I am appalled by the crazed rhetoric coming from people who oppose the construction of that Islamic Cultural Center two blocks from Ground Zero in New York. It is ill-informed and often inflammatory. On the part of many candidates for office, it is nothing more than a blatant attempt to exploit ignorance and fear of Islam to get votes.
And although a lot of ink has been spilled on both sides of this controversy, there is one factor I have not heard mentioned. The United States -- as a result of an act of Congress -- has an official Commission on International Religious Freedom. Every year, its members assess and grade the state of religious freedom in other countries around the world, with severe criticism aimed at several every year. Many of those criticized annually are predominantly Muslim nations.
If we were to prevent construction of this Islamic Center, how could we dare to stand in judgment of the rest of the world when it comes to religious freedom? We would be hypocrites of the first order. And in one act, this would undermine all our efforts to build positive relations with the Muslim world.
I spent some time recently reporting a story in the Kensington area of North Philadelphia (gunshots are heard often, residents say, and two men were shot the night I was there across the street from the house where I was staying) and had the opportunity one morning to meet Sr. Margaret McKenna.
She was conducting a Bible study that day for 20 or so addicts in various stages of rehabilitation, all part of the New Jerusalem Community, which she’s been running for the past 20 years. More on her and her work in the future. (In addition, she’s an award winning urban gardener and offered some wonderful home-made apple pie made with apples from a tree in her back yard.)
Have you seen this?
A substantial and growing number of Americans say that Barack Obama is a Muslim, while the proportion saying he is a Christian has declined. More than a year and a half into his presidency, a plurality of the public says they do not know what religion Obama follows.
Could this become a significant source of revenue to Pennsylvania and West Virginia churches as the US tries to move beyond oil as its major of power? NCR's Rich Heffern recently had some thoughts on the subject.
I see that “Eat, Pray, Love” has attracted the ire of some Catholics who have expressed their dissatisfaction with its kiss off of our faith. I get the point. The movie tracks the story of a woman who sets out on a journey all across the world after it dawns upon her that she is not getting want she wants out of her life. And soon she is being told that God is everywhere and to look within.
I saw the move last night and, well, it is awful, full of forced melodrama, mid-age yet adolescent introspection, and cheap spirituality with a nod in the last minutes to any communal religious dimension whatsoever.
I am in principle firmly in favor of Muslims being permitted to build a mosque two blocks from Ground Zero or anywhere else zoning laws permit.
I'm also fearful that building the mosque there will result in violence. Lunacy has become a major growth industry in America.
My solution is to use the proposed mosque site for another, related purpose. Use the space to display a large, elegant sculture (or another suitable symbol) commemorating Muslim contributions and good will to America's life and ideals. It could be a striking monument of sorts to all those American Muslims who have acquitted themselves so well as citizens of this country.
Then build the actual mosque somewhere else.
Nobody would have to lose face, a Muslim presence at the scene could be preserved and violence could be averted.
The AP sorry found here.