Ground Zero Mosque
Back in 2009 when the proposed construction of the Ground Zero Mosque was a hot topic I designated Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the guiding force behind the project, the Flim Flam Imam because of his speaking of peace and ecumenicalism in the West while speaking quite another message to his funding sources in the Middle East. If the allegations of a law suit are to be believed, there is another reason now to refer to him as the Flim Flam Imam:
Instead, the controversial imam used some of the cash to provide lavish gifts and getaways to a woman identified as Evelyn Adorno, who shared “a personal relationship with Rauf,” said Deak’s attorney, Jonathan Nelson.
I would like to continue our conversation regarding The Ground Zero Mosque, Religious Freedom, and Interfaith Dialog with Islam. Earlier posts on this topic can be found here (Part One, Part Two, & Part Three).
Johan Bonny has written what I consider to be a very helpful article entitled “Christian Witness and Ecumenism in a Society with a Muslim Majority“. (HT Stephen Hand ~ Time Out of Joint) I especially appreciate how he deals with the issue of violence and how he refers folks to the life of Brother Charles de Foucauld. I encourage everyone to read the entire article, but here are some highlights for your reference.
Christian and ecumenical witness is first of all related to the heart of the Gospel, to the example and the commandment of Jesus Christ. How can Christians live and profess together the essence of Christian faith: this is the key question in any ecumenical reflection. This question, however, leads to a deeper one: what is then the essence, the very heart of Christian faith? What is the specific genius of Christianity among the three monotheistic religions, that has Abraham as their common father in faith: Judaism, Christianity and Islam?
…The dialogue between Christianity and Islam will certainly become a major challenge of the new millennium. No dialogue, however, has a chance, unless it is based on friendship and mutual trust. How can personal trust and friendship be improved, where Christians and Muslims are living together, day after day?
In my previous posts on this topic (Part One and Part Two) and the comments contained therein, one of the things which I feel is missing in this discussion is a dialog about the humanity of Muslims. Are Muslims human? Do Muslims have a religious sense? Do Muslims desire for truth, beauty and goodness? In stead of writing about this, I am going to show you. Watch this entire 60 Minutes program and judge it. It is simply amazing. Let us dialog about it in the comments.
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.
[Update: RealCatholicTV is back online!]
Salvete TAC readers!
Here are my observations and opinions on the Catholic Church in the Internet:
1. A RealCatholicTV (RCTV) representative is reporting that they have been experiencing technical difficulties and should be up and running by Tuesday evening at the latest.
The RCTV Facebook page reports that they could be up as early as this evening!
2. Last nights Sunday Night Live on EWTN had Father Benedict Groeschel interviewing Archbishop Timothy Dolan and I have to say that the good archbishop is very impressive.
He has a strong presence and speaks well with authority. Outside of dodging a question on female altar servers, he looks to be the leading archbishop and the unofficial primate of the United States of America for the foreseeable future.
His Excellency posited that the severe drop in receiving the Sacrament of Penance may have contributed to the vocational crisis since 1968. Most of the interview though was on the recent increase in vocations though.
Another theory that His Excellency suggested was the loss of grandmothers within the home. He truly believes that grandmothers have a significant impact in passing on the faith which leads to vocations to the priesthood. But with more and more families sending their dear grandmothers to retirement “homes”, the family is losing a great advocate for vocations to the priesthood.
Cardinal’s hat within five years or less.
The debate over the so-called Ground Zero mosque near the former site of the World Trade Center in New York has raised public interest in, and opposition to, other proposed or recently built mosques and Islamic centers throughout the country.
In areas where Muslim migration or immigration has been significant, some citizens have attempted to discourage construction of new mosques. Few come right out and cite the threat of terrorism; more often they seem to resort to time-honored NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) tactics such as creative interpretation of zoning ordinances, claims of decreased property values, or claims of real or potential problems with traffic, noise, etc.
Before I go any further, I want to make it clear that I understand the need to be vigilant regarding the potential for violent subversion, as well as the dangers of taking such a politically correct approach to militant Islam that people hesitate to report obvious suspicious activity for fear of being labeled bigots (as seems to have happened in the Fort Hood massacre case).
Travelling in the second half of last week, I had occasion to realize how pervasive the TV news coverage of the “ground zero mosque” has become — perhaps in part because it is doubtless a dream situation for TV news producers: All you have to do is draw 3-4 people into the studio and have them debate the question for twenty minutes, throw in a couple of commercial breaks, and voila! you have another 1/48th of the twenty-four-hour news cycle. I was reminded again of how glad I am to have cancelled the cable TV subscription and never put up an antenna.
As I think about it, this seems to me a made-for-TV controversy in more ways than one. For all the talk about this being the “ground zero mosque”, the location two blocks away will not be visible from the WTC monument itself, and is currently occupied by sacred precincts such as the offices of the University of Pheonix, Marty’s Shoes and the Dakota Roadhouse. This is New York, for goodness sake. A thirteen story building isn’t exactly going to stick out. And the visible symbols of religion closes to Ground Zero will remain St. Peter’s Catholic Church, St. Paul’s Episcopal, and John Street United Methodist. (If anything, it’s a little disappointing the plans for the mosque look rather like a vertical shoebox with abstract patters on it — no minarets here.)
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I figure it’s time for me to finally put down in a sort of structured way what I think about this “ground zero mosque” controversy, beginning with the admission that I know it isn’t “only” a mosque, but a mosque is a part of what will hereafter be referred to as that “construction project.”
Next, I might simply wrap it up by saying I think that Charles Krauthammer, a man with whom I typically find little to agree with, is absolutely right in his assessment of the entire situation, while Ron Paul, a man with whom I typically find much to agree with, is almost entirely wrong in his own assessment, which makes repeated appeals to property rights.
Let me give you Krauthammer’s thesis, which is also a reply to this sort of argument, and which has been my own since the first day I heard about this:
No one disputes the right to build; the whole debate is about the propriety, the decency of doing so.
In my own readings and heated debates, the refrain I hear from the defenders of this construction project is the same as Obama’s: they have a right. What this argument boils down to is this: “we are doing this because we can, because you have no legal standing to stop us, and all of your complaints are irrelevant.”
One of the interesting (by which I mean dull, predictable and repetitive) aspects of the 24 hour news cycle is that all forms of media have incentives to magnify and actively seek out controversy. Not only does this increase ratings/page views/newspaper sales, it provides media outlets with something – anything in a slow news month – to talk about. I can’t help but feel that the recent outburst of commentary about the construction of a mosque near the site of the 9/11 attacks is the type of story designed to increase media consumption and accomplish little else. The First Amendment is not in dispute here; freedom of religion is well established and protected by settled case law. Furthermore, the proposed mosque is to be constructed on private property, and there is no legal reason to challenge its construction. And so most of the discussion revolves (and frequently devolves) around taste and symbolism.
This is a viral video sweeping the Internet by a group opposing the building of the Ground Zero Mosque.
The Muslims wanting to build the mosque have their reasons of putting on the face of a peaceful and moderate Islam, but the venue they have chosen couldn’t have been any worse.