Sunday, August 15, 2010

Why You Can't Build A Church Near Ground Zero

Like D, in the post just beneath this one, I am seriously bothered by the slippery slope so many seem to be willing to slalom down regarding a Mosque in Lower Manhattan.  Please note, I call it the Mosque in Lower Manhattan because it is not actually to be located at Ground Zero.  The media keeps referring to it as a mosque at Ground Zero, leading many to believe that the intent is to build the mosque in the crater where there World Trade Center used to be.  This is not so.

Several folks I love and with whom I usually agree are citing this article, from the Washington Post, by Charles Krauthammer, as their reasons for supporting those who would prevent a Mosque from being built in Lower Manhattan.  While the article is thoughtful and a good read, I still disagree.

Mr. Krauthammer at least expresses his opinion thoughtfully.  However, there are many hateful people out there holding up signs saying "Jesus Hates Muslims." If I truly thought the 68% of people who CNN is quoting as not wanting the lower Manhattan mosque had given this much thought tho their opinion, I don't think it would leave such a bad taste in my mouth.

But I've seen the other stories, like the one about the people who are protesting a mosque and community center being built in Tennessee. A man there actually said on the national news, "They don't believe how I believe, so I don't want it there." I think there are a lot of people in the 68% who are just bigoted against Islam. I think that's how a mosque being built in Lower Manhattan ended up being described as being "built at Ground Zero."  It's not.  It's a couple of blocks away.   How far from Ground Zero is appropriate? Can they build a project like this 10 blocks away? How about in Tennessee? Who decides?

It's definitely a complicated issue. But I worry about the fallout when we start telling any religious group where they can build a place of worship. Especially since it's happening to Muslims in more than one state.

It gives the feel of some people abusing an issue that should be sacrosanct to all Americans, the 9/11 tragedy, to promote the hate of their own agendas. As an American, that offends me to the core.

And by the way, when you limit the religious freedoms of one group, you risk the religious freedoms of all others.

Some are saying that a person associated with the Lower Manhattan community center project made statements indicating that the United States foreign policy may have had something to do with the 9/11 attacks.  Well, this is where Christians are gonna roll and tumble down the slippery slope I mentioned.  Jerry Falwell described the attack "as a judgment on America for "throwing God out of the public square."

"I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America," he said. "I point the finger in their face and say 'You helped this happen.' "

So any Christian who wants to build a church, chapel, place of prayer to a Christian God near Ground Zero?  Guess what.  By your own flawed logic, you are out of luck.

Those slippery slopes.  They always come back to bite you in the end.


  1. As they have shown over and over, the only "rights" guaranteed by the Constitution is for White, christians who believe as they do.. According to the GOPers brown people aren't covered.. be they AA, Hispanics, or Muslims... They just don't count.

  2. Construction of the mosque off-site of Ground Zero is protected under the “Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act” (RLUIPA). RLUIPA protects individuals, places of worship, and other religious institutions from discrimination and undue burden under existing zoning and landmarking laws. Additionally, zoning and landmark laws cannot:
    1. Treat churches or other religious organizations less than nonreligious institutions
    2. Discriminate against assemblies or organizations based on religious denomination
    3. Totally exclude religious assemblies within a jurisdiction; or
    4. Limit religious assemblies, institutions, or structures within a jurisdiction

    Simply put, if New York City were to deny a building permit, organizers could appeal and apply RLUIPA. This would put the burden on the city to defend why the denial occurred in the first place. This would be a hard case to make, given that it’s an issue of both freedom of speech and freedom of religion.

    US Justice Department’s RLUIPA website -

    Note: This posting is on another blog discussing the same issue.

  3. Thanks for doing the legal piece, Jenni. I'm thinking that the people arguing against the mosque do not care about the legality. That would make it a non-issue (which it clearly is). They are only worried about 1) media ratings and 2) political talking points.