The Center for Inquiry in Amherst NY has come out against the mosque. I’ve been pretty much avoiding this topic (not for any particularly good reason) other than to note the gagging teabaggers beating up on non-pink people that they assume are Kaaaaiiiiliiii terrorists or something.

But DuWayne Brayton posted a link, with commentary, to the CFI’s statement on the mosque, and, I find myself respectfully disagreeing with DuWayne and going in with the CFI on this one.

Religion did this. The terrorist attack was a religious event. I don’t want a mosque or a temple or a church or community center linked to a religion built in the vicinity of the destroyed World Trade Center on account of the attack any more than I want a religious structure built next to the Federal Office Building in Oklahoma City on account of that religious attack by Christian White Supremacist McVay.

In fact, I suggest in a comment on DuWayne’s post what should really happen in New York City.

Comments

  1. #1 Greg Laden
    August 27, 2010

    Of course, my comment is in moderation over there, but keep checking back! Let’s see if we can give DuWayne some bandwith pressure!

  2. #2 Tony Sidaway
    August 27, 2010

    “I don’t want a mosque or a temple or a church or community center linked to a religion built in the vicinity of the destroyed World Trade Center on account of the attack any more than I want a religious structure built next to the Federal Office Building in Oklahoma City on account of that religious attack by Christian White Supremacist McVay.”

    Satire? At least I hope so.

  3. #3 Russell
    August 27, 2010

    I don’t think McVeigh was Christian, nor that his bombing was religiously motivated. There’s plenty of Christian terrorism, of course. Eric Rudolf, as one example.

  4. #4 Aaron
    August 27, 2010

    I have to say I also disagree with the CFI here.

    Ignoring the fact that a two block radius is actually a fairly large vicinity. I don’t see the big deal.

    I’d personally prefer no new religious buildings get built, but if someone is going to build one I don’t see why the ground zero sight is particularly inappropriate. If they intended the Mosque as a slight that would be one thing, but I won’t oppose it based on other peoples interpretations of their motives.

  5. #5 Mandi
    August 27, 2010

    Where’s the line? What is considered a building linked to religion? How far away is acceptable? What about religious buildings already in the area?

    I’m sorry, but this whole business of people trying to distinguish between “legal” and “wise” is completely irrelevant and somewhat ridiculous.

    Regardless of *what* the building is, it’s private property that is being paid for by citizens – not the government.

    That is *all* we need to know, and where the conversation should stop.

  6. #6 DuWayne
    August 27, 2010

    Sorry about that, I need to turn off first comment moderation now that I have captcha (at least I think I do now). I was getting hundreds of spam comments and that was the easiest thing to do on the fly. If you didn’t get a captcha let me know, I turned off moderation.

    The problem I have with this position, is that it is just another win for the terrorists. I am all for changing churches into community centers, or at the very least cutting their tax exempt status. What I am not in favor of, is this whole “hallowed ground” attitude that too many U.S. Americans have about ground zero. That very attitude is what makes ground zero a symbol of victory for al Queda.

  7. #7 Greg Laden
    August 27, 2010

    tony: Satire? At least I hope so.

    No, it is not.

  8. #8 sailor
    August 27, 2010

    What one might or might not like is beside the point. Freedom of religion is guaranteed under the US constitution. There is no legal reason for them not to build it, so let them build it. Maybe Americans should try doing something based on their own ideals and convictions (like freedom) rather than weaving around the headlights of what those darn Mohammedans are up to.

  9. #9 Greg Laden
    August 27, 2010

    Mandi, that’s easy: Ask the IRS. Each and every piece of property in the US is designated for tax status.

    Regarding McVay’s non-Christian status: Give me a break. The Might White Supremacist movement is totally christian. Or at least, they use Christianity as an organizing and motivating theme at will in the same way Islam is used as an organizing and motivating theme in the current spate of Al Qaida brand terrorism.

  10. #10 Greg Laden
    August 27, 2010

    DuWayne, I see your point about the terrorist winning. of course, getting a real estate deal to close in NYC is roughly equivalent to utterly changing our system of policing (which we did) air port security (which we did) and attitude about the constitution (which we did). Face it, they totally won. Al Qaida owns us. Or at least, Pwned us.

  11. #11 chris
    August 27, 2010

    There is no legitimate reason to say that Muslims can’t build a religious structure in that area. And unless you are prepared to say that no religious structures should be built by anyone, anywhere in the US, it really doesn’t hold to say that none can be built at GZ but everywhere else is OK.

    What is the border of Ground Zero? Is it West St, Vesey, Church, and Liberty? If so, Cordoba House is a go. But that range doesn’t include WTC7, across West between Vesey and Murray. So we’ll expand our range to include that area as well. But then do we have to make it square and go all the way to North End Ave and the marina? To include Park Place, where Cordoba House would be built, we have to go north two blocks to Park. But 45-51 is on the far side of Park, so do we extend all the way to Murray? And then to make square again do we go as far as Broadway to the east and Rector to the south? If so, we’ll have to tear down Trinity Church, Battery Park Synagogue, St. Peter’s on Barclay and St. Paul Chapel a block away on Broadway. And probably the St. John’s University building on Murray, just to be safe.

    Are all of those locations grandfathered? Or does the border only get stretched in one direction?

    Sorry, you’re wrong on this one. And al Qaida::McVeigh is not a good analogy.

  12. #12 jonathan buhler
    August 27, 2010

    Couldn’t resist taking a dig at the Thugee, could you? They, at least, built their temple in a remote locale where nobody could take offense. Or chip away at that golden dome (who wouldn’t want a pub the size of the Crystal Palace?).
    Can the string in a tea-bag be used as a strangling cord?

  13. #13 bcoppola
    August 27, 2010

    First Amendment, freedom of religion, freedom of assembly, property rights. Whether one is atheist, christian, islamic, hindu, or pastafarian, that should be he beginning and end of the discussion in the US. The Bill of Rights and the rule of law, no matter how traduced they have been by opportunists and demagogues of every political stripe, trump everything else including one’s feelings about islam or religion in general.

    Sometimes, things really are that simple.

  14. #14 Virgil Samms
    August 27, 2010

    The Center for Inquiry Urges That Ground Zero Be Kept Religion-Free

    Kept? An Orthodox Christian church was destroyed in the 9/11 attacks, and is currently planned for rebuilding. Should I assume CFI will also oppose the rebuilding of St. Nicholas’ Church?

    “CFI fully supports the free exercise of religion”
    No they do not. They are calling for religious intent to be taken into consideration in decisions on what may and may not be built. That directly contravenes the freedom of religion spelled out in the second amendment.

  15. #15 Colugo
    August 27, 2010

    The CFI is taking a stance much more like the French laicite than American secularism. Western Europe is generally tougher on zoning and building permits for houses of worship of faiths not specifically sanctioned by the state. France’s laicite is official, even aggressive, secularism quite distinct from America’s mere separation of church and state. It’s hardly surprising that it is Western Europe, not the US, that since 9/11 has entertained or even enacted things like hijab and minaret bans. Of course, in Europe the laicite and other manifestations of strident secularism tend to take an anti-Muslim form and merge with other longstanding (but barely submerged) European traditions, nativism and ethnonationalism.

  16. #16 Greg Laden
    August 27, 2010

    bcoppola: You would be correct (and Sailor above as well) except for one small thing: Until they tax the churches, they do not have the same property rights as private citizens do. Also, have you ever tried to open a resturant that serves alchohol, open a business with a parking lot that will have a lot of cars going in and out, or, for that matter, make your garage bigger? Permits, neighborhood approval, all sorts of things are generally needed. Churches and church like things more often than not get whatever they want just by insisting on it. Nobody else does.

    No, the first ammendment does not obviate a zoning board, use board, or neighborhood association vetoing a community center. T

    Chris: I had responded to you earlier, but the coffee shop ate my post. Briefly: The McVeigh/al Qaida analogy is perfectly fine. I see no reason to separate them. Is this some form of standing up for McVeigh?

    There is no legitimate reason to say that Muslims can’t build a religious structure in that area. And unless you are prepared to say that no religious structures should be built by anyone, anywhere in the US, it really doesn’t hold to say that none can be built at GZ but everywhere else is OK.

    Yes, that is my position.

  17. #17 Virgil Samms
    August 27, 2010

    Oops, I meant the first amendment.

  18. #18 Greg Laden
    August 27, 2010

    No they do not. They are calling for religious intent to be taken into consideration in decisions on what may and may not be built. That directly contravenes the freedom of religion spelled out in the second amendment.

    Not exactly, (numbering of amendments not withstanding). It being an issue of there bieng a religious connection is not the same thing as it being an issue of religious protection or repression.

    It all depends on how good the lawyers are. There are a lot of reasons a community can say they don’t want a particular church or mosque or whatever, or community center, that relate to the fact that the thing is what it is (no tax, semi-public, requires parking, uses sidewalkspace, etc. etc. because it is a house of worship or a community gathering area) that are not repressing the religion.

  19. #19 chris
    August 27, 2010

    The McVeigh/al Qaida analogy is perfectly fine. I see no reason to separate them. Is this some form of standing up for McVeigh?

    No, not standing up for McVeigh, I just don’t think it’s a 1 to 1 comparison. I could be wrong, though.

    Yes, that is my position.

    Are you saying that it’s your position that no religious structures should be built at GZ, but everywhere else is OK? Or that no religious structures should be built anywhere, full stop?

  20. #20 Colugo
    August 27, 2010

    “The Might White Supremacist movement is totally christian. Or at least, they use Christianity as an organizing and motivating theme at will…”

    That’s simply inaccurate. Church of The Creator, White Aryan Resistance, National Vanguard – some of the most notorious neo-Nazi groups – are not Christian at all and explictly opposed to all what they call Jewish/Semitic religions (Jduaism, Christianity, Islam…). Some modern Nazis identify as Christian, in the Christian Identity/British Israelism tradition, but many others are Odinists, Satanists, atheists (typically espousing a crude Social Darwinism), or some esoteric tradition (e.g. Theosophy).

    “no religious structures should be built by anyone, anywhere in the US” … “Yes, that is my position.”

    That’s not remotely feasible without a constitutional amendment. Which means it’s effectively impossible.

  21. #21 Virgil Samms
    August 27, 2010

    What about St. Peter’s Roman Catholic Church? And ST. Paul Chapel? What about The River Church? Battery Park Synagogue? St. Joseph’s Church? Ephesus, Inc.? Those are all pretty close to Ground Zero.

  22. #22 chris
    August 27, 2010

    @Colugo and @Virgil Samms

    That’s why I’d like Greg to clarify his position. If no religious structures anywhere in the US, then we have to change the 1st Amendment to modify the free expression clause. If no religious structures at GZ, then where, exactly does GZ end and NYC start? And would existing structures be grandfathered?

    So many questions!!

  23. #23 Greg Laden
    August 27, 2010

    Chris [2]: No, they are not a one to one comparison, and analogies never are. In fact, it is against the roolz to negate an analogy because one or more points to not match. So you are not wrong that this is not a 1:1 comparison, but it is still a useful and valid analogy.

    As long as they are not taxed as businesses, this is my position: “no religious structures should be built anywhere, full stop?”

    I’m not sure if I would still want them to be built if they were taxed, but I recognize and acknowledge the fact that my wants and how society works are not exactly the same thing. (and unlike the teabaggers, realizing that fact does not make my go straight for the second ammendment!)

  24. #24 Greg Laden
    August 27, 2010

    Colugo: I know. Christians would like to pretend that they have nothing to do with western late 19rh century, 20th and 21st century racism including WS groups, but that just ain’t the case. Christian values and rekoning has been used to support racist ideals, churches have raised money to fight for racist causes, Jim Crow laws have been passed in the name of god, and on and on and on. It is very very accurate to say that modern western racism has a lot to do with modern western mainstream religion, which happens to be christian.

    “no religious structures should be built by anyone, anywhere in the US” … “Yes, that is my position.”

    That’s not remotely feasible without a constitutional amendment. Which means it’s effectively impossible.

    Are you telling me, then, that I can’t want this? See my comment above. I’m one of those highly intelligent mature apes that gets that society and personal wants are not always the same thing. Unlikes, say, Osama bin Laden, Tim McVeigh, and the teabaggers.

  25. #25 chris
    August 27, 2010

    Since posting here initially I have read your comment at DuWayne’s site, and I would support the idea of a world free of religious structures of any kind. But isn’t there a difference between yearning for such a utopia and saying this structure, here and now, under the existing code, shouldn’t be built?

    Or am I misreading and you are saying they should be allowed to but if you could get your way (which I would support), it wouldn’t even be an issue because there’d be no religion?

    Imagine that.

  26. #26 Greg Laden
    August 27, 2010

    What about St. Peter’s Roman Catholic Church? And ST. Paul Chapel? What about The River Church? Battery Park Synagogue? St. Joseph’s Church? Ephesus, Inc.? Those are all pretty close to Ground Zero.

    Virgil: They would make excellent parking structures. Pretty on the outside, useful on the inside. Each and every one would make a very challenging engineering project.

  27. #27 Greg Laden
    August 27, 2010

    So many questions!!

    I can’t imagine being more clear than I’ve been.

  28. #28 Pinky
    August 27, 2010

    @ Colugo #20
    I should have known we could not discuss this ground zero thing without someone bringing up the tired old “not true Christians™” artifice.

    Do you have sources you can name that indicate your thesis? I guess I should have said “credible sources”; don’t quote dung from WorldNetDaily or Sarah.

    I especially like how you slandered Odinists, Satanists and Atheists by linking them with Neo-Nazis.

  29. #29 Colugo
    August 27, 2010

    “It is very very accurate to say that modern western racism has a lot to do with modern western mainstream religion, which happens to be christian.”

    No disagreement on that point when stated that way.

    On churches and the like: Since you can’t beat ‘em, how about another approach? Join ‘em. Secular humanist chaplains and chapels.

  30. #30 Greg Laden
    August 27, 2010

    Pinky, are you talking to me? Because you are not making one iota of sense.

  31. #31 Colugo
    August 27, 2010

    “Do you have sources you can name that indicate your thesis? I guess I should have said “credible sources”; don’t quote dung from WorldNetDaily or Sarah.”

    Pinky, the funny thing about condescension is that it’s only effective when the one doing the condescending has more of a clue than the one being condescended to. Which is unfortunately not the case here.

    While my academic background is in biological anthropology, among my longtime side interests are been the history and sociology of extremist movements, including racist movements. Let me suggest Blood In The Face by James Ridgeway and The Beast Reawakens by Martin A. Lee to help you get started. Sure, maybe I get a bit pendantic at times, but that’s not the same as relying on “WorldNetDaily or Sarah.”

  32. #32 Colugo
    August 27, 2010

    I mean pedantic, of course! Gah.

  33. #33 Pinky
    August 27, 2010

    I was replying to Colugo #20. I see his comment as using the ‘not true Christian” line.

    Does that help, or am I still writing nonsense? (I’m asking seriously, I try to communicate clearly.)

  34. #34 Colugo
    August 27, 2010

    Pinky, I agree that if someone claims to be something then that’s what they are. Christian Identity Nazis are Christians, and so are Quakers, and so is Mitt Romney. Keith Ellision, Osama bin Laden, and Louis Farrakhan are all Muslims, regardless of whatever definitional and doctrinal differences they have. Ayn Rand and Bertrand Russell are both atheists. There is no difference between “nominal” and “true” when it comes to self-identification.

  35. #35 Greg Laden
    August 27, 2010

    Pinky that could make a lot more sense now that I know what you were responding to!

  36. #36 Pinky
    August 27, 2010

    “Pinky, the funny thing about condescension is that it’s only effective when the one doing the condescending has more of a clue than the one being condescended to. Which is unfortunately not the case here.”

    You may be correct Colugo. I am not adding to the discussion today, so I will retire.

  37. #37 Craig Pennington
    August 27, 2010

    I see the point CFI is trying to make. I doubt the Park51 opponents do. My objection to the argument is the same as my objection to the libertarian “the state shouldn’t be in the marriage business” argument we hear when the subject of same sex marriage comes up — it distracts from others who are pointing out a very real injustice in order to make an abstract ideological point that will be ignored by those that most need to recognize that point. It thus helps the demagogues and bigots. So, I’m with DuWayne.

  38. #38 DuWayne
    August 27, 2010

    Greg –

    Sorry, but the Mcveigh comparison fails entirely. First of all, his motivations were purely political. While the fanaticism is much like that of religious terrorists (I am writing a paper on just that), his motivation was that he fervently believed that the U.S. government was tyrannical. He and Nichols were enraged about the Ruby Ridge incident and became moreso when the Branch Davidian compound burned. The latter was the catalyst that started the conspiracy that ended on OK city.

    To make the comparison even less apt, Mcveigh wasn’t even a theist. He identified as an agnostic who believed there was some sort of higher power. Ultimately his new age sort of spiritualism.

    His terrorist act was based entirely on his being into the whole survivalist/Patriot movement. The assertion that because he was white, religion was somehow behind his terrorist act is patently absurd. It would be just as absurd if he had been a Christian or whatever, the fact that he wasn’t even a theist just throws that point into sharp contrast.

  39. #39 bcoppola
    August 27, 2010

    Greg: AFAIK and according to media reports, the relevant NYC gov’t bodies have all approved the Park51 project. The latest was a challenge by opponents based historic preservation grounds. It was rejected.

    Granted, the law (and, admittedly, the uneven application of the law) gives religious institutions unfair advantages as you correctly point out – but it’s still the law. That doesn’t justify ad-hoc prohibitions on a religious group using their property and exercising their rights.

    Darn that pesky rule of law! Unless you change the law, or can successfully challenge preferential treatment in court, tough noogies.

    (FWIW and IMO, come the godless revolution I’d rather that existing houses of worship of architectural merit be re-purposed as galleries, performing arts spaces, condos – just about anything but parking structures. Leave that use to the second-rate ones.) :)

  40. #40 Gray Gaffer
    August 27, 2010

    “I don’t want a mosque or a temple or a church or community center linked to a religion built in the vicinity of the destroyed World Trade Center on account of the attack”

    Um, they aren’t building there because that is where the attack took place. They just need more room for their existing activities. It’s the teabaggers that are making that link of intent. You said it wasn’t satire, so does that mean you are siding with the teabaggers?

    Note: “existing”. You want that existing facility closed too? Why? What about the strip joints that directly overlook the 9/11 site? The other religious places?

    The First is the First. They have satisfied all secular governmental requirements and have their permit. Leave it be.

  41. #41 DuWayne
    August 27, 2010

    Pinky –

    I especially like how you slandered Odinists, Satanists and Atheists by linking them with Neo-Nazis.

    That is not what he was doing at all. He was stating a fact – that indeed many white supremacists fit into one of those groups. That is not a slander on any of those groups, any more than recognizing that many people who have bad hygiene are Odinists, Satanists and atheists. That doesn’t mean that somehow all people who fit those labels smell bad – it is however absolutely true.

    As for evidence for that assertion, google “neo-nazi.” Do not go to sites that are being critical of, rather go to the hate sites themselves. You might want to use a proxy server – though that is only really relevant if you spend a lot of time going to extremist web sites (something that I actually have been doing a lot lately, for a paper). While there are Christians involved with some of the “milder, family oriented” white supremacist hate groups, the hard core tend towards a host of bizarre beliefs that are centered around Nordic mythology. There are also some neo-Satanists, but they are actually mostly atheists/agnostics who like to fuck with the (Christian) establishment.

    Though it is important to recognize that as fucked up as the Patriot/survivalist movement can be, for the most part they are not any more racist than you or me. There is definite crossover, but not nearly as much as you might think.

  42. #42 DuWayne
    August 27, 2010

    Face it, they totally won. Al Qaida owns us. Or at least, Pwned us.

    You don’t need to tell me Greg, I just spent much of the semester focused on al Qaeda (and other terrorist groups). Our reaction to the 9/11 attacks went way beyond the highest hopes and expectations of Bin Laden and al Qaeda. We have changed so dramatically for the worse, while fostering a fertile environment for the creation of shiny new terrorists.

    That doesn’t mean we have to contribute to it. That doesn’t mean we have to accept it. Why would you want to play their game and the game of the teabaggers? By all means, lets argue against new churches, lets argue against their tax status – I am all fucking about fighting theism.

    But lets not lend the terrorists more credence while doing so.

  43. #43 dcotler
    August 27, 2010

    From the CFI statement:
    “but what better way to make a statement to the world that we’re still behind the ideas that made us great in the first place than to erect a CFI building there?”

    As a “card-carrying” Friend of the Center, I think a better way to make that statement, and protect our own ability to publicly support our point of view with little fear of reprisal by the opponents that outnumber us, would be to support the propriety of any legal use of lower Manhattan real estate. I too would like to see fewer places devoted to religion or any other superstition (and I would love a grand CFI-New York), but not at the cost of betraying our secularism by discriminating on the basis of religion.

  44. #44 DuWayne
    August 27, 2010

    Shit, I missed this:

    The Might White Supremacist movement is totally christian.

    First, no they aren’t. Second, what exactly does that have to do with Mcveigh? He was a survivalist, Patriot nutjob of the highest and most dangerous order. He was complete and utter scum. I have seen no evidence whatever though, that he was a white supremacist.

    I’m sorry Greg, but you are way the hell off base on this whole line. There are a hell of a lot of great examples of Christian terrorist nuts. Mcveigh just isn’t one of them and neither are a whole lot of actual white power rangers. The more violent core of white power rangers tend to eschew Christianity for religious inclinations that dogmatify violence.

  45. #45 Trencherbone
    August 27, 2010

    There’ll be no virgins waiting for Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf and his fellow mosqueteers when they depart this world and go down to meet Allah and Mohammed.

    They’ve really screwed things up for the Religion of Peace™. Even if they build their Victory Mosque, it’ll be a Pyrrhic Victory. All they’ve done is woken the proverbial American Sleeping Giant to the true nature of Islam.

  46. #46 occamseraser
    August 27, 2010

    If religions could be taxed (real estate, income, etc.), how much cash could the US (or any) gov’t stand to take in?

  47. #47 Tony Sidaway
    August 27, 2010

    “tony: Satire? At least I hope so.”

    “No, it is not.”

    Okay. I guess that’s it from me.

    I do not have words to express my contempt.

    Goodbye.

  48. #48 Sam N
    August 27, 2010

    I think it’s a bad idea to weigh in specifically against this mosque rather than writing a much more general post simply promoting that religious structures should not be exempt from tax, ignoring this mosque in particular.

    Using the mosque close to ground zero as a lead-in to express your argument does provide greater readership due to specific interest in this issue. However, it also ends up lumping your opinion in with a population of bigoted, and specifically anti-muslim, Christians. In this case I say more harm done than good.

  49. #49 sailor
    August 27, 2010

    “You would be correct (and Sailor above as well) except for one small thing: Until they tax the churches, they do not have the same property rights as private citizens do.”
    “If religions could be taxed (real estate, income, etc.), how much cash could the US (or any) gov’t stand to take in?”

    Personally, I think all religions are businesses (dishonest ones at that) and should be taxed; granted this is unlikely. However, they should at LEAST be made to submit the same reports, accounts and other paperwork as non-profits. I understand they get exception from all this. In terms of permitting they should be treated jut like any other business or non-profit.

  50. #50 proportion wheel
    August 27, 2010

    I seldom comment on blogs and I can’t say anything more articulate than many above have, but having read you steadily for a long time, Greg, I must say that I am deeply shocked and disappointed that you take this position.

  51. #51 mattb
    August 27, 2010

    A little about McVeigh

    Either religion wasn’t a motive or it was a very weak one.

    motives
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timothy_McVeigh#Motivations_for_the_bombing
    - revenge for Waco
    - The Turner Diaries (white supremacist novel)
    - became anti-gov’t as a soldier during Gulf War

    religion
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timothy_McVeigh#Political_and_religious_views
    - raised Catholic but didn’t practice
    - once claimed to be agnostic
    - believed in a “higher power ”
    - once said, “Science is my religion” (whatever that means)

  52. #52 Greg Laden
    August 27, 2010

    occamseraser: Today I spent a bit of time in a church. It had a conference center as part of the complex. A non-religious specialist medical conference was going on there, and they weren’t getting to use the conference center for free. A few years ago I was involved in a conference. The main organizers got to arranging a place (out in the rural areas of the state) to hold it. They ended up using a church conference center. A colleague of mine, the same year, went with a group of people camping up north. For a couple of the days they stayed in what was essentially a resort available for anyone to use. It was run by a religious organization. A few years before that, in my neighborhood, a church built a 40 unit supportive housing facility, and I was involved in the neighborhood review process for it. The church was using 100% federal grant money, acting as a contractor, would own the facility and make $500,000 dollars on the project over one year of development, regardless of what else happened. After that, it it was profitable, they’d continue to profit, but the 500 bucks was guaranteed even if the project could not be finished.

    Taxes paid on these transactions? Zero. If you want to run a business that will be extra competitive because you get this sort of break, become a church first.

  53. #53 Greg Laden
    August 27, 2010

    DuWayne, take it down a notch. As I clarified in a later comment, I was speaking in very general terms. In such general terms, I have a very hard time being able to, or wanting to separate caucaso-normative-western-christian thinking into it’s components, because they are in fact very intertwined. And no, I’m not even vaguely interested in letting the right wing yahooistic libertarians off by granting that McVeigh was not one of them gone just a little to far.

  54. #54 WP
    August 27, 2010

    Hmmm,so it is OK to violate the 1st Amendment rights of one religion as long as you violate the rights of all. But lets not limit it to belief systems based on supernatural. Lets remember that many political belief systems have had adherents that have committed atrocities, so lets violate theirs as well.

  55. #55 Greg Laden
    August 27, 2010

    I seldom comment on blogs and I can’t say anything more articulate than many above have, but having read you steadily for a long time, Greg, I must say that I am deeply shocked and disappointed that you take this position.

    Well, maybe we don’t have to always agree.

    I’m a little shocked when people don’t agree with me as well, so I should not be surprised that someone else would have the same feeling!

    There is a pretty good chance, though, that you are reading my position through the comments rather than what I’m really saying, as is often the case, and that is partly my fault, because the main point of my post was to point people to DuWayne’s excellent blog rather than to lay out my own opinion in detail.

    So I’ll lay it out again, in more detail. My position in order of how strongly I feel about it:

    1) I really don’t give a flying fuck what they do.

    2) I will always give serious thought to giving a thumbs down to the use of precious urban space or other rare resources for religious facilities because I think it is a) a waste of space and b) so many such ventures these days really are commercial enterprises (see comments above) and the churches, etc. are ripping us all off. I don’t know if that would apply in this case or not.

    3) And this is key: I see it as a perfectly reasonable thing for the CFI to come out with this statement. It is consistent with what they seem to generally think and do. I’m a little surprised that people are surprised at what they’ve said. I’m glad someone is saying what they are saying.

    4) I recognize that the way our system works supports the idea of building a place of worship as such, and not interfering with such things for biased reasons. My personal feeling is contrary the way our system works. I also oppose the death penalty and the filibuster in the Senate, I prefer a well structured but sparse national educational standard and think most school boards should be abolished and all sort of other things. I’m not sure why some folks seem to think I have to hold beliefs that are in accord with the status quo.

    5) Having said that, I feel icky suggesting a position anything close to what the gagging teabaggers seem to be shouting. I do not hold their opinion. I hold a very, very different opinion that only vaguely resembles theirs on the surface, which is rather unfortunate, but that happens some time.

    Indeed, my disdain for the teabaggers is far greater than my disdain for this ‘community center’ and if I was on some board deciding what to do, I’d probably vote for rather than against the community center. If that makes anyone’s head hurt, I simply remind you: Welcome to Earth. It’s complex here.

    Also, I’ll add this: I’m uncomfortable with this “community center” vs. “mosque” distinction . I don’t personally know the details. What I do know is that some of the mosques of which I’m aware are community centers. I’m not sure of the real meaning of the distinction. Also, I doubt the distinction or lack thereof matters to this argument.

  56. #56 Greg Laden
    August 28, 2010

    Hmmm,so it is OK to violate the 1st Amendment rights of one religion as long as you violate the rights of all.

    I would say … no, it isn’t.

    I also think that everyone has a right to own a handgun. But my strong preference is that no one have the right to keep a handgun in their home.

    If you crack open my head and look at my brain, it is fact NOT a copy of any particular document, running the show. I have thoughts and preferences independent of the people who wrote the US constitution. I wish the 1st amendment was written somewhat differently, to not allow the wanton privilege given to religion in our society. At the same time, I basically respect, and even like the fact that we live in a constitutional system and so I think when push comes to shove, we need to go along with the constitution.

  57. #57 Greg Laden
    August 28, 2010

    Tony, IIRC this is like the third time you left in a snit. Is there some rule that I have to have the same perspective or ideas you have on every issue for you to stick around? That certainly is not my rule!

  58. #58 Greg Laden
    August 28, 2010

    Sailor, probably yes, but in fact, a church can’t just do whatever they want, so they often need to set up foundations, which are non-profits that do the business for them. I describe above the supportive housing facility: Actually the church itself could not have gotten those grants, but the foundation run by the church (same board members, same name but with “foundation” instead of “church” tagged on, main contribution of the foundation is to the church, etc. etc.) is eligable. But, as such, they do have to play it cleaner.

    Nonetheless, they plainly use their church connection to get the usual chuchy privilege. In that case, we actually brought this case to federal district church (our lawyer was a one time state AG and everything) and lost. The facility was in violation of a constitutional protection, and stopping the facility from being built was in violation of a different constitutional protection (and ironically closely related) so it could have been decided either way. But we lost.

  59. #59 Greg Laden
    August 28, 2010

    In reading many of the comments on this post, I wonder if there is a misconception shaping some opinions that should be exposed. I’d like to try to do that with a hypothetical scenario.

    I live in a residential neighborhood. There is a commercial block one block north of me, but to the west it is residential all the way to the Target which is farther than walking distance, to the east, residential all the way to the city hall/police station, which is a few blocks away, and to the south residential for about a half mile then heavy commercial.

    Suppose a church buys the six or eight residential lots that are across the street from my house: The two end-of block properties, and then the paired lots to the north so they end a big chunk of the end of the block. They plan to build a new church and the usual associated facilities (parking lot, etc.)

    Question: If I actively oppose them, and perhaps organize my neighbors and oppose them as a group, am I disrespecting their First Amendment rights? Yes or no.

    Question: If the city simply tells them no, we had a meeting and decided you can’t do that, is the city violating their first amendment rights? Yes or no..

    Question: If the businesses up the street, through their business association, oppose this project, are they violating their First Amendment rights? Yes or no.

    If you picked yes to one or more of these questions, you may have misunderstood the First Amendment. Having a constitutional protection against impeding religion does not mean that a religious organization can enter into a zoned residential neighborhood and build a church, even if they own the land. I’m not sure about places like the wild rural west, but generally speaking, cities have a process and you can’t presume that you have permission to build a MacDonalds, a Church, a Mosque, a Community Center, or in some cases a Dog House. The default is that you DO NOT have permission by the authorities in charge, and that you must get that permission, and there are a LOT of reasons to have that permission denied, including (and commonly) the simple premise that “no, we had plans for this neighborhood, and a church/fast food restaurant/doghouse/whatever was not in those plans. This space is taxable light industry. That space is taxable residential. That space is parks. We’re building a school over in that space. Permission denied.”

  60. #60 Orac
    August 28, 2010

    So much burning stupid in the CFI press release. I think I’ll be letting my membership lapse. CFI has jumped the shark.

  61. #61 DuWayne
    August 28, 2010

    I have a very hard time being able to, or wanting to separate caucaso-normative-western-christian thinking into it’s components, because they are in fact very intertwined.

    Greg, I have friends who knew Mcyeigh and Nichols. Mcveigh was rather outspoken in his objections to organized religion. He believed in some insane shit, much of which was even too much for my friends who are conspiracy nuts. Most importantly, he firmly and absolutely believed that the shootout at Ruby Ridge and the burning of the Branch Davidian compound were the intended outcomes by the U.S. government. And unlike a lot of conspiracy nut Patriots, he didn’t really care about some twisted up interpretation of the constitution. He was basically an anarchist, loonier than even the looniest of Libertarians.

    I’m sorry, but there is plenty of entirely legitimate and horrifying shit that can be pinned on Christianity and theism in general. There are even plenty of legitimate terrorist acts perpetrated on U.S. soil that can be blamed on religion. Why would we try to stretch definitions to breaking, to claim that an agnostic anti-government lunatic who was outspoken about religion and critical of racist movements, committed a terrorist act in teh name of white supremacist Christianity?

    I would also note that this doesn’t let any extremist Libertarians off the hook. I know a lot of libertarians and Libertarians, I have yet to meet one who isn’t an atheist or at least identifying as agnostic. I know they exist and for all I know, there may be many more religious ones. But there is no question that he was an extremists extremist Libertarian.

  62. #62 Greg Laden
    August 28, 2010

    Well, since you practically knew him, I guess I’ll take your word for it.

  63. #63 Orac
    August 28, 2010

    The Might White Supremacist movement is totally christian.

    You clearly know nothing about the white supremacist movement if you believe that.

    Through my interest in Holocaust denial, I’ve been following the white supremacist movement for at least a decade. There is a huge faction among “white racialists” or “white separatists” (which is what white supremacists like to call themselves) that despises Christianity because its members view Christianity as coming from the Jews and as a “religion of the weak” that keeps the “white race” from realizing its “true glory.” The more conspiracy-minded of them view Christianity as a Jewish plot hatched to keep the white race down and the Jews in power.

    As mentioned above by another commenter, one example is the Creativity Movement, formerly called the World Church of the Creator, which is an explicitly non-Christian religion believing that the white race is its religion and that their beliefs are based on the “eternal laws of nature.”

    Other strains of the white supremacist movement are heavily influenced by paganism and even Odinism and the worship of Norse gods. Seriously.

    Finally, there is even a strain of white supremacism that is either atheist. The atheist version of white supremacists tend to view religion with contempt, again as a tool of “keeping the white race down.”

    And, yes, there is large Christian strain of white supremacism–maybe even dominant, although that’s debatable. Regardless, it’s completely incorrect to say that the white supremacist movement is “totally Christian.” It’s not even close to “totally Christian.”

  64. #64 Greg Laden
    August 28, 2010

    Yes, I certainly am learning a lot about the non-Christian parts of the white supremacist movement.

    I truly regret the use of the word “totally” in that sentence.

  65. #65 Luke Ford
    August 28, 2010

    Ground zero should be striped of ALL RELIGIONS. they should build a monument to remind everyone what religions have done to this world.
    http://www.wellnessstarts.com/paraslim-force-review.html

  66. #66 Brian
    August 28, 2010

    “Are you telling me, then, that I can’t want this? See my comment above. I’m one of those highly intelligent mature apes that gets that society and personal wants are not always the same thing. Unlikes, say, Osama bin Laden, Tim McVeigh, and the teabaggers.”

    This, Greg Laden. This is why I regret it whenever I accidentally make my way over here. I hate that I agree with you on so many things, because you are such an intensely unlikeable person. The smirking self-importance is probably chief on the list.

  67. #67 Marion Delgado
    August 28, 2010

    Ultimately, the religion that “did this” is “anti-communism.”

  68. #68 DuWayne
    August 28, 2010

    Well, since you practically knew him, I guess I’ll take your word for it.

    There’s no reason that you need to take my word for it Greg, as there are plenty of sources that verify exactly what I said. The Guardian is a rather good place to start, with links to their coverage and bio of Mcveigh. I would also suggest American Terrorist, Michel and Herbeck’s biography. It isn’t like my assertions are some kind of super-secret bio, there are several other biographies about Mcveigh.

  69. #69 sailor
    August 28, 2010

    “Question: If I actively oppose them, and perhaps organize my neighbors and oppose them as a group, am I disrespecting their First Amendment rights? Yes or no.”

    No obviously churches have to abide by local zoning laws, etc. But that is not the situation here. Were it a YMCA and not Muslim center, there would be no objection. This is being objected to on the basis of its religion.

    Your argument may be different. But by jumping into a swimming pool of ignorant yahoos all going in the same direction you are likely to be lumped in with them, as you have seen here.

  70. #70 Greg Laden
    August 28, 2010

    Were it a YMCA and not Muslim center, there would be no objection. This is being objected to on the basis of its religion.

    Absolutely incorrect. I am not objecting to to the mosque because of the islamic connection. Also, the CFI is not objecting to the mosque because of its islamic connection.

    Correct. The Teabaggers are objecting to the mosque because of the islamic connection.

    Is it really true that on blogs we can’t get past the first dimension of parsing conversations, even among seemingly smart people?

  71. #71 Greg Laden
    August 28, 2010

    Brian [66] … don’t worry, I was including you as one of the smart apes, I assure you. Don’t feel bad.

    Funny. Most people who like me tell me I’m not that unlikeable.

  72. #72 Tommykey
    August 28, 2010

    Apologies in advance if I repeat what others may have already written above, as I scrolled down to the bottom after reading the first few comments.

    Unlike a lot of people who have commented on this topic, I have actually visited the site in person. If you click on my name, it will link you to my blog where the most recent post is on this subject.

    A lot of the people who complain about the proposed community center (of which only a portion will be a mosque) as being too close to “Ground Zero” don’t seem to realize that there has been a mosque operating on Warren Street a mere 4 blocks away. Due to lack of space, some of the worshippers would spill out onto the sidewalk during prayer services. All this has been going on in the years since 9/11, again a mere 4 blocks away, and nobody raised the cry “Oh FSM, there’s Mooozlems near Ground Zero!” But a community center with a mosque in it two blocks away becomes a national crisis? Gimme a friggin’ break!

    Another thing that should be noted is that Ground Zero will not be visible from the proposed Cordoba House, so it’s not like those evil Moozlems will be looking down on Ground Zero from the top of a minaret and giggling with glee on the destruction wrought by their fellow brethren as some people seem to think. There is also a bar called the Dakota Roadhouse that will be right next to Cordoba House.

    Lastly, the people protesting this proposed community center are inflicting incalculable damage to our country’s image abroad. What will moderate Muslims get out of this? That they are no different in our eyes than the Taliban and Osama bin Laden and that our cherished principles of equality and religious liberties do not apply to Muslim-Americans.

  73. #73 Tacroy
    August 28, 2010

    Greg: given the current laws of the United States of America, would you agree that it is legal to build the Islamic community center there?

    After all, they have all the proper permits and permissions, unlike the church in your example – the city (which, in the end, is the entity that gets to decide whether or not the church is built) has already decided that yes, the church can be built.

    I mean, that’s really where it ends. They asked for permission, the city gave it to them, it doesn’t look like anything underhanded happened in between, so that’s that. If you want to tear down all religious buildings in the area or just prevent the building of new ones, you will have to change the law.

  74. #74 Greg Laden
    August 28, 2010

    there has been a mosque operating on Warren Street a mere 4 blocks away. Due to lack of space, some of the worshippers would spill out onto the sidewalk during prayer services.

    THAT is a good reason to build a community center with a mosque in it. THAT is the kind of on the ground, relevant, real life factor that I would expect would be key in consideration of an issue like this one among the relevant stakeholders. I’d probably be in favor of a solution like this given this fact, but I’d want to know more details and hear the alternatives first, of course.

    Lastly, the people protesting this proposed community center are inflicting incalculable damage to our country’s image abroad.

    The teabaggers … yes, that’s bad.

  75. #75 Greg Laden
    August 28, 2010

    Greg: given the current laws of the United States of America, would you agree that it is legal to build the Islamic community center there?

    I probably would be, but I don’t know the zoning laws for the specific location.

    I have addressed that conflict numerous times in the comments above.

    If you want to tear down all religious buildings in the area or just prevent the building of new ones, you will have to change the law.

    Ya think?

    But seriously, what I’d really like to do is to look at each religious tax exempt piece of property and carefully inspect what kind of business is going on there and yes, there is probably a lot of stuff that should not be happening under existing law, unless (and this is quite possible) NYC is better at dealing with religious privilege as a secular entity than, say Minneapolis or Saint Paul.

  76. #76 sailor
    August 28, 2010

    “Were it a YMCA and not Muslim center, there would be no objection. This is being objected to on the basis of its religion.

    Absolutely incorrect. I am not objecting to to the mosque because of the islamic connection. Also, the CFI is not objecting to the mosque because of its islamic connection.”

    Greg, I did not say YOU. Let me just put it this way. As there is a strong, active, mainly ignorant anti-Muslim movement condemning this center, this may not be the best time to come out against this particular mosque at this particular time, because all reason will be swept into the fray.

  77. #77 Greg Laden
    August 28, 2010

    Sailor, you are correct, of course. But timing isn’t always good.

    I’ll say again: 1) I don’t care to much if they built it or not (see above) and 2) It appears that a more or less normal process has been followed and there are reasons to build it, so that’s it (see above).

    But, when this stuff happens in real life religious organizations often use undue privilege (I’ve documented this above and in a comment on DuWayne’s blog). If you went form church to church and mosque to mosque and religious center to religious center and deleted every single one where, say, 25% of their income or more comes form standard commercial activity (from making jam to running a conference center to processing Federal grants for supportive housing facilities) either directly or through a front foundation, there would not be a lot of those places left.

    If anything, mosques may seem to be less involved in this sort of business when they mainly serve recent immigrant groups (like our local y-mosque) but I know of at least on business here in the twin cities that is a religious organization, mainly islamic, has no mosque or place off worship, makes its profit mainly from state medical related funding, and is conceived and run by a very wealthy Israeli who is primarily a business person. Good way to get a tax break. In this case, I imagine the mosque that is a rec center will make a good bit from their gym, and compete nicely with the local commercial gyms that pay property taxes and other taxes the mosque will not pay.

    In the some of the comments above and among Orac’s sycophants we see it again and again: Saying that one might question the building of a religious facility is a violation of the first amendment. Well, no it isn’t. It is perfectly reasonable to be suspicious and cynical about such efforts, to ask questions, and for the default answer for a new church or mosque, just like for a new liquor store or movie theater, to be “no” followed by “prove why the community should support this instead of something else” and “prove that you’ve crossed all your t’s and dotted all your i’s.”

    It seems that in this case, this has indeed happened, but one would not know it from the uncritical, roll over and get mounted by the privilege of region conversation, which seems to assume it does not matter if the usual process has been followed or not.

    The teabagger thing is annoying, but once again, any similarity between the position I’ve just stated and theirs is absurd, thinking of them as the same is really, really incorrect. And I’m trying to be nice here.

  78. #78 Paul Havlak
    August 29, 2010

    Greg, I hope you come to your senses! Piling on against the Muslims, painting all of them with such a broad brush, is siding with Palin & her Teabagger goons against fellow American citizens with rights. If we can’t defend the rights of those you disagree with, we’ll all end up like Niemöller… except I don’t think they’d have finished getting rid of Muslims before they’d come after the skeptics.

    It’s rather similar to the issue of gay marriage, actually. Human rights are indivisible; once you admit someone’s right to exist, you have to put up with them in many other ways, too.

    Karma’s a bitch, like that.

  79. #79 DuWayne
    August 29, 2010

    Greg –

    The teabagger thing is annoying, but once again, any similarity between the position I’ve just stated and theirs is absurd, thinking of them as the same is really, really incorrect.

    Unless you are completely changing your position as stated in the post, agreeing with CFI, then there are striking similarities between yours and the teabaggers position. Except that while the teabaggers stop at equating all Muslims with terrorist lunatics, you’re equating all religious people with terrorist lunatics. You can obfuscate the discussion with irrelevant bullshit about taxes and whether religious buildings should get a automatic green light.

    The context of this discussion, which you explicitly stated you agree with and restated so we know that you didn’t misunderstand CFI’s position, is the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Everything else you have thrown into this discussion is completely irrelevant to the statement by CFI and yourself.

    This isn’t about the privileged position of religion. If you want to make the arguments you’re making about that privilege, I will happily and wholeheartedly agree with you. But if you want to claim that there is something sacred about a piece of land, so sacred that we can’t have religious buildings erected within some undefined range of that piece of land because all religious people are like terrorists*, then I am going to strenuously disagree with you. Yours is not a nuanced position, no matter how much you try to throw irrelevancies such as taxes and the other aspects of religious privilege into the mix.

    It is exactly like the teabaggers, only on a broader scale.

    I’m sorry, but no ground is sacred. In this case it is even more silly because the implication is that the sacredness of the ground extends some undefined distance from the particularly sacred ground. Nor is there any reason to equate religious constructions of any religion, with murdering terrorist lunatics. This is not a reasonable equation, rather it is downright offensive**.

    I appreciate you writing this post and driving some traffic over to my blog. I like you a lot and most definitely appreciate your friendship. I am sorry if I sound like an asshole – honestly, I am a lot better about that now than I used to be. But I’m sorry Greg, you are wrong on this and accusing people who disagree with you of being Orac’s sychophants doesn’t help your argument.

    * I understand that you have not explicitly stated that all religious people are like terrorists, but that is implicit in the statement made by CFI and yourself.

    ** This is exactly like equating the environmental movement with the ELF, or those who support the humane treatment of animals with the ALF.

  80. #80 DuWayne
    August 29, 2010

    Um Paul, while I disagree with Greg, I disagree with what he actually said. Greg is most certainly not “piling on” against Muslims in particular, nor is he trying to restrict their rights. I would suggest reading what Greg has to say, instead of commenting on the title of the post. In so doing, you might discover that you actually agree with him, or at least disagree with him less.

  81. #81 Greg Laden
    August 29, 2010

    Piling on against the Muslims, painting all of them with such a broad brush, is siding with Palin & her Teabagger goons against fellow American citizens with rights.

    Paul, this is fairly exemplary of the problem here in this discussion. You may have picked up on a few keywords or signals of some kind then you filled in a lot of blanks with incorrect information. I have not painted any muslims with any brushes. If you really think so, show me where I did that. I have asked everyone else to stop painting any request by a religion for more tax fee space as a constitutionally protected thing that we must bend over for the minute it is requested. I’ve asked everyone to consider that the default answer to the question “can I build X on spot Y” is almost always “no” and not “yes” unless the request fits with current land use plans and programs, and that it is incorrect to reverse the presumed “no” to a presumed “yes” just because those who ask the question believe in unicorns, or that their god can see you in the bathroom, or that some saint physically rose into the sky one day. To suggest that I have sided with Sarah Palin and the Teabaggers is well, I’m not even going to tell you what I think of that!

    If we can’t defend the rights of those you disagree with

    That is not what is happening here. What is happening here is that a lot of people are assigning more privilege to religion than it is supposed to get even in our current system. Thus, diminishing other people’s rights.

    It’s rather similar to the issue of gay marriage, actually. Human rights are indivisible; once you admit someone’s right to exist, you have to put up with them in many other ways, too.

    The only way this would be similar to gay marriage (and I”m talking about people’s reaction to the mosque thing, not the mosque itself. The mosque, clearly, will and should be built, as I’ve said above) would be if gay marriage was privileged somehow. Like if a gay person wanted to marry someone they didn’t have to ask that person, or perhaps a better analogy would be: Non-gay marriages require a license, gay marriages don’t and get a better tax break.

  82. #82 Greg Laden
    August 29, 2010

    DuWayne [79], you are being a jerk. The STARTING POINT for my position is taxes and the privilege of religion . Don’t tell me that I’m obfuscating the issue with that.

    You have made up the assertion that somehow I am approaching this as a teabagger, and you are taking my premises and relegating them to noise.

    Fuck you.

    DuWayne [80]: Exactly. Nice comment. Unfuck you.

  83. #83 DuWayne
    August 29, 2010

    Greg –

    I am not accusing you of being like the teabaggers. I am sorry that I failed to explicitly state that and see why you would be pissed at me. What I am trying to point out, is that you are, or at the very least, CFI is merely expanding the frame that the teabaggers are using. That you and CFI have another premise for a starting point is irrelvant, the bottom line is that the frame is the same. That doesn’t make you or CFI like the teabaggers, ie. a bunch of xenophobic morans.

    If the starting point is taxes, then why throw the Mosque by ground zero into the mix? You state explicitly in your post:

    “Religion did this. The terrorist attack was a religious event. I don’t want a mosque or a temple or a church or community center linked to a religion built in the vicinity of the destroyed World Trade Center on account of the attack any more than I want a religious structure built next to the Federal Office Building in Oklahoma City on account of that religious attack by Christian White Supremacist McVay.

    Substitute “religion” with “Islam” and you have said the exact same thing the teabaggers are saying. Not their words but their frame, minus some hysterical nuttiness.

    It’s seems we’re having two different discussions here. If we’re talking about the privilege of religion, then I am totally with you – but the whole ground zero discussion is irrelevant. If we are talking about the whole ground zero discussion, you are dead wrong and the religious privilege discussion is irrelevant.

    If you don’t want to give the terrorists that much more win, then why are you arguing that any particular construction should be kept away from ground zero? If you aren’t trying to equate religious people with terrorists, then why is building a religious structure near ground zero any different than building them anywhere else? In other words, why single out the area around the target of a terrorist attack? What exactly does building a religious structure near ground zero have to do with religious privilege?

    I am not trying to be a dick here, I’m really not. I am just trying to figure out a justification for CFI’s position and yours (as stated in the quote above), that doesn’t relate to the teabaggers frame. I am not seeing it and neither are a lot of other people. I’ve had some back and forth with the CFI events coordinator for MI and it is apparent by her response and the fact that CFI is going to be sending out clarification press release (that doesn’t address the issue most people I know of have been angry about) that the CFI membership is pretty fucking pissed about this.

    I am not trying to say that you should change your position because so many people disagree, btw. I am just pointing out that I am hardly alone in interpreting CFI’s statement this way. As of yet, I haven’t seen a response that actually addresses singling out ground zero.

  84. #84 Greg Laden
    August 29, 2010

    CFI is merely expanding the frame that the teabaggers are using.

    That is probably true.

    But there is a VERY BIG difference between trying to be a consistent thorn in the side of all organized and semi-organized religion and being a Christian engaged in a Holy War with Islam. Let’s keep that in mind. It should not be hard to maintain that framework during this conversation. There are about a dozen or more comments here and on Orac’s blog equating the opposition of religion with engaging in a verbal (or otherwise) holy war in the name of Jesus. I am absolutely floored that people are making this astonishing blunder.

  85. #85 James Hanlrey
    August 30, 2010

    Very disappointing stance by CFI and Gred Laden. It evidences a surprising disdain for the First Amendment. And using carefully chosen interpretations of zoning rules to prevent just religious institution from building near Ground Zero doesn’t necessarily avoid the First Amendment problem. If the purpose of the interpretation is to burden religion, then it’s a violation of the First Amendment under well-established law. Churches normally can be prevented through the permitting process only if their use is inappropriate for the area (such as in a neighborhood) or their are problems with their design/plans, such as a mega church on a road that can’t handle the traffic. There has to be a truly religiously-neutral reason, but what you’re recommending is coming up with some apparently neutral resolution merely as a cover for the real reason. That’s not exactly ethical

    And I don’t get this, from Laden.

    Until they tax the churches, they do not have the same property rights as private citizens do.

    Is that supposed to be a claim of legal fact, or a normative claim? Because churches do have the same property rights as I, a private citizen have, as a matter of law. If the government wanted to condemn the property of the church up the street from me they’d have to follow the 5th Amendment and apply due process and just compensation, just as if they took my house. If the house and stores near the church are allowed as a matter of law to paint their buildings neon green with orange stripes, so can the church. (Not that would be a legitimate rights vs. wisdom debate.) If the city builds a sewer down a street a church is on, it cannot allow all the home and store owners to hook up to the sewer, but deny the church property a hook up.

    The only laws cities can apply to are “neutral laws of general applicability” (Unemployment Div. v. Smith). But the application of the law has to be neutral, too, as the Court has ruled that “A regulation neutral on its face may, in its application, nonetheless offend the constitutional requirement for governmental neutrality if it unduly burdens the free exercise of religion.” Wisconsin v. Yoder.

    So what you mean by not having the same property rights is unclear to me. Perhaps you have some examples?

    And it can’t be based on lack of taxes. Churches are normally 501(c)(3) corporations, legally identifiable to my college, and legally identical to the research institute I’m developing (when I get the IRS paperwork done). Laden seems to be arguing for treating churches differently than any other–legally identical–non-profits, which would be a clear violation of the First Amendment.

    I understand and have no qualms about the anti-curch,including a personal desire that there be no more churches. But the desire to strip them, among all 501(c)(3) organizations only churches of their tax-exempt status.

    That goes beyond the bounds of dislike of religion to a desire to single out churches for sub-equal treatment. I find it disturbing to hear on this blog,and am saddened.

  86. #86 Greg Laden
    August 30, 2010

    James: “Very disappointing stance by CFI and Gred Laden. It evidences a surprising disdain for the First Amendment.”

    I’m all for the first amendment. Maybe you better read the revised CFI statement http://xrl.in/67id and pay a bit more attention to what I’m saying.

    Generally speaking, I see religious facilities as a drain on society. If you come to my town and ask me if I’d like to pay more taxes because you want to convert a city block of commercial or residential property to a megachurch and give me a vote, my default vote is no. You are telling me I should not do that. I’m not clear what gives you that idea.

    In the mean time, the process in NYC has run its course and they have decided to build the mosque. And I support that.

    In what way does that violate anyone’s first amendment rights? You, on the other hand, are telling me how I am supposed to feel about a certain issue.

    It is true that I did not make my stance fully clear in this post, because this post really had one purpose: To point people to my friend DuWayne’s interesting blog post on the topic. (I’ll certainly think twice before doing that again!). But my position is very clear if you take the time to read the comments.

    I might be more favorable to the construction of myriad places of worship if so many of them weren’t fully active business ventures using their tax status to compete with equivalent business that are secular. The “first amendment protection” seems to be helping them do that, and that is abuse. And step one in the abuse is to build the temple/mosque/church.

    I find it funny that people are so blind to this. Defending the “mosque” by saying “oh, it’s a rec center, so it’s OK” is one of the dumbest things I’ve heard all week, and that is coming from some very smart people.

    A rec center is a gym, or a club. A private gym like Bally’s or Lifetime or whatever. But since it is a religious facility, guess what … (you know the drill) they get a whopping tax break.

    Why is that OK? Why is this so hard to understand?

    If the government wanted to condemn the property of the church up the street from me they’d have to follow the 5th Amendment and apply due process and just compensation, just as if they took my house.

    Not even close, in reality. In reality, churches get privilege in most government processes. Not legally, but ubiquitously. Have you ever sued a church? I have. (well, I was part of a group that did). It is an interesting dance with a reality that most commenters on this thread are blissfully unaware of, apparently. Which I find rather shocking.

    Laden seems to be arguing for treating churches differently than any other–legally identical–non-profits, which would be a clear violation of the First Amendment.

    Ah … no, again. First, the situations are not equivalent. When this research institute you are building fucks up and makes somebody mad, do you actually think that civic staff, elected officials, inspectors, police, and the general populous is going to be extra nice to you and give you a break because “James Hanlrey died for our sins”? Seriously? In real life, the churches get more, much more. It is astonishing that you didn’t know that.

    I’m not sure what the argument is that connects the first amendment to a special tax status.

    “I understand and have no qualms about the anti-curch,including a personal desire that there be no more churches.”

    No, you are clearly against that position, when it comes down to it. You seem to be willfully ignoring the special status that churches have in practice, you seem to be privileging churches with special legal status and supporting that they should always have this, even when they are running what are essentially private businesses. You are very much in favor of giving the churches more of a head start and more of a break than the government and society is giving you for your research institution, because a church can get special status for running, say, a conference center, a gym, a food manufacturing plant, a camp ground, whatever, but You can’t.. And you are insisting that this remain the satus quo by attempting to shut down opinion to the contrary. When there is a close call legally, a person will often win out over a company or other larger institutional entity, when their case is before a jury or a judge, but when the entity is a church, the church wins out. Were you unaware of this? Did you not know about this whole child abuse thing, where police officials and DA’s have somehow managed to NOT raid the sites of thousands of crime scenes to collect evidence and arrest suspects because they are linked to searches. Thus giving the churches the benefit of the doubt and a privilege that they do not legally have and that the first amendment does NOT give them, over and in comparison to private individuals (the victims).

    Astonishing.

  87. #87 Stephanie Z
    August 30, 2010

    Greg, I’d be careful not to confuse the people saying, “Quit calling it a mosque,” with those saying, “So it’s okay.” You’re making a distinction yourself in the unfair competition argument, and I’m mostly annoyed at the teabaggers’ attempt to derail discussion by using a word that is exotic and, therefore, scary to people.

  88. #88 James Hanley
    August 30, 2010

    Greg,

    You’re conflating separate issues, the legal one and the issue of whether or not religion/churches are good in general. I’m not here to defend religion–having lost all my religion, I’m not too good at defending it.

    But I think your eagerness to use zoning regs to prevent churches does in fact demonstrate a desire to limit the First Amendment right to freedom of religion. It smacks of, “that pesky free exercise clause, well, we can use zoning regs to get around that and keep churches out wherever we don’t want them.”

    And your claim that Park 51 is different because “it competes with legitimate businesses,” so does my local YMCA (which despite the actual meaning behind it’s acronym, has no real Christian elements at all). Would you object to a YMCA developing the site? What if it was a non-profit organization that wanted to make a community and education center?

    And you repeat this claim of “special tax status.” My point is that churches do not have a special tax status–they have the same tax status as any other non-profit, 50(c)(3). You claim that “because they are a church, they get a whopping break.” But in fact they get the whopping break because they are a “non-profit organization.”

    The relationship to the First Amendment is that the free exercise clause would prohibit singling out only churches, among all non-profits, for for-profit status. (Granted, a small, but highly visible, number of churches aren’t functionally non-profit, only legally so. But that’s a general problem in the non-profit field, where the tax reductions sometimes lure in scam artists.)

    Now as to churches getting specially soft treatment from the police, as in the case of the child abuse scandal, I’m right there with you.

    And of course a mere generalized wish that nobody would choose to build religious institutions near Ground Zero is legitimate. It’s just the claim of “they can and maybe should use zoning to keep them out” that’s come under critique.

  89. #89 Greg Laden
    August 30, 2010

    Stephanie, the confusion is quite widespread and is very much part of the problem. It starts off with the distinction between a community center and a mosque. The way Muslim community centers and mosques can work makes that distinction a little different than people working with a mainly judeo-christian perspective think of it. Then, it was, plain and simple, never not a mosque. It was always a mosque. Second, it was never only a mosque. It was always a mosque as part of a larger project. Nonetheless, very few statements by anyone make note of any of these important nuances. It is quite possible that the nuances were not always important to each person’s specific statement … so when you said “it is not a mosque, it’s a community center” it may have been totally appropriate, because you were specifically (and obviously) addressing the problem of calling it a mosque as a scare tactic by the teabaggers, and calling it a community center deflates that. But it leaves open yet another possible location for confusion, and that is the way of blogs and comments on blogs.

    If I was Paul W, we could now have a fifty comment long post on what I know you must have really meant unless you disprove that I know to be true with incontrovertible evidence.

    My problems with this, as I think I ‘ve sad thirty or forty times now, are 1) (and this is real, current, and important) how much square footage of our collective societal landscape do we want to take off the tax rolls so religious organization can run businesses that compete with secular businesses? (like gyms/clubs/etc.) … and no, saying that I have not been making this argument because one did not notice it because one’s knee’s jerked straight into one’s brain (Duwayne) is not a valid counter argument. In this way, yes, my default vote is no, and has been for about 20 years now, and I have a track record to prove that (look up “lydia house” on the intertubes to see an interesting story) and 2) (much less clear, just a concern on my part, and in this case, probably not relevant but the first CFI statement did seem to imply that this was a factor): I want the “ground zero” locality and surrounds (and I dont’ give a fuck if a non-new yorker can’t tell the difference between near and far in New York, so let’s not hear again “do you mean one block? three? the entire universe” again, please) to go back to what it was, in order to produce one giant silent but effective “fuck you” in the best way possible. To the extent possible. Contra this, I do not want to see “ground zero” and surrounding areas become some kind of religious mecca because of this incident. That would be an irony. The prior existence of places of worship in this area is totally irrelevant, so maps pointing to existing churches and temples and mosques really don’t apply here either

    Because yes, this was an act of religious extremism.

  90. #90 Greg Laden
    August 30, 2010

    But I think your eagerness to use zoning regs to prevent churches does in fact demonstrate a desire to limit the First Amendment right to freedom of religion.

    I certainly did not say that and I certainly did not imply that, and i agree that this would be a violation.

    But you need to understand the reality of the situation. The way it works now, is that in most communities in the US where I have been active, and I think generally, the PROCESS (which is not a set of rules on books, but a set of hearings, documents, panel decisions of elected members of boards, and the occasional court battle overseen by judges who are often elected but only if they are not open atheists and sided by members of legal civic bodies with the same characteristic and lawyers who want to keep their businesses) .. the PROCESS favors the religious organizations.

    The relationship to the First Amendment is that the free exercise clause would prohibit singling out only churches, among all non-profits, for for-profit status.

    I have no problem with that, but that is not what I am talking about. I’m talking about churches using their no profit status to run businesses that are normally unable to operate as non profits. I’m sure the people who run my local gym would love to be non profit, but they can’t. But the other nearest gym to my house is a non-profit business run by a religious organization.

    Having said that I think there is a zoning/planning argument to be made to limit further building of religious facilities. If religious groups are leveraging the post 911 mindset to grab up more land (and in Manhattan that is quite a serious issue) then it would be quite reasonable for a simple moratorium for, say, 10 years. That would be reasonable, I think, but somehow me suggesting something like that makes otherwise intelligent people yell at me for being Glen Beck.

    Regarding the issue of whether churches should have non profit status at all: I am very unsure of that. It may well be that if churches can’t have it, no one can have it, and I don’t think I’d support that. But there still are arguments for churches not getting non profit status, but they are tricky.

    Oh, and just like the mosque-rec center distinction being important at times and thus something that should not be glossed, I’d like to take this opportunity to remind anyone that there are very very few non profits that do not make a profit. The “non profit” term here does not have much to do with profits. People entering in to this argument should probably be aware of that.

  91. #91 Stephanie Z
    August 30, 2010

    Greg, I understand and agree, but how could I resist the opportunity to muddy the picture by clarifying? :p

  92. #92 James Hanley
    August 30, 2010

    Greg, I agree with you about how the zoning process can be manipulated in favor of churches. All such processes are open to manipulation, especially when the rules are vague and/or complex, and the processed are conducted without much public scrutiny.

    I apologize for inferring that you were advocating using the process for the opposite purpose, of actively working against churches. I think your comments can be fairly read that way, but I take you at your word that it was my inference, and not your implication.

    But I think your concern about vast swaths of land becoming tax-free is a bit overstated. Few religious organizations have the money to buy a building in uptown Manhattan, downtown Chicago, etc. And the only way to stop those who do have the money would be to ban religious organizations from buying property we don’t want them to have. That’s a cure that’s much worse than the disease, if in fact it’s even a serious disease, and not just a minor ache and pain of no real significance.

    (And as to non-profits, yes, it doesn’t mean they don’t actually have revenue flows net above expenses. Oddly enough, though (and wholly off-topic), a fair number of non-profit operators tend to think that non-profit status means they don’t need to make a profit. They tend to stay small and not last long, however, because as it turns out, even non-profits need to bring in at least as much as they spend.)

  93. #93 Greg Laden
    August 30, 2010

    But I think your concern about vast swaths of land becoming tax-free is a bit overstated. Few religious organizations have the money to buy a building in uptown Manhattan, downtown Chicago, etc. And the only way to stop those who do have the money would be to ban religious organizations from buying property we don’t want them to have.

    Probably true. Yet, somehow they sweem to do it.

    The Minneapolis case to which I refer is a case of a church getting everyone to help them. Their profit was 500,000 guaranteed for the project regardless of success (like a developers fee). The would own 40 housing units in an improving neighborhood in the end … 40 crappy units that could be rebulit to 25 condos or into a much larger project if the outdoor parking was converted to indoor parking (they had the larges lot in the entire neighborhood linked to 40 units of supportive housing in which lived people without cars, pretty much). They were an urban church almost entirely patronized by people who had left the neighborhood in white flight, and lived in the suburbs but supported the church. Developers have been slitting each other’s throats for control of the property on the other three corners of this very central location. So it is quite possible for churches/etc. to obtain this land.

    And now, shall we discuss the other non profits that take advantage of people misunderstanding what they are really up for? (so we are not picking on the churches)???

    VFW anyone?

    /ducks/

  94. #94 DuWayne
    August 30, 2010

    Greg –

    My problems with this, as I think I ‘ve sad thirty or forty times now, are 1) (and this is real, current, and important) how much square footage of our collective societal landscape do we want to take off the tax rolls so religious organization can run businesses that compete with secular businesses? (like gyms/clubs/etc.) … and no, saying that I have not been making this argument because one did not notice it because one’s knee’s jerked straight into one’s brain (Duwayne) is not a valid counter argument.

    Bullshit Greg. First of all, my brain did nothing of the sort. I have been making a consistent argument and I fuckingwell stand by it. Second, I am fully aware that you have been making this argument about religious privilege. This is evident in my absolute agreement with you on that point for fucks sake.

    What I have argued and you have not addressed at all, is that religious privilege and the religious structures around ground zero are two distinct arguments. Both are irrelevant to the other. Period. I will repeat my questions from before, that would allow you to clarify exactly how all this is supposed to come together and that you have refused to address.

    If you don’t want to give the terrorists that much more win, then why are you arguing that any particular construction should be kept away from ground zero? If you aren’t trying to equate religious people with terrorists, then why is building a religious structure near ground zero any different than building them anywhere else? In other words, why single out the area around the target of a terrorist attack? What exactly does building a religious structure near ground zero have to do with religious privilege?

    I am not jerking my knee at all about this. Rather, I’m fucking pissed that an organization I have enjoyed being a part of has gone fucking loony. I am also disappointed that someone I respect and admire has jumped on the crazy train with them. I would really appreciate it if you would clarify how all this is supposed to fit together. At the very least explain why you think the area around ground zero should be treated any differently than any other neighborhood – especially in the face of understanding that doing so is just that much more win for the fucking terrorists.

  95. #95 Greg Laden
    August 30, 2010

    What I have argued and you have not addressed at all, is that religious privilege and the religious structures around ground zero are two distinct arguments. Both are irrelevant to the other. Period.

    Well, we disagree.

    If you don’t want to give the terrorists that much more win, then why are you arguing that any particular construction should be kept away from ground zero?

    I feel like I’m in middle school when I read that sort of response (and it has already been said). I want no scars on the landscape. If you’d like to define wanting no scars as a scar, you’re welcome to it. Not much I can say about that!

    I am not jerking my knee at all about this.

    Yes you are. You didn’t notice that you were being a full on accomodationist and now you are too embarrassed to admit it. But it’s OK, I forgive you.

    At the very least explain why you think the area around ground zero should be treated any differently than any other neighborhood

    It should not be, and the CFI is also saying it should not be. It is you and the others making the argument that if a person who believes in unicorns wants to build their unicorn worship box in some arbitrary location that anyone who questions that is a Glen Beckite or hates the first amendment. THAT is different.

    My position is uniform, universal, and consistent. But I have to say, with all the shit I’m taking, it would be a lot easier to be an accomodiationist!

  96. #96 DuWayne
    August 30, 2010

    Greg -

    Yes you are. You didn’t notice that you were being a full on accomodationist and now you are too embarrassed to admit it. But it’s OK, I forgive you.

    Fuck you. I am not arguing what you think I am arguing and are probably too embarrassed to admit that you haven’t noticed. I am certainly not being accommodating – that would be you, accommodating the terrorists by deciding that ground zero should be treated any differently than anywhere else.

    It should not be, and the CFI is also saying it should not be.

    Complete and utter fucking bullocks! You stated quite clearly in your post, just like CFI did in their initial press release, that ground zero specifically and OK city specifically should be religion free zones. That is certainly singling it out. And that is why I have repeatedly said that I agree with you about religious privilege, but disagree with singling anyplace out.

    It is you and the others making the argument that if a person who believes in unicorns wants to build their unicorn worship box in some arbitrary location that anyone who questions that is a Glen Beckite or hates the first amendment.

    Have fun looking for the quote in which I fucking claimed anything of the kind. I would like to see you point out where I said anything even close to that – though I can save you the trouble of looking, because I haven’t said that. I haven’t said a goddamned thing about the first amendment. I have not said that anyone should be able to build a religious structure anywhere they fuckingwell please.

    What I have repeatedly said is that I AGREE WITH YOU ABOUT RELIGIOUS FUCKING PRIVILEGE and think you’re dead wrong about singling out ground zero. So please, explain how that makes me an accomodationist? And while you’re at it, explain how you aren’t singling out ground zero:

    I don’t want a mosque or a temple or a church or community center linked to a religion built in the vicinity of the destroyed World Trade Center on account of the attack…

  97. #97 Greg Laden
    August 30, 2010

    DuWayne, pull the cotton out of your brain and start paying attention. At some level I wan Manhattan Island to be religion free. That is my opinion, and I’ll appreciate it if you stop terrorizing me by telling me that I can’t have that opinion. My first amendment is starting to get sore.

    Second, I wan Ground Zero to not become the City of Lourdes Grotto Gift Shop. It seems as though you do. Have you money invested in Plastic Exploding Jesus Statues or something?

    And C) “I AGREE WITH YOU ABOUT RELIGIOUS FUCKING PRIVILEGE”

    ALRIGHT THEN!!!!

    ok, the baby just crashed, gotta go rescue him

  98. #98 Stephanie Z
    August 30, 2010

    DuWayne, unless you two are having a ton of fun (in which case, don’t let me interrupt), try reading the statement you quoted as “I don’t want to make an exception to my general policy of not supporting new religious structires (i.e., I won’t single out that location for favoritism) just because the attack happened and people are sensitive about religious issues in the vicinity,” instead of, “I want an exception made.”

  99. #99 DuWayne
    August 30, 2010

    Greg –

    Oh dear, I hope he didn’t get stuck. Stuck babies are no fun. I also hope it wasn’t too bad a crash, as angry babies are not a lot of fun – especially after they have improved their lung capacity.

    I think you are wrong, that doesn’t mean I don’t think you have a right to your opinion. I am getting kind of irritated, because you are somehow not getting my clearly stated position. Other than that, I would like to understand your position, because it really makes no sense to me. I am going to be explicit about my position, rather than simply stating I agree with you. I will then explicitly state what is confusing me about yours.

    I would love to see the entire fucking world get some sense and stop worshiping magical beings. I would love to see less places of worship, not more – best case, they’re all gone. Short of that, I would love to see religions lose their tax exemptions – except insofar as we are talking about clearly delineated charitable activities (ie. activities that would qualify secular organizations for non-profit status). I would also really like to see privileges and accommodations currently afforded religions and the religious completely eliminated.

    I also think singling out ground zero or Manhattan for special treatment is a really bad idea for the reasons I have previously stated*. Why this would imply that I want to see ground zero turned into a grotto giftshop with exploding Jesus’s, I really can’t comprehend. That actually contradicts my stated position of not wanting to single out ground zero for special treatment.

    What I don’t understand, is how:

    I don’t want a mosque or a temple or a church or community center linked to a religion built in the vicinity of the destroyed World Trade Center on account of the attack…

    somehow doesn’t mean you are singling out ground zero. I mean you are explicitly stating that because this place was the target of an attack that was perpetrated by religious terrorists, you want to see it become a religion free zone. I don’t understand why, if you don’t actually want to see ground zero treated differently than any other neighborhood, you specifically single it out. As of yet, you really haven’t clarified this. Or have you changed your position on that?

    *ie. it gives the terrorists more win and implies there is something sacred about it.

  100. #100 Greg Laden
    August 30, 2010

    I don’t want it to become a religious free zone (well, I want the entire planet to become a religious free zone, but that’s besides the point). Have you been to Jerusalem? It’s a place where people have been going for centuries for pilgramage, and as a result it is loaded with religious tourist traps, temples and churches, etc. There are sites like that around the world …. where something happens to cause there to be a concentration of religious shrinery and activity. It is quite possible, even likely, that the vicinity of the WTC would develop in that direction. I don’t want to see that.

    There are already mosques, churches, etc. in the vicinity, they were there before. I’m not talking about getting rid of them.

    If I was on the zoning commission for NYC I’d be keeping my eye out for this. We hare having a hard enough time keeping the US a secular country. We don’t need a mini-Jerusalem to form every time some crazy saudi’s blow some shit up. It might sound that it is crazy to guess that such a thing might happen, but I feel it could, and my sense of this is not something I’ve pulled out of my ass. It is the kind of things people have been doing for thousands of years around the world … .making sacred districts. I know this because they taught me that in PhD school at the small east coast college I went to.

  101. #101 Andrew Bush
    August 31, 2010

    If not all families of the victims are offended by it, then I guess some people are just being more “sensitive” than others? People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. That said, “sensitivity” isn’t a reason to undermine the First Amendment Free Exercise clause, much less RLUIPA, especially since we know that it’s not a “victory mosque at ground zero”, but an Islamic center two blocks away.
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  102. #102 DuWayne
    August 31, 2010

    Greg -

    I see now, and apologize for misunderstanding you. It was your wording, coupled with your insistence that you agree with CFI that had me very confused about what exactly you meant. I temper my apology though, with the understanding that your position is not the position that CFI espoused in their initial press release. In particular:

    To honor those killed by faith fanatics, Ground Zero and its immediate vicinity should be kept free of any newly constructed house of worship — of any religion.

    That is not a call for avoiding the phenom you are describing. That is a call for turning ground zero into a sacred space that must, out of respect for the heinous act that was perpetrated there, be free of any new religious constructions. It is that and not issues with the first amendment that pissed off most of the CFI members in my area (many of whom have emailed me, as well as Jen, CFI MI’s events coordinator) and many of the people who have been commenting on this issue.

    I share your hope that the immediate vicinity of GZ is kept free of this touristy phenom – whether the garbage sold is religious or not. While I think it is important to leave a historical remembrance in that place, I would hope that it would be minimal, criticize the terrorism that perpetrated it and also criticize the insanity we followed it up with. But that is another issue.

    This still has left me wondering about my association with CFI, something I have been very pleased with. Regardless of the nature of the commentary, I am not all that pleased CFI felt the need to weigh in on this controversy at all. It might have been different, had they simply made a statement condemning the xenophobic, bigoted fucking neanderthals.

    And I was disappointed that the statement included a rather ignorant perspective about the OK City bombings. I would have expected rather better fact checking, rather than the perpetuation of an urban myth about Mcveigh. As he planned his atrocity in my own state and because I know people who knew him, I had rather a keen interest in learning more – and what I learned was that he was not a Christian, nor a white supremacist. He was a survivor and was associated with the Patriot movement. His association with white supremacists (as well as other survivalist type groups) was as an illicit arms trader – purely business. I can understand people who haven’t really had any interest in learning about it accepting the word of elements of the press and organizations they trust – I don’t understand an organization that a lot of people trust making the same blunder.

    I would note that this is only important to me, because it is an important example of political terrorism that doesn’t conform to specific political ideology. In the context of studying terrorism it is of specific scholarly interest precisely because it was reactionary, but not motivated by religion or specific political system. Claims that Mcveigh’s terrorist act was motivated by Christianity and white supremacy, would be much like claiming FARC (Columbian political terrorist group, supported by Venezuala’s Chavez government) is motivated by Christianity.

  103. #103 Rogu356
    September 3, 2010
  104. #104 Hyon Festa
    September 4, 2010

    People are still upset, but lets look at this closely. The mosque in question is several blocks away so the name “Ground Zero Mosque” is quite a misnomer. Also it’s been like nine years almost ten by the time the construction and inspections are finished. Lets not forget that there is another mosque much closer to where ground zero is and no one has a problem with that mosque.
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  105. #105 John Kwok
    September 4, 2010

    Greg,

    Am in full agreement with your opposition to the proposed Cordoba Initiative (they call it now Park51) Mosque, except with respect to your suggestion that all religious buildings be removed from Manhattan.

    Here’s some additional information that may be useful to you and your fellow commentators here:

    1) Saint Nicholas Church, the Greek Orthodox Church destroyed during the 9/11/01 Al Qaeda terrorist attack, has not yet been granted permission by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey – which owns the Ground Zero site – to rebuild.

    2) The Cordoba Initiative site is partly own by Con Edison (the local electrical utility company) and by SoHo Properties, whose owner, Sharif El-Gamal, is a native New Yorker of Egyptian and Polish heritage. He owes local governments $227,000 in back taxes on this property.

    3) El-Gamal has an interesting history, having been a waiter at several high profile restaurants, then spending a year as a realtor, before establishing SoHo Properties back around 2003. He has been arrested seven times for physical misconduct.

    4) Imam Faisal Rauf is the owner of several residential properties in Union, NJ, and apparently, has been unmasked as a slumlord.

    5) Local building trades unions have pledged that they will not work on the Cordoba Initiative project.

    Given these circumstances, it is highly unlikely that the project will ever be built.

    I have offered my own two cents on this elsewhere over at Facebook:

    Personally I think an Islamic Cultural Center in New York City is a great idea, as long as it devotes ample time toward condemning ongoing Muslim human rights abuses in the United States and elsewhere around the globe, and works toward ensuring that Islam emerges finally out of the Middle Ages with respect to religious tolerance, the proper role between the state and religion, and the humane treatment of women and religious and ethnic minorities. But it shouldn’t be built at the World Trade Center site, which is hallowed ground, and should be respected as such for all people of all faiths. But of course I don’t think Ramal, El-Gamal and Khan would support this.

  106. #106 Charis Lagergren
    September 7, 2010

    It’s not a mosque, it’s a cultural centre, it’s not near enough to be visible from ground zero, it’s just people trying to make a controversy out of nothing.
    http://purehoodiawarning.com/

  107. #107 Greg Laden
    September 9, 2010

    except with respect to your suggestion that all religious buildings be removed from Manhattan.

    Not removed. Converted to pretty parking ramps and mixed use housing/commercial developments.

  108. #108 John Powers
    September 26, 2010

    It’s a great debate.
    Should they or shouldn’t they?

    My new webisode is taking this debate head-on.

    The Hand-Off is a web series where comedians
    using Hauppets (hand puppets) debate hot topics.

    Check out the Hand-Off here:

  109. #109 Tim Malone
    October 21, 2010

    Unfortunately i can’t post anything here :(

    http://www.leanspa.net

  110. #110 Greg Laden
    October 21, 2010

    Tim, that is because you appear to be spam. Are you not spam? Indeed, your web site, when I tried to close it, popped up a box. People who design web sites like that should receive punishment, not links. Explain yourself.

  111. #111 Greg Laden
    December 29, 2010

    this post has become a spam target, so comments closed.

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