The Ground Zero Mosque and Religious Freedom, Part Two

Since publishing my original article on this topic, I have received a lot of feedback on it, both positive and negative. The article was cross-posted at The American Catholic, Il Sussidiario, and Catholic Online. A local version of the article ran in my hometown newspaper as well. Too be sure my article has provoked an important dialog. Due to the critical judgment that I have received from Catholic friends whom I admire I would like to clarify some of my thoughts. The overall position I took in supporting the building of the Ground Zero Mosque remains the same though.

First, I recognize the building of the Ground Zero Mosque is a prudential matter in which good Catholics, Christians, and Americans can agree to disagree upon. It is prudential matter and both sides have legitimate reasons to either support or oppose its construction at the current location.

It’s important that I address my use of the word “support.” My intention in using this word has caused unnecessary confusion on exactly what I meant by it. By support I do not mean Catholics should monetarily support the construction or operation of it. Construction workers who are Catholic can legitimately refuse to work on this project. It would be more precise to say that I would “allow” or “permit” it to be built. Catholic do not have to actively support it in any other way.

It is both legitimate and reasonable for those who are against its construction to base their objection on concerns that it offends the families of the victims of 9-11. The problem though that I see in regards to current events is that some of the biggest vocal opponents of the Ground Zero Mosque are well-known neoconservatives, like Newt Gingrich and Rudolph Giuliani besides other talking heads on Fox News. Both are known for their promotion of the concept of the “Long War” against Islam. In particular they are some of the strongest drummers in beginning a war against Iran. It’s no wonder that Muslims are ignoring the request to move the Mosque to another location. As one commenter on my article said, both sides are no longer communicating to each other. There is no dialog. There is no friendship. This topic has been reduced to one of polemics and ideological arguments on both sides.

The imam’s threat of violence if the Mosque is not allowed to be built there deeply concerns me as well. This is exactly the issue that Pope Benedict XVI was addressing in his Regensburg lecture in regards to Muslims. He made the critical point that Muslims must come to terms with their acceptance of and use of violence, especially the direct and intentional killing of innocent humans, in promotion of the Muslim faith. This is something that Muslims must internally deal with and resolve themselves. The problem for Muslims lie in the fact though that violence in the promotion of their faith has its origin and roots in the very life of Muhammad, which makes it a wicked problem for them.

Most of the opponents who are the reasonable and logical ones against the building of the Mosque say it’s not about the legality of doing so. All parties recognize it is legal and permissible to build there. Therein is another problem with this topic. The state of New York and the city itself said that they wanted NYC, especially lower Manhattan, to continue life as normal after 9-11. That means all things commercial, residential, etc. NYC must remain NYC! When you can have porn stores or strip clubs there for example to my understanding, by what grounds can you then discriminate against Muslims who have done everything legally and administratively correct to build there? There is no grounds except arguments of prudence that it is offensive to the victims to do so there. That’s the reality of the situation. As Catholics we must face reality and deal with facts. Sometimes facts are not always the way we wish them to be.

At the end of the day we as Americans must give the Muslims the right to build their mosque there. We must give them the freedom of speech and religion to do so even if we strongly and passionately disagree with them. Many good men (and women) have died protecting those rights, let us not forget.

I hope my above remarks help more to clarify than confuse my own position. I’ll allow you to be the judge and look forward to your comments.

  1. With due respect…

    ” The problem though that I see in regards to current events is that some of the biggest vocal opponents of the Ground Zero Mosque are well-known neoconservatives, like Newt Gingrich and Rudolph Giuliani besides other talking heads on Fox News.”

    This is irrelevant. It isn’t a problem at all. A position isn’t invalidated because so-and-so also holds it.

    ” When you can have porn stores or strip clubs there for example to my understanding, by what grounds can you then discriminate against Muslims who have done everything legally and administratively correct to build there?”

    Again, this is irrelevant, but unfortunately the logic is all to common in the post-modern world: if we have already approved evil X, why not evil Y, and then evil Z? This is the same argument used to justify gay marriage, which it is allegedly “inconsistent” for us to oppose since we’ve already “made our peace” with fornication, divorce, etc.

    There shouldn’t be porn stores there, or anywhere. But as you say, we ought to “accept reality.” Here is the reality: we may not have the practical means to eradicate porn stores from NYC, but if we raise our voices in loud enough protest BEFORE the construction of this mosque, its builders may be moved by the spirit of friendship they claim they come in to move it elsewhere.

    I won’t hold my breath, however.

  2. Joe,

    Who the public figure-heads advocating against building the mosque is not irrelevant. It’s public relations 101. If you have bone-heads leading the charge against the enemy expect to be wiped out like Custer.

    Are you equating religious liberty with immoral sexual acts or bio-ethics, i.e. fornication, abortion, etc? Unless you can show me how religious freedom is immoral or unethical than it’s not irrelevant. Show me how building the mosque there is immoral, unethical or unjust. Is it prudent? That’s an entirely different kind of question and a reasonable one.

  3. David,

    Who the public figures advocating against the mosque are is most certainly irrelevant to the VALIDITY of one’s position on the mosque.

    I don’t deny that it could be prudentially relevant, but that distinction needs to be made clear, and I don’t think it was. Frankly, I don’t see how it could be any other way in this case.

    Secondly, what I am comparing (not equating) to those things is the willful and blatant disregard for the sentiments of the very people these mosque-builders say they wish to befriend.

    But what I am really doing is critiquing the LOGIC – which is, “since we have already done x, how can we oppose y?” That logic is fallacious, and it is applied in other areas as well.

    So, don’t confuse the logical structure of the arguments I am comparing with their content. No, offending sensibilities is not morally evil like gay marriage. But yes, arguing that it is ok to offend sensibilities BECAUSE they have already been offended in other ways IS similar to arguing that gay marriage is ok because we have already allowed other offenses against marriage. It is the same fallacy, applied in different arguments.

    I hope you will be able to see that distinction.

  4. Joe,

    My point above was that both Newt Gingrich and Rudolph Giuliani are driven by both a political agenda and ideology. That’s relates directly to the validity of their arguments. It’s not just WHO is arguing against the construction of the mosque, but WHY are they arguing against it? Do they really have the 9-11 victims interests at heart or are they using this opportunity to score political points on the scoreboard before the next Presidential campaign begins? Not mention a person can be completely right on a topic, but unless they can persuade folks to follow them how effective are they really? Who is making the case does matter.

    Give me a valid and legal argument that will prevent the Mosque from being constructed? I will go so far as asking the following question. Show me how the current law(s) which allow the construction of it are immoral, unethical or unjust? Unless you can show how it can be legally stopped, this mosque is going to be constructed regardless of anybodies feelings or emotions. Give me a rational, logical and legal argument on how this can be stopped. And then show me how that is consistent within the American tradition, both legally and historically.

  5. I would also ask by what grounds can we as Catholics deny religious freedom to non-Catholics considering our own historical experience here in America?

    How is denying religious freedom to others a reasonable position to hold as an American?

  6. David,

    You already acknowledged,

    “Most of the opponents who are the reasonable and logical ones against the building of the Mosque say it’s not about the legality of doing so. All parties recognize it is legal and permissible to build there”

    I’m one of those parties, so I’m not going to provide you with arguments for a position I don’t hold.

    You still don’t understand the objection if you are still making these demands.

    And I will state once again that the why is as irrelevant as the who as to the validity of the argument. My “why” and someone else’s “why” are different than their “why”, but we all happen to agree – for different reasons. That’s a logical possibility and in most cases the actual reality. Different “whys” don’t negate the logical validity of the argument – that those who profess friendship, undermine their own profession when they ignore the sentiments of those they wish to befriend.

  7. Whether a neoconservative is arguing against the building of the mosque or not does not make their argument less legitimate or invalid.

    How is the building of a mosque at Ground Zero (yes, I consider Ground Zero to be wherever plane parts landed and parts landed in the Burlington building) ethical or just for the community or the 9/11 victims families on the whole when about 85% of the families oppose the building of the mosque and 70% of New Yorkers oppose building the Ground Zero mosque?

    If this is really about “building bridges” as Imam Rauf says it is, why didn’t he and others reach out to the residents of New York City long before considering building another mosque? And, why is the Imam not respecting or considering the views of New Yorkers?
    The pain that this is causing 9/11 victims families could have been avoided with a little common sense if the New York City officials had declared the Burlington building a historical building.

  8. Teresa – I would argue that one’s ideology or political agenda very much effects the legitimacy and validity of their arguments.

    I think it was in the comments of my original article that I stated the voters of NYC should vote out office anyone responsible for approving the construction of the Mosque if they so choose to do so. That is a very viable option if it cannot be legally stopped in court.

    I state once again I understand those who are arguing against its construction because of the offense it gives to the victims’ families. I just don’t believe for a second that is Newt’s or the rest of the clowns’ agenda(s).

    Joe – I think we both understand each others positions. I really do. What is the legal thing to do is not necessarily the prudent or right thing to do.

    Consider their position for a moment though. Why do Muslims think the way they do? Why do they act the way they do? What is their world & life view? Islam literally means submission or surrender. One must submit to the will of Allah. Do they really care about what non-Muslims think or believe? Now ask yourself why Muslims have had to resort to violence so often in their past? If you submit you will be at peace, but if you do not submit then you must be forced to by any means necessary. In this specific case they beat us at our own game without using violence yet, only the threat of it.

  9. Does anybody honestly believe that Newt or Giuliani really care about what New Yorkers? Are they truly interested about solving this problem or striking the flint on the fire to grow it into a bone-fire? Which one best serves their political agenda, both domestically and internationally? I would argue that it serves their interest more by having the Mosque there and by flaming anti-Muslim sentiments in NYC and in general throughout the US. I wouldn’t be surprised if we find out the neoconservatives are helping to finance the Mosque in reality. That’s why this whole thing is a lose-lose proposition. Both sides are not being reasonable and no solution is in sight. I don’t think either side wants to solve the problem. In fact it’s not a problem for either side. And that’s what makes this such a wicked problem. And who is the loser in all of this? The victim families of the 9-11.

  10. For both Muslims and Neoconservatives, it’s all about power. Catholics bring an important and critical factor into the discussion, debate, dialog or feud. For Catholics, it should be all about the virtue of charity. We must love the families of the 9-11 victims. We must love our non-Catholic and non-Christian brothers. We can witness or show them that there is another way, the Way. Culture can only be transformed by Christ. He is the only one who makes this possible. A Risen Christ who transforms the hearts of fallen man.

  11. David,

    I don’t get your point.

    “Do they really care about what non-Muslims think or believe?”

    The people behind the mosque SAY they do. What they propose is inconsistent with that, however.

    ” Now ask yourself why Muslims have had to resort to violence so often in their past? ”

    Had to? They choose to, in accordance with their utterly false religion.

    ” If you submit you will be at peace, but if you do not submit then you must be forced to by any means necessary.”

    We will never be at peace, because we will never submit. To submit to Islam would be to deny Christ.

    “In this specific case they beat us at our own game without using violence yet, only the threat of it.”

    You speak as if it is a foregone conclusion that we are beaten. If they are allowed to build their mosque, it will be because they have the legal right to do so – not because they threatened us.

    “Does anybody honestly believe that Newt or Giuliani really care about what New Yorkers?”

    Irrelevant.

    “Are they truly interested about solving this problem or striking the flint on the fire to grow it into a bone-fire?”

    Irrelevant.

    “We must love our non-Catholic and non-Christian brothers.”

    Love is not servility.

    “We can witness or show them that there is another way, the Way.”

    I don’t see how not opposing the mosque will do that. What do you think they will do in the mosque? Pray to Christ?

  12. “Does anybody honestly believe that Newt or Giuliani really care about what New Yorkers?’”

    Yeah, I do. Guliani was magnificent on 9-11 and I bet the day is till etched on his brain and he mourns every one of his fellow citizens who were murdered by the jihadists on that day.

    Your suggestion Dave that you wouldn’t be surprised if “neoconservatives” were behind the funding of the Ground Zero Mosque is in tinfoil hat wearing territory.

  13. Your suggestion Dave that you wouldn’t be surprised if “neoconservatives” were behind the funding of the Ground Zero Mosque is in tinfoil hat wearing territory.

    Suggesting”neoconservatives” are funding the mosque does seem quite preposterous and an awfully long stretch IMO, Donald.

  14. the biggest vocal opponents of the Ground Zero Mosque are well-known neoconservatives, like Newt Gingrich and Rudolph Giuliani

    For what it’s worth in this discussion, neither Messrs. Gingrich or Giuliani was ever a member of or in the employ of any of the research centers or organizations erected and run by that particular intellectual circle. In 1977, Dr. Gingrich was a college teacher in Georgia active in the local Republican Party, still very much a minority taste there. Giuliani was a working lawyer whose Republican affiliation was faux-de-mieux.

  15. David is absolutely correct.

    “There is no grounds except arguments of prudence that it is offensive to the victims to do so there. That’s the reality of the situation. As Catholics we must face reality and deal with facts. Sometimes facts are not always the way we wish them to be.”

    And the only families offended by the construction of this center are those who themselves have anti-Muslim prejudice; Debra Berlingame quipped that “strip clubs didn’t destroy the Twin Towers”…as if Imam Rauf or all of Islam did. This is religious bigotry and we should be objecting to it.

    To oppose the construction of Park 51 is to either betray one’s own anti-Islamic prejudice or concede that the anti-Muslim prejudice of families deserves respect. Catholics know better than to fall into such a trap.

  16. You think liberal values like TOLERANCE can contend with the will of ALLAH?! Silly oversensitive Christians and Jews, NOTHING can stop Allah.

    http://ronmossad.blogspot.com/2010/09/build-ground-zero-mosque.html

    Imam Rauf and his supporters don’t need to tolerate feelings and opinions from the likes of you when they have DIVINE power behind them…who cares if 70% of the country disagrees, this isn’t democracy, this isn’t tolerance, this is ISLAM.

    Wait a minute…

  17. “And the only families offended by the construction of this center are those who themselves have anti-Muslim prejudice; Debra Berlingame quipped that “strip clubs didn’t destroy the Twin Towers”…as if Imam Rauf or all of Islam did. This is religious bigotry and we should be objecting to it.”

    Were the Jews who objected to the nuns at Auschwitz anti-Catholic bigots?

  18. “And the only families offended by the construction of this center are those who themselves have anti-Muslim prejudice; Debra Berlingame quipped that “strip clubs didn’t destroy the Twin Towers”…as if Imam Rauf or all of Islam did. This is religious bigotry and we should be objecting to it.”

    Muslim men who claimed to be acting on behalf of Islam destroyed the Twin Towers. To accuse the family members of the victims of bigotry because they object to the building of a victory memorial mosque is disgraceful.

  19. Dave, you seem to go through a lot of trouble to write this article if your fundamental point is:

    “At the end of the day we as Americans must give the Muslims the right to build their mosque there. We must give them the freedom of speech and religion to do so even if we strongly and passionately disagree with them.”

    Is this really all you were trying to say in so many words? Besides bashing your favorite boogey men Newt and Rudy?

    There is no move by either the Federal Govt, NY State Govt, or the NYC Govt to deny this particular band of Mohammedans their constitutional right to free speech, practice of religion, or even so much as a building permit.

    In fact the supreme leaders of the federal, state, and city administrations have all spoke out in favor of their cause to build a mosque near Ground Zero.

    But, despite all those leftist leaders doing their speechifying they are still on the wrong end of the 70-30 split in the American populace.

    It appears David you also are as well.

    -Patrick

    PS There is no dialogue with Islam. Just ask the Copts in Egypt or the Patriarch of Constantinople.

  20. To Catholic Americans,

    Evil is afoot so we to be on guard and have courage.

    We must pray for all Americans, stand up for what is right and vote for what is right.

    Jesus taught us to love saints and sinners (but not the sin). Jesus came into this world for the sinners.

    I hope that the mosque will not be built but that is irrelevant to our faith.

  21. “Were the Jews who objected to the nuns at Auschwitz anti-Catholic bigots?”

    As a matter of fact, yes, they were. They objected to the convent specifically because the nuns stated they would be praying for the conversion of souls. The Jews who protested were Anti-Defamation league secular types concerned about their postmodern vision of relativism.

    The nuns, in fact, didn’t move out of respect for JPII, either. It wasn’t until the controversy was well over and done with that they decided to leave for completely unrelated reasons.

    “Muslim men who claimed to be acting on behalf of Islam destroyed the Twin Towers. To accuse the family members of the victims of bigotry because they object to the building of a victory memorial mosque is disgraceful.”

    The fact that they assume that this MUST be a “victory” mosque when Park51 is the Muslim equivalent of a YMCA does indeed show their prejudice. It doesn’t matter what is presented to them, they will object solely on the basis that a “mosque” is being built. It is not disgraceful to accuse them of what they are demonstrating so profusely – indeed, service to the truth requires it.

  22. “The Jews who protested were Anti-Defamation league secular types concerned about their postmodern vision of relativism.”

    All of them?

    “The nuns, in fact, didn’t move out of respect for JPII, either. It wasn’t until the controversy was well over and done with that they decided to leave for completely unrelated reasons.”

    On what do you base this statement?

    “The fact that they assume that this MUST be a “victory” mosque when Park51 is the Muslim equivalent of a YMCA does indeed show their prejudice.”

    How many YMCAs do you know of that have churches in them?

  23. “How many YMCAs do you know of that have churches in them?”

    I’m aware of quite a few that have prayer rooms, if that’s what you mean.

    “On what do you base your statement?”

    The nuns were there for 9 years before they left. It was 1989 that JPII asked them to leave, five years after the nuns had moved in; the nuns didn’t leave until 1993, well after the fact.

    “All of them?”

    I have yet to find a solitary example of a Jew who voiced legitimate concerns about this convent that weren’t based on religious prejudice. If one could be found, I will gladly accept correction.

  24. “I’m aware of quite a few that have prayer rooms, if that’s what you mean.”

    No, I mean a church — the Christian equivalent of a mosque.

    “The nuns were there for 9 years before they left. It was 1989 that JPII asked them to leave, five years after the nuns had moved in; the nuns didn’t leave until 1993, well after the fact.”

    So why did they leave?

    “I have yet to find a solitary example of a Jew who voiced legitimate concerns about this convent that weren’t based on religious prejudice.”

    What would you have regarded as legitimate concerns that were not tainted by religious prejudice.

  25. “No, I mean a church — the Christian equivalent of a mosque.”

    I know of none, but seeing as Park 51 isn’t a mosque, that’s not an apt comparison, anyway. It has a prayer room. It’s not a mosque.

    Even if it WAS a mosque, though, I would still be ok with the construction. The YMCA isn’t a perfect analogy, but it does convey the basic understanding of what Park51 is intended to be.

    “So why did they leave?”

    Chalk it up to the Holy Spirit – the nuns felt they were called elsewhere. A good reason, no?

    “What would you have regarded as legitimate concerns that were not tainted by religious prejudice?”

    Show me an argument and I will evaluate it.

  26. “Chalk it up to the Holy Spirit – the nuns felt they were called elsewhere. A good reason, no?”

    Only if the Holy Spirit wrote the letter signed by John Paul II on April 9, 1993 telling them nicely to get out.

    “Once the new convent was finally ready for occupation at the beginning of 1993, there was still reluctance on the part of the Carmelites to leave the building where they had been living. Many Poles supported the nuns in their opposition to the move. With world leaders ready to come to Warsaw to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising on 19 April 1993, this recalcitrance, exacerbated by the open hostility of the Mother Superior to any move, was causing the Church in Poland considerable embarrassment. It was then that Pope John Paul II himself intervened in a letter to the Carmelites dated 9 April.

    Now, in conformity with the will of the Church, you will change your place, while remaining in the same town of Auschwitz, wrote John Paul II. This will be, for each of you, a moment of trial. I pray that Christ crucified will help you to know his will and the vocation for each of you in the Carmelite life.

    While Vatican spokesmen denied that the letter amounted to an order, the message was clear enough. While the nuns took their time in leaving the old theatre, most were eventually resettled in the new convent in the newly-built centre. But the Mother Superior and one or two others went elsewhere.

    The large cross did not accompany the sisters to the new convent and has continued to dominate the Auschwitz skyline. When negotiations to have it moved started early in 1998, they were countered by the so-called Defenders of the Cross, who planted more than 200 crosses of varying size around the gravel pit. These were removed by the police in June this year, but the large cross remains. Nevertheless, Polish-Jewish relations have flourished in the ten years since the Glemp letter. Last week Sir Sigmund Sternberg received his third Polish award. In response to the appreciation expressed by the Polish Ambassador, Stanislaw Komorowski, for his work of reconciliation, he urged Poles and Jews to join in preserving Auschwitz-Birkenau as ground hallowed by the blood of both peoples, a place where Poles and Jews were united in their suffering.”

    http://www.thetablet.co.uk/article/6740

  27. Mr. McClarey,

    The Tablet’s account is not one I have heard before. I accept the correction in humility, but stand by my other assertions regarding those who protested the convent and its relevance to the Park51 debate.

  28. “I know of none, but seeing as Park 51 isn’t a mosque, that’s not an apt comparison, anyway. It has a prayer room. It’s not a mosque.”

    Cordoba House is a mosque. Park 51 is the what they call the rest of the facility. Imam Rauf and his wife were playing games with this.

    “Even if it WAS a mosque, though, I would still be ok with the construction. The YMCA isn’t a perfect analogy, but it does convey the basic understanding of what Park51 is intended to be.”

    Many non-Christians join the YMCA. Is it your understanding that non-Muslims will be able to join Park51?

    And what exactly is Park51 intended to be? If it is just intended to be a gym for Muslims, why it so important that it be built at Ground Zero?

    “Chalk it up to the Holy Spirit – the nuns felt they were called elsewhere. A good reason, no?”

    Donald demonstrated above that you are wrong about this.

  29. “And what exactly is Park51 intended to be? If it is just intended to be a gym for Muslims, why it so important that it be built at Ground Zero?”

    YMCAs are far more than gyms; they house community events, often act as daycares, summer camps, and a showcase for municipal events (my local YMCA does this all the time).

    “Many non-Christians join the YMCA. Is it your understanding that non-Muslims will be able to join Park51?”

    I know nothing of membership requirements. I do know that they do intend to control every part of the facility, for their own purposes, which includes the prayer room:

    “We insist on calling it a prayer space and not a mosque, because you can use a prayer space for activities apart from prayer. You can’t stop anyone who is a Muslim despite his religious ideology from entering the mosque and staying there. With a prayer space, we can control who gets to use it.” – Daisy Khan.

    No doubt you are also aware of the memorials to 9/11 victims, culinary school, etc that is planned as a part of the project?

  30. As for why they would want to build Park51 near ground zero:

    “For us it is a symbol… that will give voice to the silent majority of Muslims who suffer at the hands of extremists. A center will show that Muslims will be part of rebuilding Lower Manhattan.”

  31. “YMCAs are far more than gyms; they house community events, often act as daycares, summer camps, and a showcase for municipal events (my local YMCA does this all the time).”

    Great. Why does it have to be built at Ground Zero?

    “I do know that they do intend to control every part of the facility, for their own purposes, which includes the prayer room:”

    This is part of what I was talking about. The website says one thing, Daisy Khan says another, and Imam Rauf says a third thing.

    “No doubt you are also aware of the memorials to 9/11 victims, culinary school, etc that is planned as a part of the project?”

    The description of what will actually be in this building has changed many times. More importantly, if so many of the 9/11 families are opposed to this, isn’t it kind of silly to be putting up a 9/11 memorial?

  32. ““For us it is a symbol… that will give voice to the silent majority of Muslims who suffer at the hands of extremists. A center will show that Muslims will be part of rebuilding Lower Manhattan.”

    So it is an attempt to appropriate Ground Zero for the purposes of making a sectarian statement? You don’t see anything offensive about that?

  33. First, I would like to thank everyone who has commented on my posts. This is a prudential matter therefore it’s critical we judge this matter together. For me reading all the comments are extremely helpful. It helps me to see things in a different perspective or different angle. It allows me to judge reality more deeply. Your comments allow me to refine, or change if necessary, my own thoughts. This is what friends should do for each other.

    Allow me to re-state my position which takes into consideration your judgment of my thought. Catholics should permit or allow the building of the Ground Zero Mosque. It would be most prudent though if the Mosque was built at another location where it would not cause scandal among the families of the 9-11 victims.

    I would like to share the edited thought (with his permission) of a good friend of mine who judged my article. You should be able to follow his line of thought. His comments were made in a private conversation with other Catholic friends. I hope you find his comments as insightful and helpful as I did.

    “I don’t think it affects the point of his article if the people behind the mosque aren’t about dialogue and understanding. It’s about who we are. It’s about having the courage both to explain to them why what they are trying to do is so offensive and also stand by the principles that we know are right and want them to embrace as well. In this country we have the freedom to do terribly offensive things, with just a few limitations. We have the freedom to build a mosque at a site where thousands of people were murdered in the name of Islam or to burn the Qur’an in defiance of those people. Both of those actions are extremely offensive and we should stand up and say that we don’t support them. But we should also recognize and respect their right to do it. That’s what I love about his article. He has the courage to do both. The people who want to say that building the mosque is only a free speech issue lack the courage, conviction, intelligence, or depth of character to also recognize and speak out against the horrible insult that it would be. And people who insist that it can not be built lack the courage or conviction to stand by at least one of the freedoms that make our country so great.

    You’re definitely right that lessons can be learned from the pope withdrawing the nuns from Auschwitz or the developers withdrawing their Manassas project (or even the preacher backing off from his plans to burn the Qur’an), but those lessons aren’t for us—they’re for the people who are building the mosque. All we can do—and we should do as much as our conscience implores us to do—is freely voice our opinion that building a mosque there is insensitive and controversial at best, and possibly even malicious and repulsive. By turning into an angry mob and demanding that the government act beyond its legitimate authority we don’t help anyone except on the one hand the demagogues who want to use those passions for their own gain and, on the other, those who want to call us hypocrites.

    Christianity is, as a matter of its fundamental teachings, better than Islam. Christians, as a matter of the good they accomplish, are no better than Muslims though unless they act like it.

    …David’s point isn’t that America is simply a melting pot and doesn’t have
    any defining characteristics of its own. He’s saying that one of the
    foundational principles of the US is religious freedom. In the United
    States, Muslims have the right to build a mosque anywhere that any other
    religion can build a place of worship. This principle flows from an
    interpretation of Christ’s admonition to “Render unto Caesar what is
    Caesar’s” and from the experience of many of the first settlers to come to
    this continent who fled religious persecution. Those settlers were, as you
    say, WASPs, and the secular “religion” in the US remains basically a WASP
    view of the world. But the system allows for other Christian faiths,
    including Catholicism, to coexist with Protestantism. And it allows
    non-Christian faiths to coexist with Christian faiths. As officers in the
    US Army, we have sworn to defend this right–and it is a value worth
    defending because it allows many very different people to coexist and build
    on each other’s strengths. It also arguably is one of the reasons that the
    US has remained faithful, even though Europe has largely lost touch with
    it’s religious roots. And I include Great Britain in Europe, even though
    there aare some historical distinctions that separate the two. I include
    them together because they’re both part of this tradition.

    The fact that freedom of religious grew organically from Western culture is
    an important one, because freedom of religion is foreign to Muslim culture,
    even though some Muslims have embraced it. Even if the Muslims who wish to
    build the mosque in NYC may not believe other religions should have the
    right to express themselves freely doesn’t mean that we don’t extend them
    the right to express their faith in our culture. In fact, it is even more
    important for us to recognize that right and defend it to show the world
    that we really mean for it to apply to everyone. VDH points out correctly
    how offensive it is to build a mosque near Ground Zero, but even if we
    should point that out, we should not question their right to build it there.

    We can’t apply the logic that would prevent them from building the mosque to
    religions that we agree with. Burning the Koran is an offensive action, but
    that doesn’t mean that Americans don’t possess the right to do it. I would
    argue (and recognize that people may disagree with me) that both building a
    mosque near Ground Zero and burning the Koran are offensive and we should
    argue against them, but we should also defend the right of both parties to
    act offensively. We have the right to disagree with each other in this
    country and we should have the courage to assert that right, but we should
    also have the courage to defend that right for the people we disagree with.

    What about people who want to build Ten Commandments monuments near
    government property? The ACLU constantly fights people who support those
    monuments. Although there are other historical arguments to defend building
    such monuments, why would we want to take away our strongest argument?
    Those monuments can be built because people should be allowed to express
    their religious views publicly.

    I am whole-heartedly against the building of the mosque near ground zero,
    but I whole-heartedly will defend their right to build it. That’s why
    David’s article is so great. He points out some of the weaknesses and evils
    inherent in Islam, but he also points out that because of those weaknesses
    their culture would never allow another religion to express itself publicly.
    One of our strengths is that we will–and that strength grew out of the
    Christian and European traditions.

    Please feel free to question my interpretation, but I feel strongly that we
    must adhere to our values, even when it is most difficult. I disagree with
    the people who claim that simply because we are all equally free to express
    ourselves, then our beliefs are all equal, and I am offended by their
    defense of the mosque when they fail to point out how insulting it is to
    build it near ground zero, because that almost implies that our beliefs are
    all equal. Even though we share the same right to build whatever we want in
    that location, whether Christian, Muslim, or secular, the fact that we will
    share that right is a virtue that springs naturally from Christianity and
    not Islam. I believe that Christianity offers a much better system of
    values, but if Christians choose to act no differently than Muslims and
    ignore those values, then it becomes almost impossible to argue that we
    Christians are better than Muslims. Our beliefs provide us with a way to be
    more like Christ, but that also means we have a lot more to live up to and
    that we need to act on those values even when it is hard.

    …You’re right that I probably implied a direct link between the Gospel and religious freedom. However, I was trying to focus on how religious freedom developed from Catholic and Christian doctrine and was not forced on it from outside. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that it is contrary to Catholic doctrine though (and I know that you said “Catholic tradition,” which I admit is true as a matter of how the Church acted through much of history), because that’s a hard argument to make considering Vatican 2. Vatican 2 may be pastoral, but it wouldn’t recognize the value in something that is contrary to Catholic doctrine. And to equate today’s version of “tolerance” with the Enlightenment view of religious freedom, I would argue, is a difference at least as distinct as the difference between the Enlightenment view and the Catholic. In the Enlightenment, religious freedom allowed people to stand up for what they believe. Today’s “tolerance” attempts to distort and ignore the differences, so that no one can actually proclaim what they believe, because no one can say that they believe it because they think it’s better than someone else’s beliefs.

    You’re also correct that I shanghaied David’s focus on what we should do as Catholics. That’s probably because I feel like it’s not simply a Catholic issue, but an American issue. David’s argument takes what you might call an Enlightenment view and builds on it with Catholic teachings. The Catholic Church, in its infinite wisdom, recognized the merits of religious freedom, even though it still also recognizes that a purely Catholic society may be better. And David is building on the recognition of the goodness of religious freedom by calling Catholics to recognize in the other—in a culture and society that is so foreign and in many ways evil in our eyes—human beings who are infinitely lovable because each and every one of them is the image of God. Loving them can also mean giving them the freedom to disagree with us. Loving them can also mean telling them when we think that they are wrong or their actions are evil. We don’t have a duty to love them—at least not a civic duty—but we have a calling to love them, because we are Catholic. And David eloquently set down that calling in his email.

    We can choose to love them in other ways. You’re free to believe that loving them in a sterner way and forbidding them to build the mosque would be more loving. But in our country they have the freedom to build the mosque, so David is proposing an exceptional way to do that. I know I’m reading a lot into his article and I’ve probably mixed up some of what he said with some of the things that it has inspired me to see for myself, but I believe that’s part of the beauty of it.”

  34. David Jones,

    If your point finally is that Muslims have a right to build a mosk wherever they want as American citizens, then say so. But don’t tell Christians that they have to encourage such activities out of love, for in the first place they are in gross error; the Koran absolutely denies the Divinity of Jesus Christ. Given this, the only sensible reason for Christians to tolerate mosks of various sizes is the principle of reciprocity as emphasised recently by the Vatican.

  35. “Every man is free to embrace and profess that religion which, guided by the light of reason, he shall consider true.” The following is of course condemned in Pope St. Pius IX’s Syllabus.

    Brother Dave is infected with modernist error.

    As American Catholics we can certainly acknowledge that constitutionally the Muslims have a right to erect the mosque. However, we must articulate, or at least internally understand, that morally they have absolutely no right, whatsoever to erect this house of evil.

    The infection of modernism is so striking in Catholics today. Evidenced in so many ways, but just as a quick example.. Brother David cannot even understand that a Strip Club is of a less grievous moral crime, than a Mosque. The Ten Commandments are in a certain order for a reason. Offenses against God and the His Holy Church are always of greater moral importance than sins against the 6th or 9th Commandment. To be sure grave sin is all damnable grace sin. The moral reality is that until we take seriously our moral understanding of the first three Commandments, we will never begin to fix the near-universal misunderstanding of the other seven.

    Finally, to suggest that we are living in a “special” age, when Catholics need to shelve our ancient, venerable, and doctrinal understanding of religious freedom and go beyond just acknowledging that the Muslims have a legal right, but no moral right, to build the mosque, is the height of arrogance. In every Age, men think they are special and start contemplating watering down the Catholic Faith to adjust to Times of the current modern Age.

  36. Teresa – Thank you for your correction. I should be more charitable towards neoconservatives. Blosser in the past has called me out on the carpet for this. My apologies. Truth be told I am huge fan of Newt. Both Blosser and Burgwald will tell you this. My personal desire is for both Newt and Giuliani to serve as cabinet members in the next Republican administration. Giuliani would make a great head of Homeland Security or Justice. Newt would be a great VP, Chief of Staff, etc. I must admit though their beating the war drums against Iran concerns me and it should you as well.

    Joe – I actually got a good chuckle out of your tin-hat comment. As you’re aware I have been reading and watching a lot of libertarian material over the last year. When you surround yourself by their thought like that, or anyone’s thought for that matter, you begin to think like them. I would be curious to get your judgment of Ron Paul’s thought on this exact matter? He’s been quite vocal in support of building the mosque, which is quite in line with his libertarian political philosophy.

    Art Deco – You are not actually making the claim that Newt or Giuliani are not neoconservatives are you? I think it could be quite easily proven that they are through a quick glimpse of their writings or just watching them for 20 seconds or longer. Notice who their foreign policy advisors were/are? Who do you think? Nearly all Neoconservatives. Was W. a neoconservative? Probably not, but all the key folks around him were (besides Powell) so it effected his decisions and actions.

    Andy – Welcome! Unfortunately your comments have torn down a paper tower of your own construction. I do not believe nor have I promoted the thought of what you accuse me of doing. I would caution though against referring to mosques (or Muslims which attend them) as “evil”. Clearly there is some Muslims whose actions are evil, but the same can be said of anyone. Clearly Muslims do not possess the fullness of truth, but they do believe and follow some elements of truth. All of which are rooted in Christ. If any Muslims are saved it will be because of Christ. He shall be the judge, not any of us. Let us pray for His mercy.

  37. @David

    No problem. I can understand your having some reservations about both Newt and Guiliani since they do have somewhat of a shady past. But, I am learning being charitable and giving people the benefit of the doubt is very important. I can be very opinionated myself, but trying to change my ways. I have finally found a passion in politics and theology so I can go overboard at times. People make mistakes and can change for the better so I try and keep that in mind also. God Bless.

  38. (Reported at Gateway Pundit):

    Another religion of paroxysm (female genital mutilations, women honor killings, flying jumbo jets into tall buildings, murder bombings) “precinct” heard from over at “Stop the Mosque” website.

    “We received an email today about the Ground Zero mosque stating, ‘we will build our Victory Mosque … We will even build it on top of your grave!’

    “The IP for the sender indicates they accessed their email account via a computer at the University of Washington.

    Here is the email:”

    From: Malik Bawwab
    Date: Thu, Sep 23, 2010 at 2:44 PM
    Subject: Coalition to Honor Ground Zero Contact: We Own You!!!
    To: Webmaster”

    From:
    Malik Bawwab
    malik_bawwab@hotmail.com

    Message:
    ‘My name is Malik Bawwab and I am an Arab Muslim! And we will build our Victory Mosque wherever we want to build it! And there is nothing any of you damn infidels can do about it! We will even build it on top of your grave! You can cry all you want and complain like little babies, but WE OWN YOU!!! And all my Arab brothers and sisters spit on your grave!!!’”

    Sent from (ip address): 128.208.125.114
    (D-128-208-125-114.dhcp4.washington.edu)”

    Iman Moderate Ralph’s biggest “beef” and need for “healing” related to 11 Sep 2001 was that “it” (inside job!!!) caused “problems” for muslims in America – 3,000 dead infidels . . . chopped liver. BTW: Hamas is not a terrorist organization, per this “religious” leader.

    So-called catholics that support muslim religious-hegemony schemes are either poorly catechized or comprehensively ignorant (of the filthy slanders against the Holy Trinity and Jesus Christ which are the bases of this hateful murder cult with its aggressive, infallibly ignorant, lethal zealots) or believe Gen Pet’s COIN “doctrine” is ex cathedra.

  39. The Truth will make you Free Department:

    (Again, from Gateway Pundit.)

    “The poor young Muslim teen was probably a victim of Islamophobia.

    What else could possibly explain his interest in bomb-making? Aren’t most teens building bombs these days?”

    “A Portland, Maine Muslim teen was questioned by police and released after he set off a bomb at the local Islamic Center.”

    Probably homework for jihad class . . .

  40. Art Deco – You are not actually making the claim that Newt or Giuliani are not neoconservatives are you? I think it could be quite easily proven that they are through a quick glimpse of their writings or just watching them for 20 seconds or longer. Notice who their foreign policy advisors were/are? Who do you think? Nearly all Neoconservatives. Was W. a neoconservative? Probably not, but all the key folks around him were (besides Powell) so it effected his decisions and actions.

    David Jones,

    When you use a term, you should, for clarity’s sake, use it according to its proper meaning. ‘Neoconservative’ was a coinage of Peter Steinfels unknown prior to 1979. It described a specific circle of academics, publicists, and politicians disaffected with regnant strands of thought within the Democratic Party. It was not a good descriptive term, as some of the members of that circle were unreconstructed social democrats, but it was used in a consistent way at the time and adopted by members of that circle. Neither Gingrich nor Giuliani was associated with this circle. As noted by Norman Podhoretz himself, the specific collection of persons so associated dissipated around 1991 as some of the issues which brought them together lost their salience.

    Of late, the term has been used opposed to ‘palaeoconservative’. Whatever pretensions the folks at the Rockford Institute may console themselves with, they are representative of a strand of thought which emerged in public discourse in stages over the period running from 1981 to 1992, and of modest significance. Given the performance of their preferred candidates and the circulation of their publications, one can wager that they represent about 5% of those with a bone to pick with the Democratic Party and the establishment which surrounds it. What you are calling ‘neo-conservative’ is simply the general run of thought outside the Democratic Party, the helping professions, the arts & sciences faculty, &c.

    Also, when you are tempted to make statements like, “For both Muslims and Neoconservatives, it’s all about power”, stick a name in there and see if it makes sense. Try this, “For Joseph Epstein, it’s all about power”. The statement is non sequitur.

  41. Dave,

    I’d be interested in you answering my points.. be they paper towers or not.

    How is giving worship to a false god not evil? Or are you stating that Muslims worship the true God?

    Is either giving false worship to the true God or true worship to a false God less of a moral crime than operating a strip club?

    Please engage all my previous comments from yesterday, if you can, rather than dismiss them.

  42. Dave states: “I would caution though against referring to mosques (or Muslims which attend them) as “evil”. Clearly there is some Muslims whose actions are evil, but the same can be said of anyone. Clearly Muslims do not possess the fullness of truth, but they do believe and follow some elements of truth.”

    I never called Muslim individuals evil. However, Mosques, by definition, are an evil.

    Evil being defined as any defect in the world. As the Catholic Encylopedia states, “Thus evil, from the point of view of human welfare, is what ought not to exist.”

    You’d admit that God did not will the existence of Islam or individual mosques. He certainly allows them to exist, but He didn’t ordain the establishment of Islam? Or are you a Calvinist now?

    That Islam possesses “elements of Truth” is pointless. All men and all religions possess some element of truth. Anything less than the fullness of Truth is by definition an evil, since it’s a defection of what ought to be whole and perfect.

  43. Art Deco – I understand what you’re saying and I agree with you as far as recognizing that Gingrinch and Giuliani were not part of the original movement, but the movement has evolved over time. Too be sure they follow this political philosophy in large part now, at least in many regards to their foreign policy positions. This entire conversation about Neocons has been going on for years on my personal blog. Refer below.

    http://ressourcement.blogspot.com/search?q=neocon

    Andy – what does the Catholic Church teach about the God who Muslims worship?

    What does the Catechism of the Catholic Church teach us? Refer specifically to 841, but this should be read in context of 839-841.

    http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/p123a9p3.htm

    I would also refer you to Lumen Gentium 16, Nostra Aetate 3, & Ecclesiam Suam 107.

    http://www.usccb.org/seia/textsislam.shtml

  44. Dave,

    Thanks!

    Wow. That clears everything up! The Muslims follow the faith of Abraham; and we and they actually worship the same God.

    Really there are many paths that lead us to God and salvation.

    Let me forward those links to every serious Catholic struggling with these issues.

  45. David, there is no movement, and there is no ‘philosophy’. There never was a movement or a coherent conception of justice distinct from any other common in the American political discussion. There was an intellectual coterie with a menu of complaints, a coterie which lost its defining characteristics nearly twenty years ago. William Kristol has his particular background and interests, as does any prominent Republican you would care to name. He is not the promoter of a distinct tendency of political thought.

    As for Gingrich and Giuliani, the most distinctive thing about them is the mess of their domestic life, and, in the case of Giuliani, the rather cynical and repellant way he has approached certain social questions over the years. Neither man acquired his vices from listening to Albert Wohlstetter.

  46. AD: Not to mention neither Giulliani nor Gingrich advocated (nor condoned by faint condemnation and intimations that America deserved it) slitting flight attendants’ and pilots’ throats, flying jumbo jets into tall buidlings, female genital mutilations, women honor killings, etc.

    Disparate Treatment Department (from the Catholic Caveman):

    “Mohammedan cleric calls for beheading Dutch politician

    “Just a few short weeks ago, a rather obscure pastor in Florida, Terry Jones, calls for a public burning of the koran.

    “Cries of condemnation came from all quarters. From both Republican and Democrat politicians (to include the Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton); to the US Commander on Afghanistan, General David Petraeus; to foreign governments; to mobs of mohammedan thugs threatening ‘Holy War’, other than the one currently under way against The Great Satan.

    “But when Australian-born moslem cleric Feiz Muhammad calls for the beheading of Dutch Parliamentarian Geert Wilders, very few eyebrows were raised by the very same politcians, military leader, foreign governments or mobs.”

  47. Art Deco – you have a very rigid definition or understanding of the term “neocon,” which many folks do not follow. In contemporary jargon it has a much looser and broader meaning, both in Catholic venues and in secular political ones as well. Additionally, I am not defending the personal lives of these men. In fact, I would argue that for that very reason they will not get the Presidential nomination. If a Republican wins the main race, they could serve a cabinet level post very effectively though.

    Andy – All Catholics should ask themselves what the Church teaches on all religious/spiritual and moral issues. They should find out what it does teach and then attempt to understand it with a sense of humility. The Holy Mother Church has much to teach us, which includes the Church and the Popes since 1965 to present.

  48. In contemporary jargon it has a much looser and broader meaning, both in Catholic venues and in secular political ones as well.

    It has no meaning. It is a political cuss term made use of by people who substitute abuse and fanciful speculation (centered on people who took classes from Leo Strauss forty years ago, go figure) for actual discussion of policy.

  49. “All Catholics should ask themselves what the Church teaches on all religious/spiritual and moral issues. They should find out what it does teach and then attempt to understand it with a sense of humility. The Holy Mother Church has much to teach us, which includes the Church and the Popes since 1965 to present.”

    Exactly, like dealing with the 1,965 years of constant Catholic teaching and understanding. When will that discussion, with humility, take place in “neo-conservative” magisterialist Catholic circles?

  50. Exactly, like dealing with the 1,965 years of constant Catholic teaching and understanding. When will that discussion, with humility, take place in “neo-conservative” magisterialist Catholic circles?

    Just what are you talking about?

  51. Pingback: The Ground Zero Mosque and Religious Freedom, Part Three « The American Catholic

  52. Pingback: The Ground Zero Mosque and Religious Freedom, Part Four « The American Catholic