Religious Freedom:  It was fun while it lasted.


Suggest a Place of Worship


website by BKTHD

I haven’t heard many people disagree with me regarding my stance on building a mosque on Ground Zero, but I’d like to discuss it rather briefly since it’s been occupying my thoughts.

How the heck could we ever tell a Muslim to not put a mosque wherever they want in America?  Like, hello…this is AMERICA.  You know, land of the free?

I in no way minimize the hurt that the families and friends of 9/11 feel.  I pray that God gives them strength to deal with this very sensitive issue.

However, if we become the type of country that stifles religious freedom, the terrorists that committed these heinous crimes are one step closer to achieving their goal; Death to America.  Not to the people (although that was certainly part of the plan) but to our ideals.  They want us to be more like them:  Unforgiving, oppressive, and controlling.

Do I want the protestors in Manhattan to go home, take down their signs and give up?  Heck no!  I encourage and support their rights to protest what they feel is a slap in the face to the sadness that occurred in 2001.  They have every right to do so, this is America.

Do I support the man responsible for building this Mosque *ahem* sorry….Islamic Cultural Center….um…..mosque….Absolutely NOT.  I think he is an insensitive punk and this is a really crummy way to try and make right what has been so wrong for the past decade.  But do I support his right to build it?  Absolutely, this is America.

Would I, if some radical, fanatical Christian group killed 3,000 people build a Mega-church 2 blocks away from their burial ground? No.  No, I wouldn’t. I sure would want the right to do so though.  Ya know why? THIS IS AMERICA.

So, I have a couple of things to say to those playing politics on this issue:

Sarah, you’re so darn cute, but sit this one out, mmk?

Newt, your Holocaust example is absolutely not the same.  You should have kept that mouth shut.  Now you really can’t run for office.  I was likin’ you too.

Harry Reid, good try, buddy. But you’re grasping at straws….You’re LOSING THAT SEAT anyway.

Finally, Obama.  Why are you making guest appearances on the View? I know this has nothing to do with the Mosque, but I'm just dying to know.




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  • JamesBrett

    JamesBrett August 18, 2010

    that is it!  i’m fed up to here with all you religions thinking the government should do your own special thing and that you should be able to put a place of worship anywhere you want—or keep someone else from putting a place of worship anywhere they want.  this nation wasn’t founded to be a christian nation, a muslim nation, or an eckankarian nation.  if you guys can’t play well together, then nobody gets a place of worship!  not at ground zero or anywhere else.  now go to your rooms and think about what you’ve done.  and there will be no x-box tonight.

  • Tony York

    Tony York August 18, 2010

    I agree with your sentiments and arguments here.

    Can I play Devil’s Advocate and ask what happens when a religion’s practices are detrimental to those who are not of like faith?  For instance, what if I had a religion that required me to sacrifice my neighbor’s dog without asking his permission?  Should I be allowed to practice my religious freedom? 

    I think most of us would answer that there are limits to religious freedom in this example.  If we are willing to make that boundary, could we then question whether or not the practice of setting up a mosque in an area where contingents of that faith committed an atrocious act under the same thought that it could be detrimental to those who are not of like faith?

    Not disagreeing with you.. just opening a question and maybe a point, that religious freedom can and should be trumped in certain situations.  I don’t know how we would define that line.

    As for the matter at hand, I think it is a very, very poor decision for the group that wants to build this mosque in the area of the 9/11 attacks but I agree they have the right to do so within the legal setting.  What is legal is not always beneficial.

  • JamesBrett

    JamesBrett August 18, 2010

    i certainly believe there are practices which the government should not allow religious groups to perform—whether it be sacrificing someone else’s dog or murdering scores of people.  i don’t believe religious freedom is the end all.  but also, it is these acts that should be disallowed in my opinion, not the group itself or their place of worship or learning.  i think we’re too quick to punish people for who they are (race, religion, gender, etc), rather than for the acts they’ve committed.

    just for the record, i would support the group (some of whom had sacrificed my dog) being able to build a place of worship near my neighborhood if zoning, etc, allowed it.  my dog’s demise would be a past event, which i would have forgiven.  BUT, i would fully expect any in that group to be punished if they starting sacrificing neighbors dogs.

    holding grudges isn’t nice, and neither is complaining about religious freedoms granted to a particular group while holding all of them responsible for the sins of a few.

    all of that said, i do think the muslims are being incredibly rude in this.  i just don’t believe our christian response is to return the favor.  i think we’d all be better off if the mosque didn’t exist—but i think the christian response, either way, should be to quit complaining and crying about it, and instead be Christ.  no way he gets upset about this.

  • Tony York

    Tony York August 18, 2010

    Definitely agree with you, James.

    There two ways to look at the issue: religious(faith) or government(law).

    From a Christian faith, we shouldn’t be concerned about it to any great detail beyond natural concern to show light to those who do not have it.

    From a government standpoint, there is a matter of protection of rights.  The hard balance is when does one right supersede that of another.  Kinda like you can’t shout Fire in a crowded theater and expect to be covered by first amendment rights because there is a greater right to protection of life.

    I value the American right to religious freedom, however, I don’t want a strange ‘church’ taking up residence next door to my house if they like to practice human sacrifice.  In that case it is very easy to understand the protection issue that supersedes the religious freedom right.  How far up the scale should we expect the government to protect other rights as greater than that of religious freedom?  We know that the government won’t recognize polygamy even though there are religions that believe it right to practice.  I would argue that within a geographical context, the government should or should not protect against that practice depending on how it impacts surrounding peoples.  If you have a state that is predominantly fundamental Mormon, shouldn’t they be allowed to practice polygamy?  I, mean, who is getting hurt?  You can see how easily this could move into a discussion on gay marriage and so forth.

    I think we can all agree that religious freedom is not a free-for-all for choosing how we want to live or what we want to do from a governmental standpoint. 

    Ultimately, I was raising a question of whether building a mosque in an area that would be highly sensitized by that act, could be construed as a ‘protectable’ right against that action.

    The callousness of the group constructing this building should raise questions if only to make them think about what it is they are doing.  I certainly wouldn’t play with my puppy in front of the neighbor’s house whose dog my wife just accidentally ran over with her car.  That is more of a social awareness issue than a matter of law.

  • JamesBrett

    JamesBrett August 18, 2010

    building the mosque in an area “highly sensitized by that act” could be described as rude and insensitive.  and i agree with you that i myself would never do such a thing (with worship place or walking my dog).

    but my understanding is that what we’re facing now is a group that is not going to act like you or i would.  so i believe the christian response is to be quiet about it, accept them, and love them—despite the harm some in their group might have caused in the past or, God forbid, will cause in the future.

    as for what the government does or doesn’t do, i don’t know any reason they could / would “make” it illegal for the mosque to be built.  but i’m speaking to the issue much more from the standpoint of a christian than u.s. citizen.  it just seems Jesus would let the mosque be built and love those who are building it.

  • Jessica

    Jessica August 18, 2010

    Oh man, Tony.  You really got me thinking. 

    If Islam actually stood for killing Americans, I would say to heck with their religious freedoms, and I wouldn’t bring my puppy anywhere near they mosque.  So yes, there is a boundary to which their rights take back seat to our protection. 

    With that being said, I think that’s part of the issue I see today.  Many are grouping radical Islam into regular ole’ Islam and the regular ole’ Muslims are paying the price for our prejudice and it’s threatening our freedoms.

    So I guess my answer to “Is building a mosque in an area that would be highly sensitized by that act, construed as a ‘protectable’ right against that action?”  I seriously hope not. Because the feelings and sensitivities that these people are experiencing isn’t (or shouldn’t be) against Muslims, or the owner of this mosque, it’s against specific individuals (not a group or faith) who chose to do a heinous crime.

  • JamesBrett

    JamesBrett August 19, 2010

    i feel like even if all islam is/were for killing americans, the christian response should still be to allow them their place of worship.  perhaps the government would do something different, but i don’t think christians should.  and really, even then, i wonder if the proper government response still isn’t to allow them their place of worship, but punish any wrongdoing in (or away from) that place of worship.

    -we don’t prevent d.u.i. offenders from ever owning a car again.  we may revoke their rights for a time, or fine them, or even put them in jail.  but they still can own a car.

    -we don’t take away from prostitutes the right to rent hotel rooms.  rather, they are punished for crimes committed.

    -i would make the same argument for guns.  we should punish wrongs that are done, not guns that are possessed. 

    and in the above, we’re talking about people who have actually themselves committed these crimes.  to continue the analogy more in keeping with this whole muslim thing:

    - we don’t disallow car ownership to males between the ages of 17-24, just because (i’m assuming) they make up the highest percentage of drunk drivers.

    -we don’t prevent all pretty women dressed like skanks from renting hotel rooms, just because many women like that have been guilty of prostitution.

    -nor should we take guns away from all postal workers, because a few have killed their co-workers.

    i realize i’m oversimplifying it.  but for me it comes down to these two things:

    1) our government should allow freedom when at all possible, and punish wrongs done—not wrongs done by people like me, but wrongs done by me.

    2) christians should not only allow freedom when at all possible;  but they should defend the rights of the oppressed—while giving up their own if necessary.  that’s what Jesus did.

  • Tony York

    Tony York August 19, 2010


    I totally get what you are saying.. and I agree with it.  From a Christian standpoint, I have no qualms with the mosque being built.  From a governmental standpoint, they are fully within the legal rights to own property.

    I was playing the devil’s advocate to raise some thoughts that may have otherwise been overlooked. I do believe there is a level of social responsibility that we should hold each other to and I think there are a lot of government laws and regulations that are there to enforce certain social awareness issues, such as:

    1) Controls on where adult entertainment establishments can be in business.  How many of us want our child attending JFK Middle School and having a combination Strip club and sex toy shop right across the street? (Would you as a Christian support that establishment’s right to own property adjacent to your child’s school? To conduct business while your child is on the playground?) My guess is we could take the Christian aspect out of this equation and just say it doesn’t make sense for these two things to be so close together. There is a social awareness issue to think about.

    2) What happens if the Klu Klux Klan decides to build a compound in the middle of a highly diverse ethnic community.. like Harlem?  Does that make sense?  Or should there be some oversight by governing officials to protect the population from what could be an inflammatory situation?

    3) Why can’t people with certain medical(manic-depressive) issues own specific types of guns while others without those medical issues can?  Especially since the majority of them have never had an issue with shooting someone? 

    Again.. we do have situations where the law has deemed it responsible to limit certain freedoms to certain people.

    I would make one final point, is anyone trying to remove this group’s right to own land or to have a mosque?  Or are they just questioning why they are choosing to build in the area near the World Trade Center location?

    If this group had decided to build 5 or 10 miles away from where they are currently planning, we probably don’t hear a thing about it.  I think it is important that we don’t miss that part of the story.  The question isn’t really about limiting their freedoms to own land or worship.  The question is why they have chosen the place that they have.

    And while they are legally right to own and build - and while we, from a Christian standpoint, should not be up in arms about this situation - there is still the aspect of social awareness that we as a society should or could be involved with.

    Much like asking a young man to stand up to let an older lady have a seat on a bus.  One side could say that the young man was there first and it his right to have the seat. The other side could work to create laws that state older, female, or less-abled individuals have precedent in where they want to sit.

    Maybe there is a middle ground where someone wise simply asks the young man if they older lady could sit because its the gentlemanly thing to do.  Maybe he will and maybe he won’t ... if he doesn’t though, he then marks himself out for what he is.  If left on his own, he may have had the excuse of ignorance, but once confronted he then has to choose to play the part of a social buffoon or gracious fellow human being.

    I think it will be interesting to see how this all turns out.

  • JamesBrett

    JamesBrett August 19, 2010

    i enjoy our conversations, tony.  you make me think a lot.

    1) you’re right.  i wouldn’t want the sex shop next to my child’s school.  i kind of assumed government zoning would never allow that, as it’s an over-18 (or something like that) establishment.  i guess i just figured there’s something in place to keep this from happening—something related to law and sex business and minors, etc.  also this is an issue of business and making money, which i see as somewhat different than religion and worship (not that a lot of churches don’t seem to be making some serious coin).  and this is an issue of protecting children, who are not able to make good decisions for themselves (or expected to).

    2) i think the kkk example is incredibly ridiculous (maybe as is the first one), and this would definitely cause problems.  but, no, i think if that’s the property the klan wants to buy, and it’s zoned accordingly, so be it.  if there are laws broken, though (on either side of the color wheel),  then those people should be punished.

    3) i never knew certain depressed people weren’t allowed to own guns.  i guess i see this more of an issue of an individual’s personal faculties and capabilities.  just as we don’t let children or (i assume) mentally retarded people own guns because they wouldn’t be able to use them properly or safely, so is (i guess) the rule for clinically depressed.

    so out of those three examples, only the middle one seems to relate closely to the mosque issue.  the others involve children or people with inabilities to make good decisions—and we’d never suggest all muslims fall into either of those categories.

    but, tony, i’m not arguing freedom for everyone in every situation.  but i am arguing freedom for muslims (who had nothing to do with the bombings) to build a place of learning and worship 2 or 3 blocks from ground zero.

    i’m really not opposed to limiting freedoms to some people:  i have no problem with armed felons not being allowed to carry guns every again.  i have no problem with children not being able to drink beer (i wish they couldn’t drive until 18).  i have no problem with midgets not being allowed on dangerous roller coasters.  i could go on.  but i do have a problem with not allowing a group of people (based on religion, race, color, gender, or probably some other things) to worship in a location which is perfectly legal for them to worship in.

  • JamesBrett

    JamesBrett August 19, 2010

    now for the second part of your post, tony.  you asked, “is anyone trying to remove this group’s right to own land or to have a mosque?  Or are they just questioning why they are choosing to build in the area near the World Trade Center location?”

    my answer:  all over the country, christians (and others) are complaining and holding town hall meetings, etc, because of plans for mosques to be built near their homes and church buildings and malls and gas stations.  so, yes, i do think some would try and prevent muslims from owning land and having mosques (many, actually).

    that’s part of what irks me.  i feel like this whole ground zero thing is only a portion of the argument.  it’s like they think they can win this one, so they should give it a better shot.  but i want to ask these people, “how many blocks away do the muslims need to be before you’re satisfied?” 

    i’ve heard both 2 and 3 blocks for how far this community center thing actually is from ground zero.  would 4 blocks be permissible?  5, 6?  the answer is that most of the people arguing don’t want a mosque anywhere.  they just believe this is one they can stop from being built.

    all of that said, i agree with your ideas on the elderly woman and the seat on the bus.  i think the answer is not to make laws about who sits where and when they have to get up.  rather, someone should speak out of wisdom and love to that young man, requesting that he listen to reason and concern for others.  and if he does, fine.  if he doesn’t, he’s shown himself to be a jerk who doesn’t care about others.

    i think that’s exactly what should happen in this whole ground zero situation.  i may have assumed too much, but i did just assume that someone (or millions of people) had tried the route of reasonably talking through this thing with the muslim group.  and if they’ve refused, okay.  they’ve shown themselves to be inconsiderate, rude, and uncaring about many of their fellow american citizens.  but it’s not illegal (nor should it be) to be a jerk.

  • Tony York

    Tony York August 19, 2010


    These are fun conversations.  They make me think as well.  Eventually thinking through an issue that one has never fully defined will lead to some personal convictions based on some concrete decisioning instead of just ‘what feels right’.

    Let me address an assumption that your last statement seems to make.

    You said: “but i do have a problem with not allowing a group of people (based on religion, race, color, gender, or probably some other things) to worship in a location which is perfectly legal for them to worship in. “

    So based on this particular issue and the statement you have made, it appears that the only way one can worship is to own land and have a building. 

    (Of course, I am being somewhat facetious.)

    From what I have read or heard, the limitations that people wish to impose on this group of people is not a limitation of their ability to worship or to even own land.  It is merely a question of where they might do it geographically that is more acceptable.

    This is not an idea without precedent.  I will propose a totally exaggerated example to give an idea of what I mean:  If a Native American were to suddenly start worshiping the Great Spirit in the middle of a 6 lane highway because they felt there was sacred ground below the asphalt, should he be limited by the government in doing so, or should the highway be moved in order to allow this individual to worship where they want?

  • Tony York

    Tony York August 19, 2010

    By the way .. I know that my example ignores the ‘legal’ aspect of your statement.  I was just using it as a method to show support that worship can be managed in areas that would be more acceptable.

    And based on your address on the second part.. I believe we are on the same page.  They will show their respect or lack thereof for the social aspect by their actions.

    Just as we do by ours.  Lessons to be learned all around!

  • JamesBrett

    JamesBrett August 19, 2010

    “So based on this particular issue and the statement you have made, it appears that the only way one can worship is to own land and have a building.”

    yes, exactly—but that’s not all.  in order to worship any of the gods i know of, one must (and these rules are across the board):

    1) own land
    2) have a building
    3) have at least one old guy who prays or chants or sings way longer than anyone’s attention span could possibly handle
    4) have a nursery that moms would prefer not to keep and teenage girls fight over so they don’t have to go into “big church” (or “big mosque,” etc)
    5) have a once-a-year sermon on giving and contributions

    i do agree there are more acceptable (to me and many americans) locations for the muslims to build and gather and worship.  i just don’t think they want to.

    as for worshiping the great spirit in the middle of an interstate, i don’t suppose it’s an option to ask him to worship at 70 miles an hour in really short segments between turning around on exit/on ramps?

  • Tony York

    Tony York August 19, 2010

    My favorite retort ever!

    “as for worshiping the great spirit in the middle of an interstate, i don’t suppose it’s an option to ask him to worship at 70 miles an hour in really short segments between turning around on exit/on ramps? “

    I actually laughed out loud or lol’d which ever modern day parlance dictates.

    And your 5 point list is scarily funny.

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