Any of you who know me, know that I am intensely patriotic and committed to Christian faith and tradition at the deepest level. That doesn't mean I am for the abuse of the liberties of Americans who do not share my faith.
When you peel away the politics, the facts of the matter here are as follows:
- Park51 is a proposal for a community center focused at promoting American Islamic beliefs and interfaith dialog, part of which will include a prayer space for Muslims. There are already other such prayer spaces within 800 ft. of the proposed site where Muslims have assembled and worshiped peacefully for 40 years.
- The proposed site is not on "Ground Zero" unless all of lower Manhattan is declared as such. Much as I understand the scale and impact of 9/11 living near to the city and having worked in and around the site for a couple years after 9/11, I can't abide those that would call all of lower Manhattan "holy ground". It is a city and business center that has grounds with quite varying levels of holiness, and there are a lot more important things we can do to increase it's holiness then try to keep out Muslims who are already there. Much as I can get myself worked up over a discussion of the Crusades or the Battle of Lepanto, this part of Manhattan just isn't the equivalent of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem where Jesus Christ lived, walked and taught.
- The people proposing this project are not radical jihadists. In fact they are just the sort of Muslims that jihadists hate for conceding and pandering to infidels of the West. The Wall Street Journal says of Faisal Abdul Rauf "Mr. Rauf, a Kuwaiti-born cleric who came to the U.S. in his teens, is an unlikely rabble-rouser. Over three decades, he has denounced terrorism and anti-Semitism, attended "peace seders," and preached democracy and human rights for the Muslim world. His congregation is diverse, bringing together black, Asian and Arab Muslims in lower Manhattan. The FBI once hired him to teach agents about Islam."
When we attempt to supress the rights of this group because it makes some groups of Americans uncomfortable (even if they are or become a vocal majority), we ignore the very best parts of our Democratic and Christian roots. If we fail to have charity for our fellow citizens, and if we place no value on their religious freedom, how can we claim to be Christian or American?
For a couple other reasonable explanations of what is going on see these articles on the "Ground Zero Mosque" that really is not a Mosque and not at Ground Zero:
- When a 'Ground Zero mosque' really is neither
- What mosque at Ground Zero? Why all Americans have a stake
Let's let the laws of the land and building codes of Manhattan govern here, and let reason, charity and decency guide the rest of our actions and we'll all be a lot better off. If the projects proposers decide to relocate to keep the "peace", it may make some politicians happy or feel vindicated, but I don't think any great justice will have been done.