I hoped that after Mayor Bloomberg so beautifully defended our constitional principles regarding freedom of religion last week, that we would finally get some relief from the talking heads who spoke out against the Islamic community center and mosque that is to be built two blocks from Ground Zero in an old Burlington Coat Factory. I guess I was wrong. Today, to my dismay, Harry Reid came out against the mosque. I realize that he is facing a tough re-election battle with Sharron Angle, who quite possibly is one of the most loud-mouthed obnoxious people on the planet. Nonetheless, it makes me sad, because Harry Reid, of all people, should know better. I guess he feels like he has to pander, but I wish he would have some principle.
Instead of following Harry Reid’s example, let’s follow the example of this Christian ethicist, Dr. David P. Gushee, who explains clearly in this Huffington Post editorial why we should be opposing a religious group building a house of worship where they own property. I just am in shock that supposedly religious people could so easily ignore the rights of another religious group. As a member of a religious minority, I feel very strongly that I must stand for the religious rights of other religious minorities. I must defend their right to worship as valiantly as I would defend my own.
Furthermore, I am tired of hearing the justification of people who believe that it is okay to ask this religious group to move somewhere else, because other people, who purported to share the same faith committed an unthinkable crime against other human beings two blocks away. Why do the worst among them get to define the parameters of a faith? Most Muslims would like to distance themselves entirely against the terrorists who committed that atrocity. The members of this particular group have spoken out numerous times against those terrorists. I don’t want to be identified with Mormons who have committed crimes in the supposed name of their religion. All religions have had violent acts perpetrated in their supposed name, and yet, all religions preach peace at their foundation. Perhaps, if we allowed people the freedom to worship and didn’t turn everything into an “us against them” conflict, there would be fewer acts of terror committed in the name of religion. Standing in the way of people’s rights to worship at places that they find meaningful does nothing to promote understanding and peace. Rather, it heightens others’ fears that we don’t view rights the same way for all people. That kind of distinction is from what I thought our Constitution was meant to protect.
More of the same story – how much I love Mayor Bloomberg as a politician.