Before I get to my main topic, I wanted to mention the quote I put up the other day.
Secular schools can never be tolerated because such schools have no religious instruction, and a general moral instruction without a religious foundation is built on air; consequently, all character training and religion must be derived from faith . . . we need believing people.
I want to wait a little longer before I write about it, because I'm curious to see how many people agree with this point of view, and to see if I get any more guesses on who said it. I'm sure you already know how I feel; I believe that religious instruction has no place in public schools. I'll write more about that in a couple of days.
Now, let's get to it, shall we? I wrote about the Ground Zero community center over two months ago, but it is once again very much in the news.
First, please note that I did not call it the "Ground Zero mosque," which is usually how it is being referred to. It is a community center with one room to be designated as a prayer room, if I understand correctly.
Second, it is not being built right on Ground Zero. It is two or three blocks away, with plenty of intervening buildings—very TALL buildings...have you been to New York?—so it's not like it's going to be in the face of anyone who visits Ground Zero.
Okay, I got those pertinent points out of the way. I think they are important, because they seem to be being ignored by many at the moment.
New York City's Mayor Bloomberg has already stated in a speech that he supports the project on the basis of religious tolerance. A group of forty religious leaders (including Catholics, evangelicals, Jews, and Muslims) released a statement condemning the "inflammatory statements" of people like Newt Gingrich, Sarah Palin, and FoxNews. They called for civil dialogue and the upholding of our treasured diversity and high ideals as a country. The story garnering the most attention at the moment is President Obama's speech at a Friday night dinner in observance of Ramadan, in which he stated:
Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as everyone else in this country.
That includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances. This is America, and our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakable.
Of course, he was attacked for saying such a thing, he cares nothing about the victims or their families, he sympathizes with Muslims, he IS a Muslim, blahbitty blah blah blah. On Saturday, he said this about his comments:
I was not commenting and I will not comment on the wisdom of making a decision to put a mosque there. I was commenting very specifically on the right that people have that dates back to our founding. My intention was simply to let people know what I thought. Which was that in this country we treat everybody equally and in accordance with the law, regardless of race, regardless of religion.
In accordance with the law. That is a very key phrase, and I think we need to keep it in mind. As a friend in New York put it, they value their diversity and treasure it; so should we all. I also get the impression that New Yorkers are becoming a little weary of everyone weighing in on this drama taking place in their city. I understand that, but I think they also understand that all of us own a bit of Ground Zero. Most of us weren't there on that day, but you know that we were all with you in spirit. So we can't help but get ourselves into a dither about this!
Anyway, I truly believe that those who oppose this (and I understand that the majority do--I'm in the minority on this one) are looking at this on a purely emotional level. Yes, of course I get emotional when I think of that day. However, I also believe that it is of the utmost importance that we preserve our constitutional liberties and guarantees of the right to worship or not worship as every individual sees fit. It's what we were founded upon, folks, and that is very much worth preserving. As I stated a couple of months ago, I would prefer that no place of worship be built there. Frankly, I'd rather see a library or school where people could educate themselves rather than another indoctrination center. I also think it's important to keep in mind that those who perpetrated this act were extremists, and not typical of every person of that faith. We cannot vilify an entire group of people because of the acts of a few.
I'm with those religious leaders—I can't believe that just came out of my mouth—in believing that the intense rhetoric coming from people like Gingrich and Palin is divisive and inflammatory and based on a quest for political gain. It serves no purpose in uniting our country or celebrating our diversity, and does nothing to preserve our founding principles laid out by the framers of the Constitution. I realize that it is a highly emotional issue, but there are times when we have to set emotion aside and look at things logically and rationally. We need to remember that our nation was founded upon tolerance and acceptance of all faiths. I choose to do that, and I wish that more of my fellow Americans would make that same, logical choice.
I'll end on a happy note with a video from The Only Band That Matters. I posted this on Facebook and said that if the new community center rocks as much as the Clash, that would be really awesome! That would be a cool neighborhood addition!