which also will have a memorial to the 9/11 victims).

    From where I am standing when I read on this issue I can only see 2 really clear things – ethnocentricity and fear. Those are literally all the talking points made from people who oppose this mosque. Not that they know anything about Muslims, Islam, or this mosque in general…they just have a few problems they cannot seem to find the itch to – but they sure as hell are weighing in with a solution…no mosque.

    I stand opposed to those people with my thoughts and actions, I would actually even help build that mosque if it meant being hated for doing it, even being attacked for doing it. Becuase, my version of Christianity, has a Jesus person that would do that for me (potentially). That’s my religious reasoning.

    Aside from that, I always stand for freedom and stand firmly opposed to ethnocentricity or forms of racism. King Jr. had a dream, about people being judged for the content of their character, not for their religious affiliation or worse yet, cultural connection. Which this is clearly a case of, Americans are struggling with trusting anyone Middle Eastern, this mosque is only an iceberg in that already cold pond.

    I just think John you may be latching your wagon onto something with underlying connotations which may not be about best interests and simply about fear and loathing in NYC.

  20. Jason

    Do you think the founding fathers had in mind Islam when they developed the rights and protections for religion in their constitution? I wonder if that context would change the way you see it? I still question the motives wisdom of that proposed Mosque. Not a good idea in my mind. I will leave it as I agree to disagree with your point. 🙂

  21. “Do you think the founding fathers had in mind Islam when they developed the rights and protections for religion in their constitution?” (John)

    I would say an obvious ‘no’ (did they even know what Islam was?). However, they neither had the idea of Mormonism and it manages to exist. I also doubt they thought their freedom of speech would protect hate groups like the KKK, but it does.

    I guess I would like to hear more from the group actually proposing the mosque and why they are doing this – seems to be adequately under-represented in media (IMO). It may help people to gauge what the intent for the mosque are.

  22. history Jay, history! William Penn established his colony that would be open to all monotheistic faiths (sorry hindu’s!) and the founders followed his lead but didn’t regulate it to just monotheistic faiths as most founders were Unitarians and couldn’t agree if Catholics (with the doctrine of the Trinity) were monotheistic or not. so they opened it up to all faiths.

    this is not about sensitivities. that plays right into the hands of the conservatives. this is about constitutionally guarenteed rights which conservatives jump up and down about until it doesn’t suit their purposes. it’s the worst for of hypocrisy.

  23. I agree with you on the mosque thing (more accurately a community center, but accuracy doesn’t seem a priority to the people denigrating it)

    The real reason I’m commenting, though, is that I used to keep up with you quite a bit, and am happy to see that you’re still at it. I used to blog at Mystery Messiah, but I’ve started fresh, and wanted to say hi.

  24. “There is no logical reason why a supposed ‘holy book’ should not be taken at face value” (tildeb quoting Standing)

    This is all a question of one thing, interpretation and weight value of what one is reading.

    Standing can make the point Islam, when used in a literal sense, seems divisive…there’s no problem with that assertion. However, there is also a whole 1400 year history alongside Islam and interpretation that would factor into many of the streams of thought within that faith (as with any faith of that age). Literalism is ‘one’ strand…and as apparent as we might think it is, we cannot be certain this is the mainstream interpretation for this religion.

    One also has to understand that faith in some depth to make those assertions as well. There is a geo-political climate that is allowing for such extreme views in the Middle East, and I am not sure any of that is exactly related to an interpretation of a text. Yet, it does influence the mind of the interpreter to slap it on top of the passages they find closely related (ie: jihadic ideals). However, jihad as an idea can be related to war, but many find this more of an internal pondering and wrestling.

    I think we are not fully considering why some people in Islam are responding with extremist views and coloring with the easy answer ‘it’s the Quran’ is child like in nature. This is more of a problem of the surroundings of their culture being impacted globally (lots of times adversely) that may be causing more of this than some text.

    • Societyvs, I understand you want to think the best of people. But I think there is a very legitimate and evidence-backed concern that islam itself promotes, fosters, enables, and justifies extremism. As but one example, more a third – a third! – of British-born citizens at university who identify with being good muslims agree that killing another human being on religious grounds is justified. (page 45 specifically)

      I’m not making this stuff up nor am I allowing myself to ‘interpret’ these findings in some bigoted and intentionally discriminatory islamophic way.

      Now take a moment and really think about what this data means. It means that a significant number of citizens born and raised in a secular society outside of the Middle East acculturated into specific western countries are directly influenced to think killing another to protect a very specific religion makes sense. And they believe this to be true – to be justifiable – not because they suffer from poverty nor political suppression nor terrible living conditions but for one reason only: it reflects their religious beliefs.

      This ‘interpretation’ by so many young well-educated muslims is not some extreme view held only by a few wing nuts but a sizable number of otherwise successful and intelligent people.

      Take a look at the terrorists who commit mass murder in the name of islam here in the west and you will not find uneducated poor people who grossly distort their religious convictions. You will find most often doctors and lawyers and engineers and university graduates with advanced degrees who share a similar religious belief that justifies their atrocities. That’s not just my opinion because I harbour some not-so-secret fear of muslims but a widely available fact.

      I simply cannot line up what you write – what you would like to believe is true about the followers of islam – with these stark and brutal facts. And they are reasonable, accurate, and evidence-based facts that should scare the living shit out of you.

      • tildeb

        Interesting stuff. I dont scare easily but that shit makes me stop to ponder big time. Funny thing is, most of the people who like the feel good stuff about their(or others) religion probably wont be the ones doing battle if necessary. Even more funny is that I would typically consider myself a Liberal, go figure. 😉

  25. It’s a nice diversion, IMO of course, while we lose our houses, lose our jobs, lose our retirement, all of which have what to do with Islam and the mosque in NYC?(Yael)

    Nothing, It has nothing to do with all those material things. Im not so worried about my job or my house and as far a retirement goes Im on the freedom 85 plan. I am however a little more concerned with the potential blowing up part, or cutting off hands part or stoning my daughter part. I know, I know those things dont happen in OUR culture, do they?

  26. by Christopher Hitchens

    I do not find myself reassured by the fact that Imam Rauf publicly endorses the most extreme and repressive version of Muslim theocracy. The letterhead of the statement, incidentally, describes him as the Cordoba Initiative’s “Founder and Visionary.” Why does that not delight me, either?

    Emboldened by the crass nature of the opposition to the center, its defenders have started to talk as if it represented no problem at all and as if the question were solely one of religious tolerance. It would be nice if this were true. But tolerance is one of the first and most awkward questions raised by any examination of Islamism. We are wrong to talk as if the only subject was that of terrorism. As Western Europe has already found to its cost, local Muslim leaders have a habit, once they feel strong enough, of making demands of the most intolerant kind. Sometimes it will be calls for censorship of anything “offensive” to Islam. Sometimes it will be demands for sexual segregation in schools and swimming pools. The script is becoming a very familiar one. And those who make such demands are of course usually quite careful to avoid any association with violence. They merely hint that, if their demands are not taken seriously, there just might be a teeny smidgeon of violence from some other unnamed quarter …

    As for the gorgeous mosaic of religious pluralism, it’s easy enough to find mosque Web sites and DVDs that peddle the most disgusting attacks on Jews, Hindus, Christians, unbelievers, and other Muslims—to say nothing of insane diatribes about women and homosexuals. This is why the fake term Islamophobia is so dangerous: It insinuates that any reservations about Islam must ipso facto be “phobic.” A phobia is an irrational fear or dislike. Islamic preaching very often manifests precisely this feature, which is why suspicion of it is by no means irrational.

    As a curiousity, does Christopher Hitchens fall into the Right Wing or Conservative nut job catagory?

  27. “As but one example, more a third – a third! – of British-born citizens at university who identify with being good muslims agree that killing another human being on religious grounds is justified.” (tildeb)

    It’s a fine example that seems to statistically back up your point about the murderous problem with Islam, problem is the question…what are these same people basing their thoughts on (in relation with their texts)? The answer is a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ question – what is it these people would actually kill for?

    It’s no different than people in America or other religions supporting the same thing – self defense. In fact, America has one of the highest violent crime rates in the Western world (if not the highest) – so we can adequately judge by ‘actions’ America supports the same idea of violence regardless of religion, nationality, or creed. My buddy Luke, who I would say is extremely peaceful, believes in a ‘just war’ position – ie: some violence is okay for the right ideals and problems.

    All the study shows is that 66% of Muslims in an educated institution would support a ‘just war’ or even a self defence policy…which may include hurting someone. In fact, that may even make that religion more peaceful than a country like America which hungered for blood after the 9/11 incident, in a war in Afghanistan that recieved something like 73% approval rating (and this is a conservative estimate). It just happens to be Muslims feel the same way about Afghanistan and Iraq right now, and the threats to Iran…it feels like an all out attack on their ‘freedoms’.

    Funny thing about statistics, they can be read more than one way and also need clarification since most of the time they are not that specific.

    On a side note, I am not scared of Muslims, I do not find a good reason to be scared of them…since I don’t live a life based on fear. Sure they may hate Canada and some are looking for revenge in any way possible, but should I hate every Muslim for the discretions of a few? If this is the case, shouldn’t I also hate people groups associated with going to jail more than others? It’s a fear thing, not an intellectual thing.

    • I would think the problem with your line of thinking is obvious: to equate killing another in the name of defending one’s faith as equivalent to defending one’s life against a physical assault is a horribly bad comparison because killing in the name of some perceived ‘attack’ against religion is unjustifiable in ANY circumstance. To think it is justified is batshit crazy.

      Consider: what constitutes an ‘attack’ against religion? Criticism? Improper worship? Missing a prayer? Laughing at some theological point? Believing differently? Worshipping a false god? Drawing a cartoon? Disregarding a command? The list is endless.

      Come on, societyvs, use your critical faculties and stop assuming that your original position MUST be correct against which all other contrary points MUST be incorrect. That’s a stand in for religious belief and superstitious nonsense in action.

      If a hundred million Americans step forward and admit that they think it is justified to kill muslims in ‘defense’ of their religion, you’re going to be in a real pickle to explain why muslims living in the US shouldn’t find this fact ‘scary.’ According to you, they shouldn’t. Leave aside, for the moment, that willing to kill in the name of defending religion is broken thinking; it’s morally indefensible. Because you don’t happen to want to live in fear and say that you will not do so shows just how coddled your sense of safety is: if a hundred million of your neighbours thought it was perfectly justifiable for someone to kill you outright for some perceived attack against their flavour-of-the-month superstition, I get a sneaking suspicion you might feel a tad less secure in your false sense of tolerance and might even take offense to someone who tells you that not only do you have nothing to fear but that you are part of the problem for feeling vulnerable!

      And will you please stop making straw men arguments and assigning them to me? I know you can do it. I am not advocating ‘hate’ against anyone: I am saying we need to criticize this religion and we need people to stop assuming that the criticism can be disregarded and discarded as mere Islamaphobia. It’s not. The qu’ran is an ongoing legitimizing source and promoter for religious submission that are directly opposed to Enlightenment values and an ongoing legitimizing source and promoter for taking violent action against anyone who disagrees. That most muslims do not take up the sword is not the point; the point is that the qu’ran justifies them in advance for doing so in the name of defending islam. Someday, you will have to deal with that fact.

  28. “As a curiousity, does Christopher Hitchens fall into the Right Wing or Conservative nut job catagory?” (Xander)

    Hitchens would be a right wing atheist, but his views politically are more liberal (from what I can tell).

    However, the day Hitchens starts speaking/advocating for religions is the day Mohammed starts speaking for atheists. So he is to be taken with a grain of salt when it comes to this topic, we are quite clear of his bias against theism (which actually hurts his credibility when he critiques an Imam or a religious leader). We become unsure what it is he is getting at, is this to be taken as consistent with the truth on the matter or free from the biases of his beliefs?

    Hitchens makes some good points about the Muslims in Britain and their cry for religious freedoms. Same problem in America with Christians can be made – and yet the belly-aching isn’t to the same degree. Do we villianize Christian groups because of all their demands in the public forum?

    As for T4T’s and tildebs decrying of Islam and how ‘dangerous’ it is, I find it accostingly funny. The countries we live in (America, Canada, and Britain) are some of the most violent on this planet…and we don’t need to really go to far in our own cities to feel some of the heat. Yet we bemoan the violence of a group of people who are having their countries invaded or threatened on a constant, and then wag fingers at them for ‘having a feeling about it’. Yet, we are some of the most violent countries in the civilized world and we are not being conquered, what’s our excuse?

    • As for T4T’s and tildebs decrying of Islam and how ‘dangerous’ it is, I find it accostingly funny. The countries we live in (America, Canada, and Britain) are some of the most violent on this planet…and we don’t need to really go to far in our own cities to feel some of the heat.

      Oh really?

      Islam is dangerous because it advocates directly against human rights and dignity of personhood compared to submitting to the will of god as revealed in the qu’ran. I don’t know why you fail repeatedly to show good reasons to counter this primary charge; instead, you pull all kinds of irrelevant generalities out of thin air as if by doing so we’ll all have a kumbaya moment and all will be hunky dory.

      Secondly, those who support islam have no access to some conveniently neat division between extremist and moderate based on personal behaviour. If, for example, you advocated for women to have fewer rights and fewer freedoms than men, I don’t give a rat’s ass how moderate you claim by behaviour to be or how much personalrespect you show to your mother. By holding the view that women as a category are unequal under the banner of your favoured religious belief I would quite correctly call you a supporter of misogyny even if in practice you were a very nice moderate fellow to the females of our species. Again, why you avoid any appreciation for this distinction remains a mystery… accept you don’t wish to face it.

      I have pointed out that almost every islamic terrorist active in the western countries is not some poor person from a third world country but native born, highly educated, relatively affluent acculturated citizen who FOR RELIGIOUS REASONS ALONE attempts or inflicts mass murder. I have pointed out good data showing widespread sympathy for these actions by other native born, highly educated, relatively affluent acculturated citizen OF THE SAME RELIGION. You fail utterly to account for these facts and, instead, moan about western economic practices.

      I can only conclude that you place more weight on the sanctity of your own beliefs than you are willing to place on behalf of what’s true. And what’s true is that islam is a very dangerous ideology badly in need of sustained criticism and fundamental reformation.

      • ‘Oh really’ (tildeb) (concerning crime in the West)

        I checked your stats site out, and stats don’t lie – http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/cri_tot_cri-crime-total-crimes – check that one out…your stat was only about ‘murder’. I mentioned ‘violence’ – even a break n enter is a ‘violent act’. Criminally, the West is amongst the worst at various offenses globally.

        Top that off, we also have companies that economically support regimes that committ many of the acts of atrocities we likely both stand opposed to. From diamonds in Africa to Oil in Nigeria, we can find companies supporting these areas for profit for their company, regardless of the environmental effect or the guerilla violence effect it spawns.

        “I don’t know why you fail repeatedly to show good reasons to counter this primary charge” (Tildeb)

        Do you want me to start quoting the Qu’ran?

        “Secondly, those who support islam have no access to some conveniently neat division between extremist and moderate based on personal behaviour” (Tildeb)

        This is a generalization tildeb, do you fail to comprehend this? It’s like saying everyone in Texas owns a shotgun. The reason it’s hard to debunk what you are saying is because they are not specifics and for a man of stats like yourself, start putting some down if your case is air-tight. Otherwise I have to lump it an a category with no basic proofs behind it but much rhetoric to say ‘it is so’.

        I can find passages on peace in the Qu’ran – this is not going to be a problem. However, I do think you will have a problem supporting your claims that ‘all of islam’ is this way or that way (ie: mysogyny). There is no 100% proof that shows this in Islamic countries, or with Islamic followers in the West (which I would love to see the statistics on if you can find them).

        “I have pointed out good data showing widespread sympathy for these actions by other native born, highly educated, relatively affluent acculturated citizen OF THE SAME RELIGION. You fail utterly to account for these facts and, instead, moan about western economic practices.” (Tildeb)

        Then you fail to understand the concept of war and oppression in these countries – which is now becoming crystal clear. You cannot even wonder why there might be sympathy for the actions these people are taking – from countries that feel they are being invaded and have been invaded. I am thinking of America was invaded and conquered, we likely wouldn’t be arguing about sympathies concerning people trying to ruin the gov’t that did it. But far be it from me to understand someone who has had their country and livilihoods ruined by war and invasion.

        You blame religion as if this is the only piece of the pie that is being counted, not country, economics, oppression, or under-handed tactics by super-powers to control these places with sanctions. No it is just religion because a book says this and book says that, and that’s how simple these people really are. I must ask tildeb, how simple do you think these people in Islam are?

        I have heard their arguments, watch some terrorist tapes and see what they actually say as for their ‘reasons’. It’s a start to seeing why they are doing these atrocious acts in the first place. Sure you will here some religious coating in there, but it’s also economic, war related, jargon about the West. Some of it is true, as much as we hate it.

        But I am into dealing fairly, and I don’t see a good reason to hate Muslims because some of their group (a very small minority) are doing these atrocious actions. If this is the game your playing, why should any minority trust a single white American, it was a proven fact that in the early 1900’s there were over 4 million KKK members…these would be this generations great grand-parents. One could easily paint with a broad brush on that figure and avow whoelsale dis-trust of Americans due to racist under-tones in their history. But we are smarter than that, I’d hope.

        So I am not about to turn around and tell Islam it’s wholesale wrong because a few of their people – and some sympathizers – are ruining the religion for everyone else.

        I don’t disagree on critique of the religious practices, I support those debates every day of the week since we both now changes need to be made. But none of that has to do with a mosque in Manhattan.

      • You must have failed to notice that I used a per capita stat while you went straight to the one that seemed to back up your position… but in fact was merely a total, meaning that the most populous countries will naturally end up at the top and not show us the level of violence. Being from Canada, I can assure you that our violent crime level is extraordinarily low compared to, say, Pakistan.

        Be that as it may, I will now turn to the proposed burning of a qu’ran and apply your reasoning to determine if it is a wise action to make. You see, it is legal to burn a book but is it wise to do so?

        Hmm.

        Knowing as you do that the qu’ran symbolizes the perfect word of god, you can probably figure out that you might take issue with someone very much like yourself who proclaims that you will gladly go forth to help build the pyre and offer the matches to uphold this exercise of religious freedom. But you are foolish to think actions like this are one that demonstrates the wise use of religious freedom in the same way that building a centerpiece islamic center so close to ground zero does not demonstrate the wise use of religious freedom.

        But something tells me that you will alter your reasoning for condemning the burning of a qu’ran – probably on the basis that it promotes religious intolerance – from the reasoning you use to support the wisdom of Park 51 – on the basis that it promotes religious tolerance!

        Funny how the apologetic mind on behalf of islam works and twists to always suit the apology rather than tackle the issues head on.

      • And by the way, I really must insist that you stop implying that I ‘hate’ anybody. I criticize religion, I criticize religious beliefs inserted into the public domain, and I criticize the religion of islam in particular for its retrograde affects on your freedoms and rights and dignity. I will criticize those who hold these inimical values under the disguise of practicing religious piousness and I will criticize those who defend the expression of these inimical values in the public domain. I will criticize the reasons I think are poor ones that promote these inimical values and argue that we should support reasons that I think are better ones that promote the enlightened values upon which western civilization has already built its rightful moral supremacy.

  29. Jason

    Before I address your comment I would love you to answer these few questions.

    1. Do you think it is reasonable for some people to be hurt or offended by the building of the Mosque and its proximity to the 911 site?

    2. Do you think it is reasonable to question the wisdom of the leaders of the Mosque and their choice of location considering the proximity to the 911 site?

    3. Worldwide, do you consistently(weekly) see fanatical fundamentalist Christians or Jews threatening or actually blowing themselves and others up in the name of Jesus or Yahweh?

  30. I’ll hop on this:

    1. Do you think it is reasonable for some people to be hurt or offended by the building of the Mosque and its proximity to the 911 site?
    -no. these are not the same muslims, these are americans who are gaurenteed the same constitutional rights we all are.

    2. Do you think it is reasonable to question the wisdom of the leaders of the Mosque and their choice of location considering the proximity to the 911 site?
    -no. i think it’s a tactic by those on the right to divert attention to a red herring and play on american fears and biases.

    3. Worldwide, do you consistently(weekly) see fanatical fundamentalist Christians or Jews threatening or actually blowing themselves and others up in the name of Jesus or Yahweh?
    -no not so much weekly, maybe monthly. this is a class thing, Christians and Jews usually have better resources available than the average muslim. evidence can be found on that with the GDP of most muslim nations, as well as the type and quality of bombs used in bombings. these are real factors. McVey was the worst Christian bomber, he had a ton of fertilizer and had a remote denonater. these things cost a fortune in other countries.

    • Not to mention more books are translated from Spanish in a year than are published in the entire muslim controlled world. Maybe that has something to do with it.

  31. Ghost

    I said nothing about taking away their rights.(strawman)
    I am not a right wing conservative.(strawman)
    Mcvey got what he deserved. Also, show me the videos where the Christian and Jew praise Jesus or Yahweh before they go boom.(strawman)

  32. “I said nothing about taking away their rights.(strawman)”
    -i didn’t say you did, i’m answering your question. they can build where ever they can afford to.

    “I am not a right wing conservative.(strawman)”
    -didn’t say you were, i’m stating how this whole conversation was started and why.

    “show me the videos where the Christian and Jew praise Jesus or Yahweh before they go boom.(strawman)”
    -there is a difference in class, culture, and means is what i’m saying. tactics are different from both extremists and i’m saying each one is wrong in their own special way. this would be a classic “tu quoque” fallacy in the first place.

    do i believe in the koran? no. do i think there are some problems with Islam calling itself a peaceful religion while it’s founder was a general who launched a nationalizing campaign? absolutely? do i think all muslims are inherently violent? no, in fact very much the opposite. i almost think that Islam’s teachings take a backseat to Arab Culture in many respects, which is one of hospitality and familial loyalty. i do have a problem with the extremists and the wahabists. but i have that problem with the same ones in other religions.

  33. Ghost

    I pretty much agree with what you are saying. My concern(which is legitimate) is the politicized form of Islam. I am not fearful nor hysterical about this, but I am acutely aware of how its knocking at the door. In Ottawa recently 3 potential Islamic fanaticals where arrested in relation to bombs and potential targets(still need to be proven guilty…but). That aint some far away place, thats my backyard. If found guilty I wonder which mosque showed them the “sword passages”. Until the moderates of the religion started speaking up LOUDLY and CLEARLY I will be skeptical of many Islamists. I believe that is more than reasonable. Oh and by the way, I think all religion should be taken from the public forum and relegated to the back of the room. It should have no bearing on political or public life. Having that happen anytime soon is almost more fantastical than God speaking to you or someone else. 😉

    • The private nature is nicely described in Matthew 6:5-6. But of course, with selective quote mining and appropriate editing and translating and interpreting, one can justify whatever one wishes. Still, imagine a world where religion was strictly a private matter. Wouldn’t that be refreshing?

  34. Just as an FYI, John. Jews call God either ‘God’, ‘Adonai’ or ‘HaShem’; very, very few call God by the name you use. Every time I read that name used I cringe. Not sure where you got the idea that we pronounce the unpronounceable name of God.

  35. “And will you please stop making straw men arguments and assigning them to me?” (tildeb)

    I am not sure I am not assuming something that isn’t already in your written speech and thoughts (as far as strawmen). So I will record a few them to show I am addressing the questions at hand.

    “the towers were brought down by an attack carried out entirely by dedicated group of suicidal wahhabists. That’s islam in action” (Tildeb) (I claim this is a mass generalization of a religious group)

    “We can safely assume it is funded by the Saudis and it is being built to be a symbol not of just another mosque but as a crowning achievement similar to what Cordoba means to the rest of the muslim world: victory over the infidel” (Tildeb) (An admitted assumption on your part, this assumption does not make this true, and if it’s not true it’s mis-representative of a group of people)

    “I’m afraid the religion is in opposition to your right to believe what you do and to worship as you see fit. That’s not bigotry, but it is discrimination… and for very good reasons” (Tildeb) (An admission of discrimination)

    “These human rights abuses are as much a part of islam in action as a nice and shiny new cultural center funded by muslims in New York City” (Tildeb) (Claims the human rights abuses are tantamount to the religion of Islam, in fact, a piece of the religion)

    “The jihadists are not poor people under the terrible thumb of some overbearing capitalistic system: they are well educated well-to-do individuals who share a single ideology based entirely on the qu’ran: that infidels are worthy of death” (Tildeb) (I agree, however this is a small piece of the Islamic world – not the majority – thus my problems with the ‘generalizations’)

    “when the fact is that islam itself and all its branches based on the scripture of the qu’ran that is intolerant of secular enlightenment values” (Tildeb) (claiming a fact when this is purely assumptive – I personally believe the opposite can also be said about Islam – they helped pave the way for the enlightenment from a place called ‘Cordoba’)

    “And they are reasonable, accurate, and evidence-based facts that should scare the living shit out of you” (Tildeb) (But they don’t, and for some reason it doesnt for most people. Why? Because you tend to think your generalizations of a whole group of diverse people is accurate)

    “I am not advocating ‘hate’ against anyone: I am saying we need to criticize this religion and we need people to stop assuming that the criticism can be disregarded and discarded as mere Islamaphobia” (Tildeb)

    Not once did I say you were being Islama-phobic…did I? However I am the one being criticized for such things. But I can be read to say what you are saying is ‘Islama-phobic’, but I use words like biased, even bigotry (and you admit to discrimination with good reason anyways).

    So why is it such a straw man argument to assume you are promoting a strong dislike (hate was your word) towards Muslims? Everything I read from you comes off this way, in fact, you have nothing good to say about that religion…and I am being biased for defending them against someone seeking to ‘discriminate’ against them?

    Well color me pink, for having a heart and religious conviction that will not stand for any attitude that seeks to lump whole people groups into certain ‘camps’ for the sake of their ‘dislike’ or ‘discrimination’. You can have all the points you want to defend your stance, but as much as I am leaning to their sides (to help them) you are working the angle to destroy them (discrimination)…what would u propose I do?

    Now let’s place this attitude in 1930’s Germany towards the Jews and we may start to understand the danger of your rhetoric.

  36. Thanks Yael

    Interestingly enough, yelling Adonai with bombs strapped to your chest would almost sound as menacing as Allahu Akbar, dont you think?

    Jason

    By the way, what the heck is “Religious Conviction”?

  37. “By the way, what the heck is “Religious Conviction”?” (John)

    The way I use it is to mean I have a paradigm for my life that I base on the life and teachings of Jesus (and have been doing for some period of time now). One of those ideals is to defend the poor or even oppressed. I think in this case I have to stand my ground for Islam (even if it kills me) since I cannot justify discrimination, dislike, and what I percieve as a slant towards a people group that is purely based on feeling (ie: fear of the unknown) and not fact.

  38. As for some of my background in this area, I have been studying Islam for some time (some 14 years of interest in it now). I have read many portions of the Qu’ran, also own many books on the subject – which I also have read through. I have one friend that is a Muslim, and it changed his life quite a bit. I work at a university with many Muslim men and women and they are some of the best students around…and are…can we believe this…peaceful.

    Now I know much of the history of the Middle East and the exploitation from the West, and the fight against this globalization effort in their countries (which we would call normal, they might see as invasive). Combine that with 2 of their countries in a state of ‘capture’, and one being threatened repeatedly with it – I can see the concern in their own fears.

    Anybody ever think a suicide bomber does what he does for out of his own fears, and not his hatred? The lack of choices in the Middle East economic game is quite appalling, as Luke mentioned, their GDP rating are among some of the lowest for that area – and globally (which they really don’t want to join globally anyways). And yet in the West we keep pushing this in their faces, for the exploitation of their resources like we have always done in the West – the the Indian groups, the Africans, South Americans, Australians, East Indians, etc.

    Anyone ever try to add up Capitalism’s history and the bloody trail it leaves behind in the sake of resources, growth, and profit? It’s not impressive – and may one day be the end of us (ie: resouces tapout and environmental issues of real concern now). And we are starting to see some of this ‘protest’ on home soil, the same thing the people in Islam dislike about us…exploitation of everything and anything.

  39. “Interestingly enough, yelling Adonai with bombs strapped to your chest would almost sound as menacing as Allahu Akbar, dont you think?” (John)

    No worse than yelling ‘Viva France’ or ‘America the great’ with a tank mowing down schools, hospitals, or wherever they think one of these ‘scumbag less than human’ people might be hiding.

    It ain’t just people in the name of their ‘God’ killing – I bet a dime to a dollar – patriotism is still the greatest thing on the minds of people killing one another (ie: a political ideology/belief system).

  40. Jason

    Man you sure do make a lot of excuses for people who choose homicidal/suicide because of their economic standing. Sadly they often choose to blow up their own fellow “poor” countrymen/women. I know, I know, if they cant get to people in the west, they might as well blow up ones who may or may not support the west. Wow, sometimes I am amazed at peoples logic. Now back to the original discussion. How can you not see that the choice for this mosque is at best just an extremly poor decision for community cohesion and at worst something just a little more disturbing??? I just dont get how you miss it. I am extremley befuddled. Whether they have the right or not isnt the point. Why, if you are a peaceful person of faith would you choose to poke a potential hornets nest? You cant tell me the Iman and his buddies are that stupid, can you?

  41. John,
    How can people not see things the way you do? I don’t know. I don’t get why Christians think Jesus is so great and why most can’t own up to their own history. Christians don’t get why I don’t think Jesus is a nice guy. We all see things through our own lenses.

    For myself, I don’t get why you can’t see that upholding the Constitution is the better route to go rather than holding one group to a different standard than all others are held to. If this mosque meets the requirements of the law, then it should be built, that’s all there is to it. If someone thinks it is illegal to build this mosque then they should bring a suit against it and go through legal channels.

    You keep bringing up ‘community cohesion’. Could you define this for me? What constitutes cohesion? Who is included in community? Who gets to decide what makes for cohesion or non-cohesion? From what I’ve seen most of the protests are coming from outside NYC. Are these people part of the community?

    How does one decide at what distance a mosque can be located from the WTC site in order not to affect your community cohesion? Would it be OK to build one in Manhattan at all? What if a new site is chosen but then there is one victim’s family living two blocks away who doesn’t want a mosque there? Should another site then be chosen? What if that family doesn’t care but Sarah Palin and Glen Beck do? Is that an automatic no?

    How does one define poking a potential hornet’s nest? How would this action be measured so we can hold all religions to this same standard when it comes to building houses of worship. What is we were to take a different route and get rid of the hornets nest so that there will be nothing to poke?

    As far as your comment about Jews blowing themselves up calling out the name of Adonai, I guess I’m missing your point. Whatever it was, Jews have no need to blow themselves up. We, like every other American, have war ships, tanks, fighter jets, bombs, missiles, guns, soldiers, assassins, you name it, ready to do our dirty work! We also have a group of indoctrinated young people only to eager to put these things to use against whomever we claim in our enemy. No need for messy personal involvement. How cool is that? And as Jews we have the same thing available to us in Israel and actually the whole world, unless Muslims now control everything, so hard to keep track of who pulls the strings these days…

    And as far as moderates speaking up, you ask of others what few are willing to do. I have watched several episodes of a program on TV where they do things to see if anyone will speak up. Even when the most blatant wrongs are being committed against people most who see what is happening just walk on by without saying a word. As far as Muslims go, I was reading a news article about two highly educated Muslims trying to present a more peaceful image of Islam to State Fair goers. They were willing to answer questions, talk with people, let people have copies of the Quran to read for themselves. Most people didn’t want to hear and didn’t believe them. They kept at it but the comments made about them were really quite nasty. How many people are going to be willing to put themselves in such a place? Who is going to listen? People already have their minds made up! Even you, John. You ask for moderates to speak up, but then don’t seem to listen to anything being said that doesn’t conform to the opinion you already hold. So, would you listen to any moderate Muslims? Or would you just be ‘amazed at peoples logic’ with them as well?

  42. Yael

    Again you miss my point(or you ignore it). Im not saying they cant build it. Im wondering how smart it is that they want to build it ‘there’. Im amazed that your logic doesnt seem to want to see it from that angle(maybe it does and youre not saying). Just because its a right doesnt mean its right.

  43. I do get your point, I just don’t get why you keep insisting emotional terms which you have not yet defined nor stated who gets to define them, community cohesion, and poking a hornets nest, should take precedence over legality.

    I understand exactly what you’re saying, you think Muslims should move their mosque to some other location that won’t bother people, but I’m asking where that location might be and who is allowed to be bothered or not bothered. You can’t have it both ways. If it’s not ‘smart’ to build in one location, what is going to be used to determine if another location is any ‘smarter’.

    I did some research. Each family of a 9/11 victim was compensated on average $2 million and the casualty ratio of those who have died in retaliation and those Americans who died in 9/11 is about 501:1, not counting Afghanistan. If it is the families we’re trying to accommodate by not having the mosque within a certain diameter, a diameter no one seems to want to define, then I must say enough already. Bad things happen to people all the time, they usually do not result in such generous compensation nor the killing of 501 other people in return. Enough is enough. I don’t expect a shrine to be built where my parents and sisters last lived and died, those whose family members are killed in car accidents do not insist the road be closed to all future traffic out of sensitivity for their loss. Life goes on. That’s just the way it goes. All of us will one day die. No one can change that fact. None of us are guaranteed even one more minute of living. Yet the 9/11 families seem to think their loved ones would have lived forever in peace and harmony if not for this attack so that the whole world must bow and scrape to their loss? Other countries have suffered numerous terrorist attacks over the years and we don’t see them carrying on as is being done here in the States. It’s become quite ridiculous.

  44. Yael

    I am not really emotional about this, I am just questioning the wisdom of the Iman. Im not sure who would decide where it would be build. I would think that if the Iman wanted to create something of a peaceful nature he could have discussed that potential with others. I believe that was attemted with him and he turned them down. Apparently no other place was wanted….hmm I wonder why? Do you think the Aushwitz-Birkenau memorial is ridiculous, afterall in your terms life goes on?

  45. Wow, I miss a week and I miss a lot! Quite the discussion… a real powder keg!

    I read most of what has been said and I gotta say that I agree with tildeb in much of what he is saying. Radicals in the Islam faith, like in Christianity, must be seriously opposed. But I don’t agree with the way he means to paint all followers of Islam with the same brush.

    As for the mosque, I think they should be able to build it where ever they wish, but they should not wish to build close to ground zero. There are just too many people with painful memories. It is at least terribly insensitive. It does not matter that there intentions may or may not be respectful, so many will never see it that way.

    tilde, you do more harm than good for the faith of Christianity by holding such a militant stance against Islam. You feed the cycle of violence. Will it just go away, no. But we have another much more powerful way of showing the world that Jesus is the way. I am not challenging your contribution toward others, and I do not expect all to give. But I do know that Christians in general are for the most part just pew sitters. If our society is being invaded by undesirables, it is only because we are not something society wants. I wonder why? Could it be because we spend so much energy provoking fear where there is no need?

    btw, as I was writing this there was a news spot on TV that some pastor is trying to organize a “Burn the Koran” on the anniversary of 9/11. Yeah, that is what Jesus would do. Not.

    • No, Brotherken, I do not feed the cycle of violence because I am not advocating violence. I am advocating that religion MUST be withdrawn from the public domain and returned to its proper personal place in order for there to be peace.

      Islam is a religion of conquest, submission, and brutality. Its core beliefs are inimical to western secular values of democracy, human rights, and the dignity of personhood. That is not a ‘radical’ or ‘militant’ reading of the qu’ran nor is it denied in any way by countries that have incorporated it into an official position of religious authority. Sharia law is a travesty against the gains of western jurisprudence for the protection of individuals under its laws and proof of acceptance for religiously inspired injustices and inequalities. Acceptable (in western terms) expressions of moderate islam are not representative of islam as it is understood and practiced by most muslims around the world but a grossly watered down version of cherry-picked passages and sophisticated interpretations that allow for appeasement between what the words actually mean as the ‘perfect words of god’ and a rendition of something less than what the words order us to do.

      And by no means do I think Jesus is the way to ‘solve’ the problem’ of religious belief exercised in the public domain. It is very much part OF the same problem. The solution is for citizens to grant their primary allegiance to secularism in matters of the world and grant god dominion over the supernatural where he apparently resides.

  46. John,
    It’s one thing to have a memorial, it’s another to think that because there is a memorial, I now have the power over Germans, Poles, and Lithuanians within a certain distance around that memorial.

    Article from NY Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/06/us/06muslims.html?src=me&ref=general. I have a hunch I understand at least some of what these Muslims are feeling. Happens to us, too, the only difference is they’re in the cross hairs at the moment instead of us. Not much a person can do when they’re damned if they do, damned if they don’t.

    You can claim to be totally unemotional all you want, John, but your arguments are based on emotion, not on anything that can be measured and applied across the board to all religions.

  47. “Man you sure do make a lot of excuses for people who choose homicidal/suicide because of their economic standing.” (John)

    Thats bunk, IMO. John you have no clue what it is to be a Middle Eastern minority that chooses Islam as their faith and to have to read what is being written here. I am merely pointing out that an issue can be looked at in a variety of ways and to color it with only like 2 colors misses the kaledioscope the issue really is.

    If we break this down to it’s most simple form (which I shall do again), we will see this is not as complex an issue as it looks.

    Issue: Building a Mosque

    Problem: Too close to 9/11 disaster site

    These are the core elements of the debate. Based on those 2 lines alone I have to rule with the building of the mosque, since it is discrimination on the grounds of it being ‘a mosque’ (ie: related to Islam and some Imam everyone seems to be finding issues with). But the core of this debate is actually about discrimination and ethnocentricism…both of which I have stand opposed to as a minority who can relate (plus it’s just the kind thing to do).

  48. i think it boils down the fact that in the US, you have no right not to be offended. the constitution is very clear that the rights lie with the person doing the offense. that’s the way it goes. If you feel offended, tough.

    also, the idea that “religion MUST be withdrawn from the public domain and returned to its proper personal place in order for there to be peace.”

    when was this ever the case? if you’re on the 5 day work-week, you can thank the social gospel movement spawned by a UCC minister. if you like the constitution, great! that was made by a bunch of proto-unitarians who read John Locke who once wrote a tract that stated Christianity was the most rational religion. America is a “Christ haunted” land, as Carl Sandburg once put it. oh, and check your kitchen, if you have an Amana refrig, Oneida silverware, or some Shaker-style kitchen table, you can thank Christian Utopian groups and best return these, since they have no place in the public sphere, which i also assume means the market as well.

    • It is has always been a battle, Z1G, to establish individual rights and freedoms and human rights and dignity of personhood. And the first battle line has always been against established religions. It is an ongoing battle and it is always under attack by those who wish the state to favour some particular religion.

      The point that seems to elude you is that religions alone did not cause any of those events you mention but occurred in spite of many organized religious protests.

      Compare and contrast some of the state charters written in typical religious language with the Constitution. The difference is stark. You suggestion that deism or theism caused the Enlightenment or its individual emphasis on rights for the body politic to be legitimate is ludicrous. We The People is where legitimate power resides and is not descended in any way, shape, or form, from on high through religious affiliation or certain ordained families.

      Religious belief needs to be drawn into the private domain where it can avoid critisism. Bring it into the public and you can expect it will be challenged at every utterance. If you think it requires giving thanks to various religions to build a frig or furniture, then I think you need to give your head a shake. That’s like saying that without scientology we couldn’t enjoy Top Gun.

      • ” to establish individual rights and freedoms and human rights and dignity of personhood.”
        -John Locke did too… Thomas Hobbes as well, both for very different reasons. Locke was a deist, Hobbes a Calvinist.

        “It is an ongoing battle and it is always under attack by those who wish the state to favour some particular religion.”
        -which would be unconstitutional. i’m against that. i believe in the separation of church and state, and as a pastor, i would rather not be a agent of the state in terms of sign marriage certificates. however, the separation of church and state means funding, it does not mean you can’t have your religion in the public arena.

        “The point that seems to elude you is that religions alone did not cause any of those events you mention but occurred in spite of many organized religious protests.”
        -this view seems to think all Christianity was pro-slavery, anti-women, and such. instead there are always movements and counter-movements within religion, it is in no way shape or form monolythic, esp. in terms of american history. abolishionists? yup, they were largely congregationalists. women’s rights and voting? mainline denominations like american baptists, presb. and methodists.

        “You suggestion that deism or theism caused the Enlightenment or its individual emphasis on rights for the body politic to be legitimate is ludicrous.”
        -never suggested such a thing. i suggested that it colored it in highly complex ways.

        “Religious belief needs to be drawn into the private domain where it can avoid critisism”
        -huh? this entire last paragraph makes no sense at all. i do expect to be challenged at every turn. in fact, that’s what religion does! it states “you can do better.” however, this is not a note of condemnation but a note of encouragement to live in community in the tension between autonomy and covenant. challenge goes hand-in-hand with religion, and that’s why i go public each and every sunday.

      • By that last paragraph, I meant religious belief in a god and truth claims made in its name brought intentionally into the public domain to affect public policies, laws, and governance will be directly challenged (depending on the claim) as unknowable, misguided, superstitious, false, and/or factually wrong.

      • i would hope that any belief meant to shape public policy, laws, and governance would be directly challenged whether religious or not. fact remains that there is a separation of church and state, so that means no funding to church by the state (state sponsorship), and no interference by the state when setting up new churches, mosques, or temples. those are the facts. your feelings are irrelevent.

      • Z1G, on what merit should ANY beliefs (of the religious kind) be allowed any voice at any public discussion table? People can believe (of the religious kind) what they want but acting on those beliefs (of the religious kind) is always problematic and usually divisive.

      • “Z1G, on what merit should ANY beliefs (of the religious kind) be allowed any voice at any public discussion table? People can believe (of the religious kind) what they want but acting on those beliefs (of the religious kind) is always problematic and usually divisive.”

        it is the American freedom to believe and act out what one believes. It is not always problematic and divisive any more than any act of policy is. Yet i resist any attempt to make a theocracy on the local, state, or national level. and the constitution does to. to try to outlaw any religious belief from entering the political or public realm is not only beyond foolish, but shows a lack of historical knowledge.

      • Well, not quite, Z1G: the state will not favour any one religion and yet this exactly what we get when politicians politicize their religious beliefs and abuse the power of their office to promote exactly this, and because citizens assume such beliefs carried into public office not only improves the quality of the politician’s character but shows allegiance to the electorate who voted for him or her.

        It is the politician who favours religious spokesmen to come pray with them, to form and head up committees, to organize social services, to care for the sick and elderly, and so on. The insertion of the religious voice to matters of public policy is always against the spirit of separation between church and state and it always causes more problems than it solves.

        I’m not after ‘outlawing’ religious belief; I am all for promoting religious belief as a strictly private affair that has no legitimate place at any public policy table.

      • “when politicians politicize their religious beliefs and abuse the power of their office to promote exactly this,”
        -i think the abuse of power is awful no matter what the carrier. why are you so angry with just the religious part? i’m more angry about the corporate part. it’s far more devious and betrays the interest of the public. if the public is indeed religious the way their elected official is, then our democracy is working.

        “It is the politician who favours religious spokesmen to come pray with them, to form and head up committees, to organize social services, to care for the sick and elderly, and so on. The insertion of the religious voice to matters of public policy is always against the spirit of separation between church and state and it always causes more problems than it solves.”
        -not at all. religion is inherently public, esp the missionary religions like Christianity, Islam, and Buddhism. So what you’re asking is impossible because religion is a LIVED thing. here’s an quandry for ya:

        an act of terror hits the nation. one senator advocates for radical reconciliation and forgiveness while another advocates for an immediate military response. which is acting out his or her faith? which is bringing their faith tradition into the public realm? in your view, who is right and who is wrong?

        I’m not after ‘outlawing’ religious belief; I am all for promoting religious belief as a strictly private affair that has no legitimate place at any public policy table.

      • “I’m not after ‘outlawing’ religious belief; I am all for promoting religious belief as a strictly private affair that has no legitimate place at any public policy table.”

        oops. forgot to comment on this. which kinds? what do you have in mind specifically? any examples spring to mind?

      • Z1G
        oops. forgot to comment on this. which kinds?

        Why not all kinds? Makes it really simple. No boogey men allowed in our political or public lives. I know, it will never happen. Because as we all know, people need something to blame it on. Praise Allah or Thanks to Jesus. You get the picture Im sure.

      • I dunno dawg. Some boogie-men are quite helpful. Some aren’t. Saddam was a boogie-man for an unlawful war and had nothing to do with religion. I was against that. Yet when the Jesus-boogie-man states to love your enemies and do good to those who harm you, i think that this notion of shaping policy would be beneficial. at least more beneficial than the Saddam boogie-man was.

        there are many government policies that were spawned from religion taking to the public streets. Women’s voting rights, the 5 day work week, and Abolishion are just three from the top of my head. given this, would you like to put some limits on that blanket statement?

      • Z1G

        Nope, all of your examples are human beings doing the work. Saddam wasnt a boogey man, he was flesh and blood, Jesus and Allah are not. Abolition, Women’s rights are excellent examples of another human being realizing that we need to treat each other better. Just dont tell me people couldnt realize that without the aid of a boogey man. I have no issue with people dreaming and experiencing so called spiritual realms, I know many people who get those while intoxicated or during a good orgasm. What you do in private is your own deal, I just dont want public policy being directly influenced by the unseen, untouchable boogeyman.

      • T4T, yet in each of my examples the people were motivated by spiritual things. as Reinhold Niehbur put it “the oppressor will not give up power when they are shown the reasons of their oppression.” instead, Niehbur argues that change can only come about “not through reason, but by men [sic] who are motivated by reasons which aren’t entirely rational.”

        and isn’t this how policy is formed anyway? it is only because Biden rides the train every week from Delaware that high speed rail lines are being talked about. it’s his personal experience playing into his policy making. just as the Brady bill was spawned from James Brady being shot by John Hinckley, Jr. during an attempted assassination of President Ronald Reagan on March 30, 1981. So personal reasons are always at play in policy, whether acknowledged or not. so you and tildeb’s assertion that it should be objective is patently false and misguided. spiritual and personal reasons are always at play. plus there is the fact that no one is objective… not one of us.

        however, whatever the reason for the policy, it still should be “good” regardless of what bogeyman spawned it. Saddam may have been flesh and blood, but what he represented was definately a bogeyman. he was factually not any of the things the Bush Administration said he was, but they labeled him whatever they could to get our troops inside Iraq. nice try to sidestep the facts and nuance between bogeyman-Christ vs. bogeyman-Saddam btw, but it’s a fail.

      • Writing about a fail, let’s take a closer look at your reasoning here, Z1G.

        You write the people were motivated by spiritual things, which is oh so clear when contrasted with T4T’s point they were motivated by human concerns . Z1G, your ‘spiritual things’ is meaningless unless you first define how it contrasts with ‘human things’. But of course, you don’t really mean ‘spiritual things’ at all, do you? You mean religious ideology but realize that same ideology is against elevating the ‘human’ to be of primary concern in motivation, which is T4T’s point. Talk about sidestepping!

        You then take a quote and pretend that ‘not quite rational’ equals ‘religious ideology’, which you know is not synonymous. You just prefer substituting opaque language with clear language because it aids your defense not with better reasons but by muddying the waters of comprehension. Such muddying does make your position any deeper. It’s a fail.

        You then suggest that ALL policy is made by reasons not entirely rational, as if that equates with religious ideology, which just so happens to be entirely irrational (hence the requirement for faith, meaning belief without evidence). Now you have equated almost entirely rational with irrational as they were synonyms. Let’s call this point of yours what it really is: a fail.

        Now you offer some example where you presume that if policy is based on input from any source other than strictly objective reasons, the subjective element equates the policy thus influenced with policy influenced by subjective religious ideology as if these, too, were synonyms! What a tedious game you are playing with our common language. It was a fail before it’s still a fail now.

        You then make the ludicrous statement that tildeb’s assertion that it should be objective is patently false and misguided. spiritual and personal reasons are always at play. What I wrote was the state will not favour any one religion and yet this exactly what we get when politicians politicize their religious beliefs and abuse the power of their office to promote exactly this. Not only do you fail to comprehend my point, but you fail to address it, so busy are you substituting your preferred words with obfuscating changes in meaning so that your conclusion spiritual and personal reasons are always at play. plus there is the fact that no one is objective… not one of us. seems to be entirely reasonable. Well, Z1G, it may be, but it is not a reasonable counter argument pertaining to the one I made. To this end your response is clearly a fail and far more than just a side-step: it’s a leap into a different and self-made conversation using words that are improperly substituted.

        Is it heaven that forbids you from learning something if you find out that the reasons you had for your position are not very good, that better reasons are available for a changed opinion? Or is changing your mind out of the question so that you will do whatever linguistic mutilation is required to maintain the one you have?

      • I wrote You just prefer substituting opaque language with clear language […] in the third paragraph. It should read You just prefer substituting opaque language for clear language […].

        Sorry for my sloppiness.

      • Such muddying does make your position any deeper should read Such muddying does not make your position any deeper.

        Some days I cannot type very well. Such is this one.

      • how old are you? this is written in high school logic… which is okay, if you’re in high school. if you’re not, then you have work to do.

        first you didn’t answer my question as to what policies you oppose that are religiously fueled. odds are we would agree on many of the policies. you also didn’t answer my question about which politician is “right” and what politician is “bringing their beliefs in the public realm which should remain private.”

        “You write the people were motivated by spiritual things, which is oh so clear when contrasted with T4T’s point they were motivated by human concerns.”
        -i never contrasted them because to be spiritual is to be motivated by human concerns. what’s more humanistic than love your neighbor as yourself? my point is, and has been throughout this conversation, there is no separation of belief and action nor of private and public faith to religious persons.

        Z1G, your ‘spiritual things’ is meaningless unless you first define how it contrasts with ‘human things’.
        -consider it defined, see above.

        But of course, you don’t really mean ‘spiritual things’ at all, do you? You mean religious ideology…
        -no, you assume too much.

        “You then take a quote and pretend that ‘not quite rational’ equals ‘religious ideology’,”
        -huh? nope, i did no such thing.

        “You then suggest that ALL policy is made by reasons not entirely rational, as if that equates with religious ideology,”
        -no. i just stated that no policy is objective. that the reasons that spawn the policy are almost often complex and personal which combine faith elements with experience. like i said before, there is no divide in this arena for people of faith, regardless of faith.

        “What a tedious game you are playing with our common language. It was a fail before it’s still a fail now.”
        -no game being played. but you seem to be enjoying creating one.

        “What I wrote was the state will not favour any one religion and yet this exactly what we get when politicians politicize their religious beliefs and abuse the power of their office to promote exactly this.”
        -yet you fail to recognize that some policy spawned by religious beliefs are good for all. like women’s voting rights, the 5 day work week, and the abolitionist movements, all of which were spawned and carried out by church people. i’m not in the absolute business saying “any religious belief put into policy is an abuse of power” as i believe you are saying. if you are not, then i’d be happy to discuss what would constitute an abuse of power. if you are, then we don’t agree.

  49. Read the articles – here’s what I can see:

    “As I have written on numerous occasions, Islamism is a political ideology dressed in religious garments” (Mansur – Toronto Sun)

    “Since religion is all politics for radical Islamists, Islam as faith is absent from their hearts.” (Mansur – Ottawa Sun)

    Mansur makes it pretty clear Islamism and his faith (Muslim) are quite different. He seems to be pointing to same thing we see in Christians that get critiqued for saying ‘we are the real believers’. For some reason. according to Mansur his faith is pure and peaceful and in direct opposition to the ‘political’ aims of Islamism. Exactly what I have been telling tildeb for the past 40 posts or so.

    “Islamists behind the project have masterfully succeeded in greatly dividing Americans as the ninth anniversary of 9/11 approaches” (Mansur – Ottawa Sun)

    I disagree with this claim, since Islamists did not start the firestorm surrounding the problems with building that mosque (that would be tantamount to stupidity if they did).

    The division is not occuring because of his ‘Islamists’ but because of American sensibilties and I what also deem as rooted in pain mixed with ethnocentricism (culture bashing pretty much).

    I agree this man is a moderate, but there are many moderates not opposing this mosque – which was always in plain site for everyone to see in NY since it’s inception – it’s not really been hidden. There are questions about Rauf and what have you, I can see why there would be, they questioned Ali and Farrakhan when they met with world leaders in these ‘questionable’ countries (ie: Middle East). It’s the same old fear, re-packaged for a new generation…America has an enemy, you should too.

    So in some regards I agree, but John you need to temper what you are reading (from one lone guy) with what is being said in a variety of places in the Muslim world or in America. I agree, the terrorism is coming from the Middle East and it’s not a good thing – it’s a horrible thing of the worst calibre. But does this mean we should stop a mosque from being built? Is everyone associated to this terrorism thing that claims to be a Muslim? I have friends that deal drugs, am I now guilty by association and termed a danger to society? It’s too much of a jump IMO.

    • Jason

      I think my biggest beef with your take is that you think my idea is based on discrimination or hatred when its actually more along the lines of stupidity. I think the Iman and his buddies were stupid not to think more about the potential ramifications of their wanting to build at that location. I dont think they fully considered how ‘sensitive’ some people might still be and how the optical would look. I could care less about the mosque itself, in fact I have one being built 2 blocks from my house presently and only would be concerned if they decided they wanted Sharia law for the neighbourhood(the same I would for a radical church or synagogue). I stand by my opinion that it was not a very wise decision on the part of the Iman. There is an interview this evening on CNN with the Iman, it should be interesting.

  50. “I think my biggest beef with your take is that you think my idea is based on discrimination or hatred when its actually more along the lines of stupidity” (T4T)

    I see where your going with the ignorance thing (on behalf of the Muslims building the mosque), and the lack of sensitivity this mosque building is having, I can understand that. I just cannot agree this is reason enough to terminate the project.

    The facts are this mosque has been in the works for 15 months…when did you first hear any uproar about it? My guess would be 3 months back at the most. So why for 12 months was this mosque completely ignored? This was a non-issue for 12 months until some ultra-conservatives needed a bat to swing. They found one and when this one dies down, they’ll find another one.

  51. Jason

    I recently came across an interesting tidbit. It seems that the Iman and his buddies want to open the mosque on Sept. 11/11. It turns out that 9/11 is a popular date for Muslims and Christians. Go check out 9/11 1683 and 1697. If this history is true it makes for some fascinating ideas on why it would be important to open the mosque on that day. I do wonder though, is it all about promoting the religion of peace?

  52. Z1G

    Let me try to clarify myself. I understand that many people have a spiritual dimension. My issue isnt that it may affect their decision making process. I realize that we are all influenced by much of our belief systems. My issue(one that is a major concern) is that when a person quantifies their belief and turns it into an objective source of direction. Such as Jesus or Allah. In these instances it isnt a spiritual belief that aids many people, it becomes a actual entity that LEADS them even though they have no tangible proof of any such existence. Now let me ask you, would you want someone saying they derived their moral outlook from a book of Aliens(of which there is no proof), that inhabited the earth 2000yrs ago and that is their primary source for their ethical/moral system of thought?

  53. ” Now let me ask you, would you want someone saying they derived their moral outlook from a book of Aliens(of which there is no proof), that inhabited the earth 2000yrs ago and that is their primary source for their ethical/moral system of thought?”

    -proof’s in the pudding. depends on what the ethical and moral system contains and looks like and thus what type of policy it spawns.

    belief influences action, that’s all i need acknowledged. i’m against a theocracy in any form. thus, i support the mosque because to oppose it

    1.would be against the constitution
    2. would be a step toward a Christian Theocracy
    3. Would come from Christians trying to make their private personal beliefs public policy which is neither in the spirit of loving God or neighbor and thus is unChristian in and of itself.

    hope that clarifies.

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