Juvenile Instructor » Mormons and Mosques, and now Harry Reid
 


Mormons and Mosques, and now Harry Reid

By: Max - August 17, 2010

After hearing this morning that Harry Reid has now entered into this vitriolic debate about the right to build a mosque (or the responsibility not to do so) where shadows of the Twin Towers once fell, my curiosity about how Mormons, both scholars and non, feel about this controversy, has bubbled over onto the virtual pages of JI.

As we well know, from the point of view of its detractors, Mormonism has been linked to Islam since at least E. D. Howe’s 1834 Mormonism Unvailed, in which the Ohio newspaperman declared that Joseph Smith cited his own “extreme ignorance and apparent stupidity” as proof of the authentic prophethood, just as Mohammed had claimed his own illiteracy as proof of the divinity of the Quran.

Since this controversy over the mosque in Manhattan began a few months ago, I couldn’t help but see the historical comparisons we could make between this type of insidious religious persecution and the types Mormons have faced in the past and as of late (as I’m typing this in my Somerville apartment, I can see through the foliage the Belmont Temple, the construction of which faced its own challenges by non-Mormon locals who cloaked what I believe to be anti-Mormonism in language of parking lot run-off and traffic congestion).
No doubt, Harry Reid’s decision to weigh in on the side of the anti-mosquers is a political move, intended to win him a few votes among the anti-Obama set in his hotly contested reelection bid, and in my view also pick up a nomination in the category of most ironic political decision for 2010 category.
Perhaps I go too far. The area around Ground Zero is certainly hallowed ground and sensitivity (the buzz word misused in my interpretation by those opposed to the mosque) should be respected. Yet (what I’m sure is obvious from this post) I feel that on constitutional grounds made clear by President Obama, and perhaps more importantly on moral grounds, I believe the mosque should be allowed to be built as a symbol to the world that America takes seriously its principle of freedom of religion. My opinion is that there is no better place than to build this mosque than close to Ground Zero, especially since according to the plans it will serve not only the Manhattan Muslim community but provide theater and athletic spaces for all New Yorkers.
As a historian, I would believe that saints would be natural allies with these Muslims hoping to construct a house of worship (and social center), as Mormons have fought similar battles for decades, and did so often citing the Constitution. Even more poignantly, as the most persecuted religious community in American history, saints observing the tide of American sentiment moves clearly against the construction of this mosque would find, I would imagine, parallels in their recent and more distant past.
Perhaps my personal feelings on this issue have gotten in the way of cogent analysis. Perhaps I should understand Harry Reid’s decision to condemn the mosque’s construction as I understand Mormons’ participation in the Proposition Eight fight—that these political decisions actually mark the degree to which Mormonism has integrated into the (conservative) American experience. Mormons no longer feel the need to, even implicitly, defend the history of plural marriage and instead can join their one-time persecutors in their fight against legal recognition of unconventional love-partnerships (without the Wendy Doniger dog barking at the gate). And in terms of the mosque, Mormons like Reid can practice American civil religion (as it was revamped after 9/11) and not side with religious outsiders, of which his adopted faith was a part, in the defense of religious freedom.

So let me put my question to the JI community more directly. Am I right about Reid’s decision? Are there in fact historical parallels to be drawn between the Mormon and Muslim American Experiences? How does the LDS community at large feel about this issue? Is it an issue of religious freedom for saints? Or am I missing something profound about the claim to “sensitivity”?



171 Comments

  1. I agree with you Max. I wasn’t aware that Reid had come out against it, but I’m disappointed he did. That seems like a pretty shallow political play to me.

    Comment by Kevin Barney — August 17, 2010 @ 9:24 am

  2. I think your analogies between LDS struggles to build temples and the mosque in Manhattan are strained. The church has never incited its followers to mass murder & terrorism (no, Mountain Meadows is not remotely comparable to Jihad). This fact cannot be glossed over, and it is the reason why this is such a controversial mosque – not just the fact that Muslims are “different” in similar ways to Mormons.

    Comment by Protiv — August 17, 2010 @ 9:30 am

  3. By the way, Obama has backpedaled on his support for the mosque.
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100814/ap_on_go_pr_wh/us_ground_zero_mosque_obama

    Comment by Protiv — August 17, 2010 @ 9:32 am

  4. Protiv–

    Yeah, that’s not the question at all. I won’t bother with your assertion that the whole of Islam is responsible for terrorism. The question is does America take seriously the idea of religious freedom? And as a group that has experienced the application of this question, can Mormons see themselves in this controversy?

    As for Obama’s packpeddling–his clarification is almost verbatim what he said at the iftar celebration at the White House, a practice inaugurated in its current form by President G. W. Bush, but dates back to Jefferson. The idea of “packpeddling” is, in my reading, a media creation.

    Comment by Max — August 17, 2010 @ 9:52 am

  5. But Obama never showed either support or non-support of the Cordoba House. He just indicated that they are within their right to practice their religion freely and build what they want on private property in lower Manhattan. Whether it is wise or not is not something the president ought to be involved in. Neither Harry Reid.

    It’s a real shame to see those who push so hard for their own religious freedom here in America, so quickly trampling under their feet the very hallowed First Amendment they use to defend their religious freedoms so that other faiths cannot have access to that same freedom.

    Honestly when will all this madness end?

    Comment by Dan — August 17, 2010 @ 9:54 am

  6. Protiv, Islam is no more monolithic than Christianity. Blaming the members of the specific Islamic community for a specific offshoot of another Islamic sect, Wahibiism for the 9-11 “mass murder and terrorism” is like blaming Mormons for the crusades and Mountain Meadows massacre. How lightly you toss that one aside.

    Comment by djinn — August 17, 2010 @ 9:58 am

  7. There are some similarities. For us it was our “incompatability” with american polity; the rejection of traditional capitalism, the mixture between religious and political power, the insitution of plural marriage, encouraging converts to leave their families and go to Zion, and rebellion against the US government. It didn’t matter what was true and what was fabricated. Public perception is the key.

    But we were (and are) a centrally administered group. The same cannot be said of Islam. And we frequently bow to community pressure even when we have the right to ignore it. The Nashville Temple did not get built as planned, or where it was originally planned.

    I will be happy if the mosque gets built where they want it to get built. I think it fits what I want America to look like. But I do not want the LDS church to be compared to an organization that will stubbornly assert its right to build there at the expense of public sentiment. That is not who we are today.

    Comment by Bruce Crow — August 17, 2010 @ 9:59 am

  8. Thanks for the thoughtful post, Max. I’m having some difficulty gauging the general attitude of most Mormons on this issue, but my own anecdotal experience over the last couple of weeks suggests that there’s a fairly even divide. For every Harry Reid, there seems to be a Larry Slusser, a Mormon who serves as secretary to an interfaith organization in California and who suggested that people fear the construction of this mosque and others because they don’t know and don’t understand Islam.

    I strongly support the construction of the Cordoba Initiative’s community center, and while I generally consciously try to avoid what I see as an all-too-common and overly-sensitive persecution mentality among Mormons, I have no doubt that my own religious heritage of persecution affects how I feel.

    Protiv,

    Max is, of course, right to call you out for your ignorant assessment of Islam as a collective body being responsible for what happened on 9/11. I heard someone else hypothetically compare this to people in Texas opposing the construction of an LDS temple because of the actions of the FLDS church and their alleged abuse of children and teenagers. That comparison, like any other, has its problems, but its basic point—that Al-Quaeda is no more representative of Islam that the FLDS are of Mormondom—is an apt one to make.

    Comment by Christopher — August 17, 2010 @ 10:00 am

  9. Thanks for broaching the topic. (And when I started typing there were no comments. I’d better learn to think faster.)

    (1) Am I right about Reid’s decision?
    Sort of. I don’t see enough evidence to make even a tentative claim about Reid’s intent. I think the decision will “win him a few votes among the anti-Obama set…” but am not persuaded that votes are the only or even the dominant motive in his decision. (Also: for me as citizen (not historian), the “intent” of public figures is mostly a minor ingredient in the sausage.)

    (2) Are there in fact historical parallels to be drawn between the Mormon and Muslim American Experiences?
    Yes.

    (3) How does the LDS community at large feel about this issue?
    My anecdotal tally says: divided/ambivalent, but leaning toward opposition to the community center.

    (4) Is it an issue of religious freedom for saints?
    No—as long as it remains an issue of peaceful protest and editorial. “Religious freedom” doesn’t mean freedom from opposition. As long as NYC applies the zoning laws fairly and the NYPD provides appropriate protection to those who use the facility, the rest of us are free to make fools of ourselves on the sidewalk if we want to. I think the Hill Cumorah Pageant and its protesters might provide a parallel.

    (5) Or am I missing something profound about the claim to “sensitivity”?
    If there is something to the claim to sensitivity, I’m missing it, too. And by “missing” I mean, “I don’t see it, not even a little bit.” To me, the 9/11 hijackers have about as much to do with Islam as the Nazis had to do with Christianity*. If Al Quaeda was trying to put up a monument to the “martyrs” on the site, I’d be all over the “sensitivity” argument (but from across the street if it were on private property in conformance with zoning ordinances). As it is, the whole ruckus flummoxes me to incoherence.

    *to whit: many/most Nazis were at least nominally Christian; the Nazis employed/co-opted Christian narratives and symbology; many non-Nazi Christians maintained complicated relations with Nazis imbricated with cultural, ideological, and familial ties.

    Comment by Edje Jeter — August 17, 2010 @ 10:05 am

  10. I’ll also add that Spencer Fluhman’s research seems relevant to this discussion.

    Comment by Christopher — August 17, 2010 @ 10:07 am

  11. I think Bruce’s last paragraph is about right. On balance I am in favour of the mosque for the reason outlined on the OP:

    ” I believe the mosque should be allowed to be built as a symbol to the world that America takes seriously its principle of freedom of religion.”

    But imagine if the Church announced it was to build a temple at Mountain Meadows. I doubt anyone would argue that they had no right. But I’m sure there would be plenty of hand-wringing regarding the sensitivity of such a move.

    Comment by gomez — August 17, 2010 @ 10:12 am

  12. Protiv,

    If we don’t acknowledge the good religious traditions inspire in people and not only the bad, then we must be left to conclude that the New Atheists have a good point about the evils of religion. Like djinn stated, Mormonism has its Mountain Meadows Massacre and I would add that Christianity has countless examples of outright evil things being done in the name of faith. If we only focus on these atrocities than we should dismiss all religion out of hand.

    Comment by Joel — August 17, 2010 @ 10:13 am

  13. I think I really don’t want to have any accurate gauge of how rank-and-file Mormons feel about these questions. I think I would be unpleasantly surprised by an even greater lack of rationality than I hope is the case. There is something about the word “Islam,” just as there is about the word “Mormon,” that unleashes lightning bolts of fury flashing out of black stupor-of-thought clouds among far too many Americans.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — August 17, 2010 @ 10:26 am

  14. Thanks for the thoughtful comments. Gomez brings up a nice “test” of this idea of building on sacred ground. I’ve posed the question to myself: what if this mosque was to be constructed on any part of the Ground Zero site? Would that make the mosque a provocation? I’d say yes, but I’d hope that no particular religious group would build on the site as it belongs to the American experience (which is unified by inherent plurality) and not to any particular religious or cultural group.

    This brings up another more theoretical question for religious scholars. How far does the “sacred” extend from a religious site? I think this is where the reasonable folks on both sides of this debate disagree. I think that the sacred is located only on the physical space that was destroyed by the attacks (the idea that the buildings where the mosque would be built did experience damage and dust does complicate this in my mind). I think those “reasonable” people (i.e. folks willing to have a debate about this issue that does not devolve into outright condemnations of entire religious communities) who think this is a provocation perhaps feel so because their idea of the “sacred” at Ground Zero extends to these building sites. Just a thought…

    Comment by Max — August 17, 2010 @ 10:33 am

  15. It’s an interesting question how America with its open religious patterns should or can interact with a more totalitarian approach to religion. It is side-stepping the issue to point out that not all or most Islamists want to dominate others; there are some who certainly do, who would like the rest of the world to be more like Saudi Arabia, so how do we accommodate their choice of religious practice? For those who orchestrated and carried out the killing of 3,000 people in New York City, religion was a huge part of it. I don’t know how like-minded those sponsoring this particular Islamic center are, but if the Mohammed Atta Fan Club can scrounge up the money, they’d probably like to contribute or build their own center next door.

    Looking at these events, I can get an idea why sending out Johnston’s army seemed like a good idea to some people. A lesson for Latter-day Saints is try not to scare the hell out of people. I think we’ve gotten better at it.

    Comment by John Mansfield — August 17, 2010 @ 10:46 am

  16. I agree with Edje that our commitment to freedom of religion and freedom of speech should mean that any religious group is free to build a worship facility whereever it is legal to do so, and anyone who dislikes that group is free to protest, march, or otherwise let their discontent be known. (See proposition 8 and protests around LA temple.)

    Comment by DavidH — August 17, 2010 @ 10:52 am

  17. Amen to Edje and DavidH.

    Comment by SC Taysom — August 17, 2010 @ 11:12 am

  18. From the Pueblo Chieftain, a couple years ago:

    “Leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints made their second trip in a week to apologize to members of the town board for the three missionaries who were allegedly depicted mocking the Catholic faith and possibly defacing a local holy shrine in photos found Thursday on the Internet.”

    . . .

    “Colorado Springs Mission President Robert Fotheringham, who oversees the missionary program in the San Luis Valley, said following the meeting that he expected the church’s missionary program would one day return to San Luis, which is the oldest town in Colorado.

    “But, he said, healing needed to take place in the community before that would happen.”

    . . .

    “The mayor’s letter also touched on the construction of a new LDS church meeting house on the north end of Main Street in San Luis, approved by the town board last year.

    “The letter said the town had welcomed the church based on the principles of freedom of expression and the right of religious practice.

    “Although there are no regulatory steps left for the LDS church to go through with the town, Mendoza-Green questioned the town’s decision.

    “And she asked if there was a big enough Mormon population in the town to justify building the church here.

    “‘To this day I still ask that question,’ she said.

    “The town signed off on plans for the 6,000-square-foot church, despite critics who said the building would not fit in the heart of town, which was declared a National Historic District in 1978, in part for its traditional architecture.

    “The LDS church agreed to modify plans for the new building last year, abandoning its traditional red-brick architecture for tan-colored, stucco walls.

    “Still, resident Priscilla Salazar Martinez called for the church to remove the steeple from the building and donate it to the town to serve as a community center.

    “Todd Barr, president of the Manassa stake of the LDS church, said he didn’t think the incident would change the projected opening of the new church at the end of May.

    “Matt Norton, branch president of the church that plans to move the 12 miles from Mesita to San Luis, said the building would serve about 80 members.

    “He said the church made the move to San Luis for access to water and town utilities.”

    http://www.chieftain.com/metro/article_5f04405f-3d40-5958-b940-a2bc280306f9.html

    Comment by John Mansfield — August 17, 2010 @ 11:54 am

  19. I actually support the building of this mosque. I think the mosque will be a powerful symbol of the value we as a society place on religious freedom and ideological pluralism.

    Having said that, I believe any discussion of this issue which tries to gloss over jihad and terrorism is incomplete. I also think it’s very difficult to draw analogies between this situation and other historical events without significant distortion.

    Also, defenders of pluralism should be much more cautious about labeling those who disagree with them as ignorant. At the heart of true tolerance is the understanding that well-informed, well-meaning people will come to different viewpoints on important issues. Immediately assuming that people who disagree with you do so because they are ignorant is textbook intolerance.

    Comment by Protiv — August 17, 2010 @ 1:39 pm

  20. I tend to agree there are many parallels between Mormon and Muslim experiences. And I think this mosque deal is silly. Of course they should be permitted. That said I also agree given the feelings it probably the Iman in question should have found a different place. I think it’s more analogous to Mormons building a temple or even a chapel beside the Mountain Meadows Massacre monument. Even today, over a hundred years after that event people would think it inappropriate. So we shouldn’t be surprised people are upset at it.

    Comment by Clark — August 17, 2010 @ 1:54 pm

  21. I didn’t immediately assume that you disagreed with me because you’re ignorant. I assessed your implication that Islam “incited its followers to mass murder & terrorism” as an ignorant one, and I stand by that judgment.

    Comment by Christopher — August 17, 2010 @ 1:54 pm

  22. The “area around” Ground Zero hallowed? I don’t think so.

    If it were, what kinds of activities should be permitted/disallowed, out of respect for those who died that day? What about speculation at the American Stock Exchange? Or adulterous liaisons at the Millenium Hilton? What about the sale of inedible (and obesity inducing) food at McDonalds and Dunkin’ Donuts? Or the topless dancing at the Pussycat Lounge?

    Mormons who have jumped on the anti-mosque bandwagon have either never learned their history or are wilfully ignoring it. And, it’s not as if one would have have to go back very far to find the same kinds of opposition in our histor, always cloaked in the same lies (we have no objection to the Mormons–it’s just if they build here it will cause congestion/noise/shadows/light at night/etc.). (See, e.g., the Boston Temple, the White Plains NY Temple, the Lancaster, PA, meetinghouse–see today’s BCC headlines, another meetinghouse in the suburbs of Portland, Oregon, and on and on and on.)

    And those bandwagon jumpers also don’t realize that the most serious limitations on religious freedom these days, whether in the First Amendment-protected U.S. or abroad, are much more prosaic than direct bans on worship. Rather it’s limitations on ownership or use of property or opening of bank accounts or transfers of money or immigration of missionaries or ministers.

    Comment by Mark B. — August 17, 2010 @ 2:00 pm

  23. djinn,

    #6,

    Actually for the comparison to be more accurate, it would be like Mormons being held responsible/accountable for what German Christians did to Jews in the 1930s. Thus a Mormon temple cannot be built close to Auschwitz because of course, it is Christians who caused the Holocaust. That’s a better representation of the relationship of the Cordoba House Muslims to Al-Qaida.

    Comment by Dan — August 17, 2010 @ 2:45 pm

  24. Bruce,

    #7,

    But I do not want the LDS church to be compared to an organization that will stubbornly assert its right to build there at the expense of public sentiment. That is not who we are today.

    If I remember the history of the building of the Boston temple correctly, your statement is not how the church proceeded forward with building it where they built it. Opposition was quite strongly against the temple from the local community. The church however stubbornly asserted its right to build the temple there at the expense of public sentiment.

    Comment by Dan — August 17, 2010 @ 2:47 pm

  25. I think it is an issue of Constitutionality. We believe the Constitution to be an inspired document. It establishes freedom of religion and speech. There are no caveats for it in the First Amendment. Because of intolerance towards others, we had Mormons driven from state to state, and not allowed to build on their own property. Often the oppressors justified it as owing to the fact that Mormons were trying to take over the political machine of the state, or even America.

    Let them build the Mosque. Let us show that our faith in the First Amendment is stronger than any fear of radicalism – which would occur regardless of whether there is a mosque built or not.

    Comment by Rameumptom — August 17, 2010 @ 2:53 pm

  26. I don’t need to believe that the Constitution was divinely inspired to support freedom of religion and speech. Being an American ought to be enough, no?

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — August 17, 2010 @ 2:59 pm

  27. I think we should remember that the Church already owns the land at Mountain Meadows and constructed the memorial there.

    So, we have already done the “offensive act” that some object to Muslims doing near Ground Zero.

    Comment by Kent Larsen — August 17, 2010 @ 3:10 pm

  28. Bruce (#7),

    Were you not around for the Nashville temple fracas. We looked an awful lot like “an organization that will stubbornly assert its right to build there at the expense of public sentiment”–the nasty lawsuit and series of appeals sure seemed kinda stubborn.

    Comment by Kristine — August 17, 2010 @ 3:51 pm

  29. Had the Iman built a 911 memorial the way Hinkley built a MMM memorial I don’t think there would have been the hue and cry. So I don’t think that’s a good comparison. Dans Holocoadt analogy is better especially since a convent was forbidden to be built next to Aushwitz as many conservatives noted.

    Comment by Kent — August 17, 2010 @ 3:53 pm

  30. 29: Kent, there was *plenty* of objection to the church’s construction of the MMM monument regardless of how Pres. Hinckley went about it — cries for the land to be donated to the Park Service or to this or that Arkansas kin group,accusations of insincerity, objections to any Mormon involvement at all — perhaps about what we’d all expect if instead of building a community center, this Muslim group were building a monument to the 9/11 victims. Still, it’s a good enough comparison that it should make Mormons think twice about the inconsistency of protesting the Manhattan building.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — August 17, 2010 @ 4:07 pm

  31. For the record Ardis, I actually think the objectors had a good point about the Mormons putting up the monument. And given that it’s been a ridiculously long time I think 10 years ought make people consider the propriety of the Mosque. Once again let me be clear that I think they ought be able to build it. But then I think the gay bar ought be able to be built beside it too while that’s been denied.

    The question is about what is appropriate versus what is allowable. Something that gets conflated a bit in these discussions.

    I should note that protests against temples bears no analogy that I can see. That’s almost always blatant religious persecution proper. However when an attrocity has been committed in a particular place I think the issue is frankly different. That’s why I agree the nuns shouldn’t have tried to build a convent beside Auschwitz. It’s really not an issue of religious persecution.

    Comment by Clark — August 17, 2010 @ 4:27 pm

  32. It’s really not an issue of religious persecution.

    Huh? To what are you referring here?

    Comment by Christopher — August 17, 2010 @ 4:29 pm

  33. Christopher, to be explicit, every case I can think of where people protested the building of a temple was done because they didn’t like Mormons. The protest by Jews against the convent being built near Auschwitz wasn’t tied to anti-Catholic feeling.

    Comment by Clark — August 17, 2010 @ 4:34 pm

  34. Thanks for the clarification. I was wondering whether you were likening the Auschwitz example to the current situation in NYC and thus suggesting that it was not an issue of religious persecution.

    Comment by Christopher — August 17, 2010 @ 4:51 pm

  35. Well I think there are elements of religious persecution in the mosque situation – typically by those with no nuance in how they view the world outside the US. However I also think there are people for whom the issues is completely analogous to the nuns at Auschwitz. So I think it a fair analogy for why the mosque shouldn’t have been located there even though I don’t think it offers sufficient explanation for why people are upset. There are really two issues at play.

    Comment by Clark — August 17, 2010 @ 4:57 pm

  36. Kent (29), the project has not been built yet, so the Imam hasn’t built anything. As I understand it, no architectural plans have been released either, so to what extent it will be a memorial is also not known. It IS meant to be a cultural center, with the avowed purpose of bringing muslims and others together. So, I’m not sure we can claim that its purpose is so different from the memorial at Mountain Meadows that it isn’t justified.

    Clark, I think you are at least partially wrong in claiming that “protests against temples … [are] almost always blatant religious persecution proper.” While much of the issue comes down to what you believe is a reasonable restriction on your neighbors, it seems to me that a majority of the objections are simply neighbors worried about traffic and lighting, the same as they would worry if the building was a sports stadium.

    Of course, it is almost certainly true that anti-Mormons use these issues for their own ends also. I choose to believe that the majority have good intentions.

    Comment by Kent Larsen — August 17, 2010 @ 5:21 pm

  37. Clark (31) “given that it’s been a ridiculously long time”

    I assume you mean from the time that the MMM occurred until the construction of the memorial?

    I’m not sure that I agree with this time argument. A lot of that depends on how well the incident is know, and what happened when. Was the Church’s acquisition of the land (in the late 1800s?) also “a ridiculously long time?” Was it a “ridiculously long time” between when the event became well known again (post Juanita Brooks, at least) and the construction of the memorial? Does the amount of sentiment about the event factor into this?

    Perhaps this mosque is insensitive (I’m not convinced), but if it is, then we should worry about our own insensitivity.

    Comment by Kent Larsen — August 17, 2010 @ 5:33 pm

  38. Kent, that might be. It’s not been my experience, but I could understand if that’s the case.

    I believe though the Iman wants the building to be used as a cultural center. I’m not sure what that entails but as I understand it he isn’t after a mosque, although they’ll be a small equivalent of a chapel in it. But it’s not a monument like what the Church built at MMM. At least that’s what I recall the NYT reporting.

    As for time, I think close to 150 years vs. 8 years while still in active hostilities ought make a huge difference.

    Comment by Clark — August 17, 2010 @ 7:08 pm

  39. I’m still not sure what the Imam’s motive is for being insistent about putting the mosque on this specific site – haven’t seen it sufficiently explained anywhere. I’m all for supporting the right to build and worship, according to the Constitution, but will “they” even recognize such a gesture as our “good will,” or will it be “the ignorant infidels have been duped.”

    Interesting article on the net about the Greek Orthodox church that was the only church destroyed in the 9/11 attack hasn’t been permitted to rebuild….

    Comment by Mel — August 17, 2010 @ 7:29 pm

  40. Mel,

    That particular Islamic group has resided in lower Manhattan for several decades. Not sure how familiar you are with lower Manhattan, but finding any available spot is highly difficult. I’m sure they were quite happy at finding this old Burlington Coat Factory building.

    Comment by Dan — August 17, 2010 @ 7:54 pm

  41. Mel, part of the problem just may be the fact that you are differentiating “them” from “us.” The folks who want to build the community center are Americans. “They” are “us.”

    Comment by Christopher — August 17, 2010 @ 8:04 pm

  42. will “they” even recognize such a gesture as our “good will,” or will it be “the ignorant infidels have been duped.”

    It makes no difference.

    Comment by SC Taysom — August 17, 2010 @ 8:22 pm

  43. That’s a great point Dan.

    Comment by Clark — August 17, 2010 @ 8:46 pm

  44. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=129256069

    NPR’s Talk of the Nation discussed the controversy today. I’d highly recommend taking a listen as we hear from inside Muslim communities and how they interpret this issue.

    Comment by Max — August 17, 2010 @ 8:50 pm

  45. The only real question I have seen from opponents (that seems to have real merit) is: Is this mosque connected in a meaningful way to the 9-11 terrorists, Al-Queda, or other muslim terrorist groups? If so, this could be a victory memorial or commemoration. Unfortunately, this is a very difficult question to answer. Some conservative politicos have answered in the affirmative, many other people have said they have the 1st amendment right, but do not address the possible connection to terrorists.

    The Mormon analogy holds here also. We have a domestic headquarters, PR people around the country, a clearly defined organization, and still our church is confused with crazy splinter groups by many. Can we really expect to get a definitive answer about a larger, more diffuse, mostly foreign religion, with hostilities still on-going? Not likely on a large political scale.

    Comment by el oso — August 17, 2010 @ 10:13 pm

  46. Dan, I don’t know much about the history around the Boston Temple. I’ll look that up.

    Kristine, I was not in Tennessee for the three and a half years that the conflict went on. I admit my knowledge is based only on what I have read and is probably tempered by time. But the temple we built was smaller and on a different site. Did we change our plans voluntarily? Or were we forced to go to plan B.

    Perhaps, however, my illusion that we would not do the same thing is not based on reality. But I still would be happy if the mosque gets built where they want to build it.

    Comment by Bruce Crow — August 18, 2010 @ 2:51 am

  47. […] Max at Juvenile Instructor has posted in a similar vein. I believe this is a bit different from his post, but to the extent it isn't, I hope he will excuse me for covering similar ground.] 0 people like […]

    Pingback by Temples & Mosques & Zoning | Times & Seasons — August 18, 2010 @ 7:01 am

  48. FWIW, I do think that the history of the difficulties constructing Temples and coexisting with Temple neighbors is a largely neglected and confused part of recent Mormon history. Many members assume without serious reflection that the opposition is all from anti-mormons and bigots — a simplistic assumption at the least. I’ve even talked to a few people about writing a book on the subject.

    If anyone is interested in researching in more depth the Temple “zoning” issues, I’d love to talk more.

    Comment by Kent Larsen — August 18, 2010 @ 4:38 pm

  49. Bruce, we were forced after a lot of nasty zoning commission hearings and a lawsuit that could easily have been avoided if the Building Committee had gotten even a little bit of local input before purchasing the initial site.

    Comment by Kristine — August 18, 2010 @ 5:41 pm

  50. I’m confused by the term “hallowed ground,” which is used here without gloss. What makes ground hallowed?

    Comment by Will Pitkin — August 18, 2010 @ 9:49 pm

  51. Not the same at all…none of our Mormon ‘extremists” go around blowing people up. They can build that mosque in a hundred other places in NY, to be so obsessed with this place is telling. Did you know that the Muslim Mosque is traditionally built over places of religious conquest? This is a symbol to them, and one we should not allow. Its a slap in the face to all those who lost their lives that day. I care more about the victims’ families feelings than the ‘rights’ to build wherever they dang please. I can’t believe they aren’t being sensitive to the families. GO BUILD SOMEWHERE ELSE.

    Comment by Olive — August 19, 2010 @ 3:05 am

  52. http://www.cordobainitiative.org

    A look around their website was interesting.
    It pretty much cemented me as for the “mosque.”

    Comment by Thomas Parkin — August 19, 2010 @ 3:41 am

  53. Olive,

    Not the same at all…none of our Mormon ‘extremists” go around blowing people up.

    Which is why I think it is a silly comparison. However, none of the Cordoba group also go around blowing people up. Thus your concern should be allayed.

    They can build that mosque in a hundred other places in NY, to be so obsessed with this place is telling

    Once again, real estate in New York is not as simple as you suggest. Furthermore, this particular Muslim group has resided in lower Manhattan for several decades. Why should they be forced to move someplace else?

    Did you know that the Muslim Mosque is traditionally built over places of religious conquest? This is a symbol to them, and one we should not allow. Its a slap in the face to all those who lost their lives that day.

    It is if you believe that Islam attacked us on 9/11. You don’t really believe that, do you? If you do, then you certainly believe that Christians attacked Iraq in March 2003.

    I can’t believe they aren’t being sensitive to the families.

    Like the Muslims who also lost family members on 9/11…One question for you, Olive. Are you going to demand the Pentagon remove the mosque currently residing within the “hallowed” grounds of the Pentagon?

    Comment by Dan — August 19, 2010 @ 6:35 am

  54. “What makes ground hallowed?”

    Answer: The violent deaths of a couple thousand people. See Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.

    Comment by John Mansfield — August 19, 2010 @ 8:44 am

  55. John Mansfield,

    well then Iraq is a pretty hallowed ground for all the innocent people we killed there. We ought to be sensitive to those Iraqis who lost loved ones at our weapons by leaving Iraq…

    Comment by Dan — August 19, 2010 @ 11:29 am

  56. Howard Dean speaks some sense. There should be room here for exploring compromise.

    http://www.salon.com/news/ground_zero_mosque/index.html?story=/opinion/feature/2010/08/19/dean_response

    Comment by Protiv — August 19, 2010 @ 3:56 pm

  57. I’m on the side of those who are puzzled (if not saddened) to see fellow Mormons voicing opposition to the building of the Islamic Center near Ground Zero. I think we members of the Church should be especially sensitive about this issue, given our own experiences regarding buildings and public opposition. The building is only offensive to those who believe Islam as a whole is to blame for the fallen towers, or those who don’t believe Muslims (especially American Muslims) were negatively impacted by 9/11 (which is completely untrue, of course).

    On the other hand, I think the the folks constructing the Center need to launch some sort of PR campaign to try and get their message out there, to respond to some of the rhetoric being spread by anti-Islamists, to quell the fear or outrage, to try to spread understanding. They need to do a better job of answering to a misinformed public opinion, imo.

    Comment by BHodges — August 19, 2010 @ 5:03 pm

  58. Kent that would make an interesting article. I hope you write it. I confess I’ve always held to the “bigoted” view of protestors.

    Dan, I heard the last combat brigade left Iraq today, coincidentally.

    Comment by Clark — August 19, 2010 @ 5:50 pm

  59. The idea that there is some monolithic, unified thing called “Islam” is false.

    Comment by SC Taysom — August 19, 2010 @ 7:02 pm

  60. On the connection between this mosque and Mountain Meadows.
    http://althouse.blogspot.com/2010/08/firedoglake-deploys-mockery-of-mormons.html

    Comment by Protiv — August 19, 2010 @ 11:00 pm

  61. BHodges,

    Ironically, this particular imam HAS been doing everything he can to bridge the divide. This particular imam has worked with the Bush administration and the FBI over numerous issues, including bridging divides. I shared this over on Times and Seasons, but it seems pretty apropos here too. From the New York Times in June:

    But just 20 minutes earlier, as Bill Finnegan stood at the microphone, came the meeting’s single moment of hushed silence. Mr. Finnegan said he was a Marine lance corporal, home from Afghanistan, where he had worked as a mediator with warring tribes.
    After the sustained standing ovation that followed his introduction, he turned to the Muslims on the panel: “My question to you is, will you work to form a cohesive bond with the people of this community?” The men said yes.
    Then he turned to the crowd. “And will you work to form a cohesive bond with these people — your new neighbors?”
    The crowd erupted in boos. “No!” someone shouted.

    It’s painfully clear that the problem isn’t that he hasn’t attempted to reach out, but that those he is reaching out to refuse to reach back.

    Comment by Dan — August 19, 2010 @ 11:15 pm

  62. Dan, I’m talking about a PR blitz about the proposed Center itself. I’m familiar with some of the work the imam has done since 9/11 to promote peace and understanding. In regards to the Center, though, I think more could be done. Not that it will convince all (or perhaps even many) but it’s worth a shot.

    Comment by BHodges — August 20, 2010 @ 12:34 am

  63. PS- Does that blogger thing mrm Mormon Coffee folks are Mormon?

    Comment by BHodges — August 20, 2010 @ 12:36 am

  64. BHodges,

    Take it from his perspective. He’s resided in lower Manhattan for decades, has had Muslims come to their current mosque for decades in lower Manhattan. He’s found a place available (a very hard feat in lower Manhattan). Why exactly should that have any national implications? It had NO national implications until a certain former vice president nominee and a former House majority leader made it so. Now he has to bend to their demagoguery?

    Comment by Dan — August 20, 2010 @ 5:53 am

  65. Dan –
    You ascribe way too much power to Palin and Gingrich. No amount of demagoguery from those two could make 70% of Americans oppose the mosque. This became a national issue because people feel strongly about 9/11, not because of anything said by out of power politicians on twitter.

    Comment by Protiv — August 20, 2010 @ 9:16 am

  66. Dan, no matter what put the issue on the public radar (and from what I understand it was some anti-Islam blogger who thinks “JihadWatch” is a reliable source, it then spread through various news organizations as a hot new story even though it had earlier been reported in a positive way) the issue is on the table. The opinion polls, for what they’re worth, show that many Americans still equate 9/11 with Islam generally. I think this presents an opportunity for the imam and his allies (for lack of a better term) to present their message of peace and tolerance more widely than before.

    Comment by BHodges — August 20, 2010 @ 9:19 am

  67. Gauging civil rights via opinion polls is generally a bad idea, imo.

    Comment by SC Taysom — August 20, 2010 @ 9:26 am

  68. Sorry, I should have finished my argument.

    I’m saddened that self-appointed champions of understanding, tolerance, and pluralism in this thread have been so eager to write off the motivations and feelings of the 70% of Americans who feel this mosque is insensitive. As I said earlier, at the root of tolerance is disagreement. Anyone who says they support tolerance must then embrace disagreement.
    More concretely, writing off opposition to this mosque as ignorant following of demagoguery from Sarah Palin seems to me to be a manifestation of the same intolerance you despise. Instead of writing off people, whether they be Muslim or conservative, the world would be a much better place if we strove to understand them.

    Comment by Protiv — August 20, 2010 @ 9:32 am

  69. Protiv–

    I totally agree that we need further “understanding” and that conservatives and Muslims (along with the “self-appointed champions of understand”–I think you mean the folks here like me who came down hard on you for equating Muslim with terrorism) all need a place at the table. But at this table, we can call people out for conflation of acts of hate with a religion writ large.

    I’m certainly not writing off the concerns of 70% of Americans who are concerned with this mosque. I’m just using the First Amendment right I have to say that their concerns are misplaced and ignorant (After all the folks behind this culture center are Sufis, and thus considered infidels, worthy of the same violence as White American Christians, by the radical Sunnis of which we are most afraid). And they have the right to say that I’m naive.

    So Protiv, I write this sincerely, stay at this “virtual” table, but also be ready to have folks be critical of your assumptions, as I expect you to be critical of mine.

    I believe that when all is said and done, this cultural center/mosque will in fact be a space, a physical space where folks from all different walks of life can come to better understanding of the “other”. And in this case, wouldn’t you and I thus find ourselves in agreement?

    Comment by Max — August 20, 2010 @ 10:07 am

  70. SC, I agree. You’ll find that almost every critical statement carries the caveat that “I know they have the right to build there, but I am saying it is insensitive and hurts people, so they should reconsider.” One person painted the Center as a deliberate “in your face to Americans,” the builders are “hiding” behind the constitution just to say “look what we can do.” It’s a strong rhetorical attempt to shift the subject into the emotional, not constitutional realm. Of course, I think it completely misrepresents the intent of those building the Center, but now that public opinion is so obviously off, I hope they do something to respond to the charges publicly.

    Comment by BHodges — August 20, 2010 @ 10:13 am

  71. Just some anecdotal evidence that people tend to believe what they want to believe, in spite of all the available evidence came yesterday on NPR. In a recent poll, the number of US citizens who believe President Obama ia a Muslim has climbed from 11% in 2008 during the election, to 18% currently. There has also been a corresponding decline in the percentage of US citizens who believe the president is a Christian during the same period, despite the publicity surrounding the Reverend Wright issue and other factors.

    The point is that some have a tendency to look for evidence to support what they already believe, and then disregard conflicting facts as propaganda and media bias. It is not an exclusive trait of the right, but it does seem to be a bit more pronounced among social conservatives. It seems to me that we sometimes feel we have a constitutional right to justify our emotions, rather than engage in reasoned dialogue.

    I think that is the kind of “ignorance” we are talking about here.

    Comment by kevinf — August 20, 2010 @ 11:21 am

  72. Kevinf, in these news stories about that poll, it has never been spelled out why it’s a bad thing that some people don’t know much about the President’s religion. What is so terible about mistakingly thinking someone is Muslim?

    Comment by John Mansfield — August 20, 2010 @ 11:43 am

  73. “Gauging civil rights via opinion polls is generally a bad idea, imo.”

    Come now, Madison aaid that mob rule was the key to liberty. Oh…wait…it undermines liberty. I get it confused sometimes.

    Comment by Chris H. — August 20, 2010 @ 12:22 pm

  74. John, how about letting their ignorance lead them to claim that the President is lying when he says he is not a Muslim? How about that so many people who claim he is a Muslim base their “knowledge” on the “fact” that a child’s father “always” determines his “real” religion? How about that in the minds of these people “Muslim” equates to “un-American terrorist bent on destroying America”?

    How about just that this “mistake” has been corrected so very, very often, and yet hoards of Americans — who vote {shudder} — haven’t got, or refuse to get, it right?

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — August 20, 2010 @ 12:40 pm

  75. Test

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — August 20, 2010 @ 12:41 pm

  76. Protiv,

    You ascribe way too much power to Palin and Gingrich. No amount of demagoguery from those two could make 70% of Americans oppose the mosque

    I don’t ascribe too much power to them. Do you see how often they are on the TV or the internet blaring away their demagoguery? Do you even remember the “death panels” debacle from last August? Who led that ugly incident? Sarah Palin, of course. And somehow Americans actually believed her. I am constantly befuddled by this, as I ascribe America to be a little more educated and reasoned than she ends up being. The whole purpose for Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich to do their dirty work is to tie it to the president, whether peripherally or by baiting him to respond, and thus bring him down. You can see this strategy in everything over the past year and a half. Whether the “new Black Panthers” or “Shirley Sherrod” or “Professor Gates” or “ACORN”. Pick your poison. All of these are examples of attempts to latch on to American fear and attach that to the president. They think they’ve found the perfect boogeyman: an Islamic mosque in the heart of an Islamic attack in the heart of American capitalism. Do you wonder why Sarah Palin notes that it is a stab in the heart of the victims of 9/11 for the mosque to be built there? It’s because she is playing on American fears of the Islamic enemy. I don’t ascribe too much power to Palin and Gingrich. Remember, these two may well be the Republican candidates for president in 2012. They are the current leaders. For them to act and say things like this ought to be condemned by reasoned Americans. But I can see I am in a losing battle here, as we get Harry Reid and Howard Dean both acting like stereotypical Democratic chickens in the face of Republican blustering. It’s like 2002 repeated all over again over the war in Iraq. When will we get back to reasonable debates? I foresee never, personally.

    Comment by Dan — August 20, 2010 @ 12:48 pm

  77. BHodges,

    I think this presents an opportunity for the imam and his allies (for lack of a better term) to present their message of peace and tolerance more widely than before.

    It’s really ironic because his wife was on Laura Ingraham’s show on Fox News in December 2009 and Laura Ingraham had no problem with it then.

    INGRAHAM: I can’t find many people who really have a problem with it. [Mayor] Bloomberg is for it. Rabbis are saying they don’t have a problem with it. […] I like what you’re trying to do and Ms. Khan we appreciate it and come on my radio show some time.

    KHAN: Yeah, we need the support of people like you seriously.

    INGRAHAM: Alright, you take care.

    Ms. Kahn is the wife of the imam and a co-founder of Park51. So if Laura Ingraham would have had a problem with it, she had the right person on her show to tell her like it was.

    So what happened? Who made it a national issue? Who made it such an emotional issue? It wasn’t the imam. It wasn’t the president. It wasn’t Muslims. It wasn’t New Yorkers. It was a woman named Pamela Geller and her allies in News Corp. News Corp, which just gave $1 million dollars to the Republican Party to elect Republicans to office. If you follow the money, as Glenn Beck likes to say on his show, you can see where the real origins of all our problems today lie.

    Comment by Dan — August 20, 2010 @ 12:57 pm

  78. John Mansfield, #72, I think Ardis answered better than I will, but the issue for me is not that it is a bad thing not to know much about a President’s religious preferences, but that the percentage of people who are just plain wrong on Pres. Obama’s religion has almost doubled.

    It’s a willful ignorance, that doesn’t want correction, and denies reality. That is what disturbs me. I can understand that a percentage of us just won’t know or care, but something is terribly wrong when that number grows substantially, fueled by what I can only assume is fear, and a certain amount of latent bigotry.

    I’d like to see poll numbers that tell us whether or not a candidate’s (or president’s) religious preference really matters. There is no way to know, but I suspect that the vast majority of those who believe the President is a Muslim view that as a bad thing. For those folks, the distinction between Sunni, Shiite, Sufi, or any one of the other various factions of Islam are totally lost to them.

    To me, that spells bigotry and ignorance. We saw how Huckabee, on the eve of the Iowa caucuses, played on both of those with his “casually” rendered question about Mormon theology to cast aspersions on Mitt Romney. It’s out there, and we see that there are many individuals in both politics and the media that are willing to play that card when they think they can gain advantage with it. I predict that if the 2012 primaries find Romney, Palin, and Gingrich all vying for the nomination, that someone will find a way to drive a wedge with Romney’s religion again. They’ve seen it work before. Yes, I really am that cynical, at least about issues like this.

    Comment by kevinf — August 20, 2010 @ 1:30 pm

  79. Ardis, the poll respondents aren’t claiming anything. Pew called them (not the other way around) and asked them what they believe the President’s religion is.

    Comment by John Mansfield — August 20, 2010 @ 1:37 pm

  80. Kevinf, what do you mean by “just plain wrong.” If you asked me Ronald Reagan’s religion, I would suppose he was probably a Protestant of some kind because that’s a pretty could guess an American of his era, and if he’d been a Catholic or Jew or something else, I likely would have heard that at some point. But I really have no idea of Reagan’s religion.

    President Obama’s origins make Muslim a valid guess as to his religion. Can any of us name a single other person with a name like Barack Hussein who isn’t Muslim?

    Comment by John Mansfield — August 20, 2010 @ 1:52 pm

  81. John, what I mean by “just plain wrong” is that the President is NOT muslim. Those who think that he is, are, well, I can’t think of any other way of saying but just plain wrong.

    There was enough exposure of his stated religious preference during the whole blow up involving the Reverend Wright and what appeared to be (and may actually be, I have no opinion) racially motivated sermons.

    As to the name thing, that’s silly, and it isn’t something he had any control over, just as my wife’s ancestor named Levi was not Jewish but LDS. I have a nephew who married a Chinese girl, and they have given at least one of their two children a Chinese name that unfortunately I can’t spell, but he is still LDS, not communist or Confucian. I also have a close friend whose father is Muslim (or as he refers to it, Jack-Muslim) and mother is LDS, whose first and middle name is Ali Reza, an obviously Muslim sounding name, but that didn’t prevent him from being baptized, ordained, and married in the temple.

    What you claim as a valid guess really isn’t valid if it’s just plain wrong. It’s a projection made based on superficial information by the hearer without any real evidence to back it up. And that is what I mean by ignorance.

    Comment by kevinf — August 20, 2010 @ 2:15 pm

  82. Using superficial information to make a better-than-random guess about something you don’t really care about isn’t just plain wrong. Refusing to generalize that apples are red because—wait a minute, there are green apples and yellow apples too, and maybe purple and orange somewhere for all I know (someone could have dyed them), and the world is so complex and confusing—is, on a percentage basis, closer to just plain wrong.

    Comment by John Mansfield — August 20, 2010 @ 2:54 pm

  83. Regarding the Rev. Wright, that was much more of a racial issue and a religious issue. Candidate Obama’s statements and famous speech at that time did not address religious belief. Someone not following that case carefully could have easily come away with the impression that Jeremiah Wright had more connection to Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam than to the United Church of Christ. Those who observed a little more carefully will have remembered that Barack Obama separated from Rev. Wright’s church. Being knowledgable about Obama, they would remember that Obama did not embrace Christianity until well into adulthood, and Wright’s Trinity United Church of Christ was the only congregation he had ever been a member of, and if they gave it any thought at all, such as when a polling firm calls them up, President Obama’s current religion might be a bit of a mystery to them.

    Comment by John Mansfield — August 20, 2010 @ 3:09 pm

  84. I think, John, We’re beating a dead horse here. Not all red fruits are apples, nor all all Muslim sounding names attached to Muslims. And it’s a bit of a leap of convoluted logic to go from “gee, I don’t know his religion”, to “I think he must be Muslim”.

    This has all gotten a bit far off the track, but I think it shows that in spite of our own history of being misunderstood at best, and violently persecuted at the worst of times, we as LDS members should be more sensitivite to the religious claims and beliefs of others, and less prone to jump to unwarranted conclusions. The Islamic congregation of lower Manhattan, as has been pointed out, are Sufi, which certainly qualifies as either a green or yellow apple.

    Something far more egregious than building an Islamic community center two blocks from the WTC, in my opinion, is the activities of this seriously misguided Christian.

    Comment by kevinf — August 20, 2010 @ 3:25 pm

  85. Dan (#77): I’m well aware of the reversal of certain media outlets on this particular issue. The imam and the Center supporters can’t just hope those old stories will carry the day because they won’t. The thrust of the story has shifted and I think it would be wise to be most proactive in countering the fear-mongering and attempts to shame going on right now. As Someone else pointed out, plenty of people will never get it through their thick skulls no matter what. But there are those who are willing to listen, and if they can hear more accurate information from the source I think it would help quite a bit. (And I think it’s generally the right thing to do.)

    Comment by BHodges — August 20, 2010 @ 3:43 pm

  86. BHodges,

    Ironically, the imam is currently on assignment for the US Department of State to Islamic countries in the Middle East touting America’s…er…tolerance and acceptance of Islamic peoples…

    Comment by Dan — August 20, 2010 @ 3:49 pm

  87. Speaking of, however, BHodges, how exactly does one counter blusterous, false, demagoguing? Particularly if you wish to retain the high road…

    Comment by Dan — August 20, 2010 @ 3:53 pm

  88. Dan, give me a little credit. I’m familiar with his activities. But I’m pretty sure he’s not the only one who can make a response to all the uproar. His wife, for instance, has been on news programs speaking in behalf of the project in the past.

    Comment by BHodges — August 20, 2010 @ 4:04 pm

  89. BHodges,

    Forgive me. I was meaning that he is literally at this moment in time in the Middle East. :)

    As for his wife or anyone else, I ask again, how exactly does someone respond to an angry mob?

    Comment by Dan — August 20, 2010 @ 4:24 pm

  90. John Mansfield, I had an earlier comment that is probably in moderation, due to a link to the wacko pastor in Florida that is planning on a big public Quran book burning binge on 9/11. It also included a bunch of non-coherent stuff about red fruits, green apples, and how Sufis must be yellow apples, so perhaps it is all for the better.

    Bottom line is that as a church we have been on the receiving end of a lot of misrepresentation, persecution, and violence, and ought to be among the most sensitive to these issues of religious tolerance and acceptance of diversity, which is what I really most wanted to say.

    Comment by kevinf — August 20, 2010 @ 4:57 pm

  91. Dan, looks like some sort of response is in the works:

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100820/ap_on_re_mi_ea/nyc_mosque_imam

    Comment by BHodges — August 20, 2010 @ 5:05 pm

  92. “Bottom line is that as a church we have been on the receiving end of a lot of misrepresentation, persecution, and violence, and ought to be among the most sensitive to these issues of religious tolerance and acceptance of diversity…”

    You would think…

    If I was looking for a friend of tolerance and diversity, I would not likely look for a Mormon. There are a few exception…most of whom are on this thread.

    Comment by Chris H. — August 20, 2010 @ 5:09 pm

  93. What I want to say is that a bunch of people responding “Oh, I thought Barack Obama was a Muslim.” shouldn’t be considered offensive or a sign of intolerance.

    Comment by John Mansfield — August 20, 2010 @ 5:49 pm

  94. John, I’ve got my dead horse beater back out again, you pushed me into it. Not necessarily offensive or intolerant, but ignorant, yes.

    Chris H, and regrettably, true. We just don’t like those apples anything other than red, it appears.

    Comment by kevinf — August 20, 2010 @ 5:57 pm

  95. What I want to say is that a bunch of people responding “Oh, I thought Barack Obama was a Muslim.” shouldn’t be considered offensive or a sign of intolerance.

    Yes it should, because something is driving that number up.

    Comment by Researcher — August 20, 2010 @ 5:59 pm

  96. People who say that really are just say “I do not like Pres. Obama.” They are using it as a slur.

    Comment by Chris H. — August 20, 2010 @ 6:14 pm

  97. What I want to say is that a bunch of people responding “Oh, I thought Barack Obama was a Muslim.” shouldn’t be considered offensive or a sign of intolerance.

    Why not? “Barack” is not an especially Muslim name — chances are that anybody familiar with it before they ever heard of the Senator from Illinois were familiar with it from the Bible. The Bible used by Christians.

    Anyone who wrongly thinks Obama is a Muslim, however innocently they may have formed that belief, has that belief solely because anti-Obama fear- and hate-mongers have sedulously spread the idea that he is Muslim. There is nothing innocent about that. Instead of defending the ignorant (willfully ignorant?) people who answered that survey question, John, you should be appalled at the success of those who have spread such a lie, and wonder exactly what is behind their desire to spread that lie.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — August 20, 2010 @ 6:54 pm

  98. Ardis,

    Why not? “Barack” is not an especially Muslim name — chances are that anybody familiar with it before they ever heard of the Senator from Illinois were familiar with it from the Bible. The Bible used by Christians.

    Exactly. It seems Americans have forgotten Ehud Barak, former prime minister of Israel and current defense minister, I think.

    Comment by Dan — August 20, 2010 @ 7:49 pm

  99. 23 — or a Nunnery …

    If it were, what kinds of activities should be permitted/disallowed, out of respect for those who died that day? What about speculation at the American Stock Exchange? Or adulterous liaisons at the Millenium Hilton? What about the sale of inedible (and obesity inducing) food at McDonalds and Dunkin’ Donuts? Or the topless dancing at the Pussycat Lounge?

    My wife’s thoughts ;)

    http://whoreofalltheearth.blogspot.com/2010/08/friday-funny-jon-stewart-wish-you.html

    Comment by Stephen M (Ethesis) — August 21, 2010 @ 9:25 am

  100. Brak, space cat from the show “super ghost”

    Comment by SUNNofaB.C.Rich — August 22, 2010 @ 8:39 pm

  101. I’d rather see the building in question used as a hotel for cats, than a mosque.

    Comment by SUNNofaB.C.Rich — August 22, 2010 @ 10:31 pm

  102. Thanks for your insightful and thoughtful contribution to the conversation, SUNNofaB.C.Rich. Now please take your bigoted and decidedly not funny trolling elsewhere.

    Comment by Christopher — August 22, 2010 @ 11:08 pm

  103. The are between 40 to 50 thousand mosques in the United States. Over 200 of these are in Manhattan alone. Not wanting a mosque built on Ground Zero is absolutly NOT being intolerant or hateful. All that is being asked is for sensivity to the thousands of families of all religions who lost loved ones there. Do you really not think that those responsible for the slaughter of innocents will rejoice in the streets as a victory over us once again. How will the survivors,scarred for the rest of their lives be expected to accept this? Has there been ANY discussion that part of the mosque would HONOR the dead and denounce the slaughter? I’ve not heard any. Where is the “sensitivity” that the rest of us are expected to have? The only persons required to be “sensitive” are middle aged white male Christians. Everyone else can say or do anything and they are excercising free speech. I disagree..and though I am a thoughtful caring person, I am now simply “hateful.”

    Comment by Barry Lee — August 23, 2010 @ 6:42 pm

  104. Yep, Barry, you are.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — August 23, 2010 @ 7:05 pm

  105. Barry,

    Not wanting a mosque built on Ground Zero is absolutly NOT being intolerant or hateful

    Good thing it isn’t being built “on” Ground Zero.

    All that is being asked is for sensivity to the thousands of families of all religions who lost loved ones there.

    Including New York Muslims…

    Do you really not think that those responsible for the slaughter of innocents will rejoice in the streets as a victory over us once again.

    Nope.

    How will the survivors,scarred for the rest of their lives be expected to accept this?

    As they are expected to accept anything in life. Pick yourself up and move on. Linger on the tragedy and you ruin your life because you cannot move on. Your life is stuck in the moment of the fateful event and you cannot progress. For any Mormon, this makes absolutely no sense seeing how we believe in eternal progression. We progress from events that have scarred us, not keep returning back to the scene of the crime for some post-traumatic stress disorder repeating.

    Has there been ANY discussion that part of the mosque would HONOR the dead and denounce the slaughter?

    I don’t know. Have you bothered to actually check?

    Where is the “sensitivity” that the rest of us are expected to have?

    Sensitivity to what? Please clarify.

    The only persons required to be “sensitive” are middle aged white male Christians.

    White males are the weakest species on the planet, judging on how often they complain of the injustices they have to constantly deal with. And I say this as a middle aged white male Christian.

    I disagree..and though I am a thoughtful caring person, I am now simply “hateful.”

    You’re not hateful. But you certainly have a terrible distrust of any and all Muslims. It shows in your comment no matter how much you try and meander around what you really are saying.

    Comment by Dan — August 23, 2010 @ 7:39 pm

  106. Barry:
    There are about 1200 mosques in the US.

    See the following cite for an interesting demographic breakdown of American Muslims:
    http://www.allied-media.com/AM/

    Comment by Max — August 23, 2010 @ 9:45 pm

  107. Hey, Barry; as you can’t be bothered to tell the difference between the Shi’a and Sunni Muslims you do, actually, count as hateful. Congrats.

    Comment by djinn — August 23, 2010 @ 10:14 pm

  108. I am shocked to see so many Mormons in support of building a mosque at ground zero. This is nothing like the persecution that the we went through in our history. America isn’t against them building a mosque and neither am I. But I sure as hell do not want to see it build atop the same spot where their terrorist’s made an attach on our country. There is much more too this than religion. The Shea law is all encompassing and they do want to take over America and no they are not tolerant of Christianity. So why would you be ok with that when they don’t allow you to practice what you believe?

    Comment by Rob — August 25, 2010 @ 10:36 pm

  109. Rob,

    But I sure as hell do not want to see it build atop the same spot where their terrorist’s made an attach on our country.

    It’s a good thing then that this mosque will not be built on the same spot where their terrorists made an attachment or even an attack.

    The Shea law is all encompassing and they do want to take over America and no they are not tolerant of Christianity.

    I’m unfamiliar with Shea Law. When I google it, I get references to private law firms named after Shea.

    So why would you be ok with that when they don’t allow you to practice what you believe?

    I don’t know which Muslims you are referring to here.

    Comment by Dan — August 25, 2010 @ 10:58 pm

  110. Do you really not think that those responsible for the slaughter of innocents will rejoice in the streets as a victory over us once again.

    No, I don’t think that at all. Radical Islamists don’t see the West as a desirable place for the expansion of their type of Islam, rather, they view the West as the “far enemy.” The “near enemy” are the (in their view) corrupt regimes in Muslim countries who cooperate with the West in business dealings, etc.

    The extremists don’t support assimilation or reconciliation with Western powers in any form. The proposed Center wouldn’t be seen by extremists and terrorists as a victory or rallying point at all, but more like a “compromise” made by apostate Muslims, *infidels* and traitors as far as they’re concerned. The site isn’t a banner to the extremist cause, it’s in opposition to that cause, and they know it. It’s ignorant Americans who don’t understand international Islam who don’t get it.

    Comment by BHodges — August 26, 2010 @ 5:12 pm

  111. But I sure as hell do not want to see it build atop the same spot where their terrorist’s made an attach on our country. There is much more too this than religion. The Shea law is all encompassing and they do want to take over America and no they are not tolerant of Christianity. So why would you be ok with that when they don’t allow you to practice what you believe?

    This calls for the “Blake Ostler response.”

    http://tinyurl.com/2dhkh9o

    Comment by BHodges — August 26, 2010 @ 5:21 pm

  112. BH: that is a handy audio link to have.

    Comment by Ben — August 26, 2010 @ 5:31 pm

  113. It’s worth noting here that a Mormons in support of the proposed community center and mosque have started a facebook group:

    http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=145427868822520&ref=ts

    Comment by Christopher — August 27, 2010 @ 2:04 pm

  114. Just a couple of thoughts as I am developing a post touching on the mosque in Manhattan and the JI’s reaction to it. I wonder if the Mormon reaction to Muslims and Islam is informed by the fact that we have few missionaries in areas where these religions predominate. Mormon opinion of the Japanese during World War II was tempered slightly by the fact that the Prophet Heber J. Grant and Senator Elbert Thomas had both served missions to the islands.I know some of my own sympathy toward illegal immigrants comes from my two years in Peru. Would missionary service among Muslims temper anti-Islamic feelings among church members?

    Comment by Joel — August 28, 2010 @ 8:40 am

  115. That’s an interesting thought, Joel. I know that an old roommate of mine who served in southern Spain interacted with quite a few Muslims during his time there, but I have no clue whether it affected his feelings on issues like this.

    Is your general opinion that others who have served in Latin America are like you in being more sympathetic to illegal immigrants in the U.S.? I only have my own anecdotal evidence to share, but there doesn’t seem to be a consensus one way or another. My time spent serving among illegal immigrants in Arizona certainly affected/affects my own feelings, but I had a roommate in college who served in Latin America and maintained a staunchly anti-immigrant point of view.

    Comment by Christopher — August 28, 2010 @ 11:22 am

  116. I think part of the question when it comes to missionary interaction and later feelings toward others has to do with the quality of the interaction. Too often, missionaries don’t really interact with the people they serve among on a cultural level. It’s almost as if they operate in some kind of cultural dry suit. It’s always struck me as very strange.

    Comment by SC Taysom — August 28, 2010 @ 11:58 am

  117. I think some issues need to be clarified about this issue. First, it certainly isn’t a 1st amendment, nor even a constitutional issue. Congress is not trying to stop this mosque from being built. When the Constitution was adopted many states had established churches and religous tests for office and voting. The idea that the Constitution grants the right of anyone to build a church anywhere is absurd.

    Second, this is a matter for New Yorkers. That somehow those outside the area feel that they deserve a say in this matter is ridiculous. As others have pointed out–what is being built on that site doesn’t seem to support any argument that the site is considered hallowed.

    Third, that Mormons, and other Christians would oppose this particular site while welcoming one elsewhere amongst us displays an alarming ignorance to the nature of Islam. Islam is not a religion in the sense that we in the west understand the word. From its heretical founding, Islam has been at war with Christianity and Judaism. This by no means makes Muslims inherently evil or gives license to mistreat them(let alone slaughter them in their own countries) but does show the foolishness of those who would use the Constitution to support an ideology that seeks its (the Constitution’s) destruction.

    I don’t think anyone in the church really looks to New York City to find any guide to building Zion. This matter is no different. Just be thankful you don’t have to live there and they aren’t able to dictate how you do live.

    Comment by Kevin Rudd — August 29, 2010 @ 12:07 am

  118. Kevin,

    I don’t think anyone in the church really looks to New York City to find any guide to building Zion. This matter is no different. Just be thankful you don’t have to live there and they aren’t able to dictate how you do live.

    I’m a little bit confused by your last paragraph. What’s wrong with New York City?

    Comment by Dan — August 29, 2010 @ 12:26 am

  119. Kevin,

    an alarming ignorance to the nature of Islam. Islam is not a religion in the sense that we in the west understand the word.

    I’m a little bit confused by your third paragraph. Where does the Constitution define the nature of religion and designate which religions may have free exercise and which may not?

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — August 29, 2010 @ 6:38 am

  120. Islam is not a religion in the sense that we in the west understand the word. From its heretical founding, Islam has been at war with Christianity and Judaism.

    Please enlighten us by defining religion.

    Comment by SC Taysom — August 29, 2010 @ 9:17 am

  121. @119

    Quite simply, the First Amendment prohibits Congress, not the people, from passing laws preventing the free exercise of religion. As I wrote, many states had established churches and religious tests for holding office and voting when the Constitution was ratified. If you want to make it a constitutional issue it would be the 14th Amendment that would make it so.

    Comment by Kevin Rudd — August 29, 2010 @ 9:59 am

  122. hey, what’s wrong with New York City?!?!?!

    Comment by Dan — August 29, 2010 @ 10:50 am

  123. So … by your response, Kevin, I conclude that you intend to say that the 14th Amendment is the part of the Constitution that defines the nature of religion and designates which religions may be freely exercised and which may not.

    But as I read the 14th Amendment, I find these sections only:

    Section 1 defines citizenship and says that no privileges or immunities of citizens can be abridged without due process. (You can’t possibly mean this section, can you, unless you can cite me to the due process by which Muslim citizens have been deprived of their right to practice their religion?)

    Section 2 defines how representatives are apportioned.

    Section 3 disables (and provides a remedy) for persons who have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the U.S.

    Section 4 has to do with public debt.

    Section 5 gives Congress power to enforce the amendment.

    Gee whiz, I guess I’m really, really stupid, because I can’t find any definition of religion anywhere in there, or any specification of who can practice their religion freely and who cannot.

    Unless, of course, you’re twisting Section 3 to claim that all Muslims by definition are engaged in insurrection and rebellion. I hate to assume that’s what you mean, because that would make you an ignorant fool and a blatant bigot and not much of an American — and certainly not a Mormon.

    But you can speak for yourself, I’m sure.

    I repeat, where in the Constitution — or in any other document that we would generally consider binding or worthy of support — is religion defined in such a way as to exclude Islam? And who or what determines what is a real religion, and who is allowed to practice it, and who is barred from the free exercise of religion in the U.S.?

    A coherent answer, please. Or shut up.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — August 29, 2010 @ 1:45 pm

  124. Wow.

    I don’t think anyone in the church really looks to New York City to find any guide to building Zion.

    I’ve only been to New York once myself, unless you include driving through Staten Island, so I can’t take any personal offense to that statement, but I’m sure many good members of the church in New York would beg to differ.

    (Last time I noticed there were a number of stakes there.)

    And, Kevin, I’m guessing from your comments that you’ve never met a Muslim. I’m sorry for you. I’ve had a number of Muslim friends and knew a lot of Muslims on my mission. Delightful, hospitable people.

    Comment by Researcher — August 29, 2010 @ 4:00 pm

  125. @120

    When we think of religion in the west we are usually referring to something that can coexist with the state. Render unto Caesar…. Of course there have been conflicts and bloodshed in the name of Christianity, but it is not inherent to the religion that church and state be one and the same. Islam is different. It is an all encompassing ideology. It cannot ultimately coexist with Western Civilization.

    In Islam, there is Dar Al Islam and Dar Al Harb (house of peace and house of war). Or, in other words, areas where sharia rules and areas where sharia doesn’t yet rule. Muslims are subject to secular government only when they don’t have enough power to institute sharia.

    History has provided us with abundant examples of what happens when Islam conquers parts of western civilization.

    Again this is no excuse to hate or injure anyone. But to welcome the expansion of Islam in the United States under the belief that we are furthering tolerance is quite silly. At least the capitalist was going to receive a profit for the rope he was to sell the communist.

    Comment by Kevin Rudd — August 29, 2010 @ 4:35 pm

  126. No offense, but I think you have a lot to learn about Islam in particular and the dynamics of religion in general.

    Comment by SC Taysom — August 29, 2010 @ 4:39 pm

  127. @125

    This is precisely what I’m trying to get at. I have no quarrel with individual Muslims. If I had my way we wouldn’t be slaughtering them by the thousands in their homelands. But I also look at my homeland, the United States, and what is good about it and realize that welcoming a religion here that is inherently hostile to the values that I hold dear is ridiculous. Let them do what they wish in their lands, but please allow us to try to maintain our constitutional republic here.

    Comment by Kevin Rudd — August 29, 2010 @ 4:52 pm

  128. Kevin,

    It cannot ultimately coexist with Western Civilization.

    Yeah, that’s what Christianists believed before Enlightenment and even post-Enlightenment. Or have you forgotten how political the Pope had gotten?

    History has provided us with abundant examples of what happens when Islam conquers parts of western civilization.

    well what I recall from history is that Spain flourished just fine under Muslim control. I don’t know which examples you are thinking about.

    Let them do what they wish in their lands, but please allow us to try to maintain our constitutional republic here.

    Boy, Kevin, you really think our constitutional republic is weak if it can be threatened by such a small percentage of Muslims. Do you even know how many Muslims are currently in the United States? Do you even know what level of influence they have over law and order? You really don’t think very highly of your own culture, law, or country if you are so afraid of letting a bunch of Muslims in to experience your country, culture and law and judge for themselves what is better.

    Comment by Dan — August 29, 2010 @ 5:06 pm

  129. I suppose this renders my marriage in the Manhattan Temple obsolete?

    More seriously, Kevin, what others have repeatedly told you is the truth. You’re dealing with several individuals on this thread who are scholars of religion with advanced degrees and years of research. SC Taysom, for example, teaches courses at the university level on the nature and meaning of religion throughout history. This does not necessarily mean any of them is more intelligent that you, but it is pretty good evidence that their understanding–based on both intense study and real world experience–of Islam is much deeper and more nuanced than your own.

    Unfortunately, each additional comment only further exposes your rather shallow understanding of Islam, religion in general, and United States history as well. For the record, Muslims have lived in the Americas almost as long as Euro-Christians have, and based on both their long-standing residency here and the fundamental principles that undergird the principle of religious freedom in this country, they have as much right to be here as you do.

    Comment by Christopher — August 29, 2010 @ 5:10 pm

  130. About New York City…

    I lived in West Los Angeles for many years. A temple? Yes. A few Stakes? Yes. Many wonderful members? Yes. Politicians who would rather live in Sodom than Salt Lake City? Yes. A majority that would just as soon see your religion and all evidences of it vanish from the face of the Earth? No question about it. Sure we can make do as LDS in a variety of environments, but let’s not kid ourselves about the condition of these big cities.

    Comment by Kevin Rudd — August 29, 2010 @ 5:11 pm

  131. Taysom, perhaps you could recommend an accessible introductory text on religion (and perhaps one on Islam, too) to Kevin, in the off-chance that he is interested in rectifying his gross misunderstanding of both?

    Comment by Christopher — August 29, 2010 @ 5:13 pm

  132. Kevin R., what you say might be entirely true of a certain as of late extremely popular (and well funded) fundamentalist strain of Islam. The idea that Islam as a whole cannot return to a Kemalist compatible separation of church and state is not particularly credible though. That was the prevailing state of affairs in most Islamic countries until relatively recently, and eventually the tide will turn in the other direction.

    As an example, it would certainly be possible for Christians and/or Jews to adopt a fundamentalist interpretation of the Old Testament that required an absolute admixture of church and state, and rather barbaric and severe punishments for various crimes aside. Indeed in some times and places Christians and/or Jews have attempted to implement just such regimes, to very limited success. John Calvin’s Geneva is one example, as is Massachusetts of the late 17th century, witch trials, burning at the stake, and all.

    The only realistic question about Islam is when the current fundamentalist fervor will peter out and consensus theological and practical arguments will develop in support of that change. It may be fifty years, it may be five hundred. I don’t know but I would guess closer to the first number.

    Comment by Mark D. — August 29, 2010 @ 7:14 pm

  133. He could start here

    Comment by SC Taysom — August 29, 2010 @ 7:53 pm

  134. Kevin,

    I lived in West Los Angeles for many years. A temple? Yes. A few Stakes? Yes. Many wonderful members? Yes. Politicians who would rather live in Sodom than Salt Lake City? Yes. A majority that would just as soon see your religion and all evidences of it vanish from the face of the Earth? No question about it. Sure we can make do as LDS in a variety of environments, but let’s not kid ourselves about the condition of these big cities.

    First off, New York is NOT Los Angeles. I’m sorry you had a crappy experience in West LA, but West LA ain’t got nothin’ on New York! The condition of these big cities? What exactly are you talking about? And a majority of Americans in LA or NY wanting our religion to never exist? Dunno where you get that, but I’ve not seen evidence of it.

    Comment by Dan — August 29, 2010 @ 8:46 pm

  135. Chris (131): I like Karen Armstrong’s _Islam: A Short History_.

    Comment by Edje Jeter — August 29, 2010 @ 10:18 pm

  136. @135
    Dan,

    My original comment was simply that the mosque affair was a matter for New Yorkers to decide and that judging from past experience I wouldn’t necessarily expect a wise result. If you’re happy in NYC that’s great.

    I didn’t say that I had a bad experience in Los Angeles. Having worked in the city for over twenty years and having also worked in the schools I am aware what it is. I also unfortunately know what it once was. Local politics, education, crime, cultural decadence,that’s what I’m talking about.

    Comment by Kevin Rudd — August 30, 2010 @ 9:10 am

  137. Kevin, why didn’t you tell us that they’d already interviewed you on the subject and all of our efforts are fruitless?

    http://www.theonion.com/articles/man-already-knows-everything-he-needs-to-know-abou,17990/

    Comment by Christopher — August 30, 2010 @ 10:08 am

  138. Kevin, I recommend John L. Esposito’s Islam: The Straight Path. We used it in my politics and Islam class and it was a great read.

    Comment by BHodges — August 30, 2010 @ 10:17 am

  139. @138

    Christopher, my aren’t we smug. It seems you’re quite impressed with some of the other posters on this site but you have added noting substantive to this argument.

    Is the mosque truly a constitutional issue and why?

    Is Islam compatible with a constitutional republic?

    Your posts seem to consist of nothing but ad hominem attacks, and generalizations based on personal feelings. Pretty thin gruel for one so devoted to scholarship.

    For the record the relevant point is not that Muslims have been present in America as long as Euro-Christians but rather, despite their presence, that they had absolutely zero influence on the founding of this nation.

    Comment by Kevin Rudd — August 30, 2010 @ 10:57 am

  140. Kevin,

    For the record the relevant point is not that Muslims have been present in America as long as Euro-Christians but rather, despite their presence, that they had absolutely zero influence on the founding of this nation.

    For the record, Mormons have been present in America for (almost) as long as Euro-Christians [and] rather, despite their presence, that they had absolutely zero influence on the founding of this nation. Just something to consider.

    Is Islam compatible with a constitutional republic?

    yes.

    Is the mosque truly a constitutional issue and why?

    It is protected by the First Amendment and by the LDS Articles of Faith.

    On New York, whether in the past New Yorkers or their mayors have made wrong decisions matter not. Mayor Bloomberg’s opinion is spot on, correct, and the right course to take.

    Comment by Dan — August 30, 2010 @ 11:06 am

  141. “Your posts seem to consist of nothing but ad hominem attacks, and generalizations based on personal feelings. Pretty thin gruel for one so devoted to scholarship.”

    Christopher: I have taught you well. It is a proud day for me. :)

    Comment by Chris H. — August 30, 2010 @ 11:14 am

  142. Why is it that jerks who complain so often about being attacked “ad hominem” seem to have no idea of what that really refers to? We don’t know you, Kevin Rudd; it would be impossible for us to dismiss your arguments because you are who you are, when we don’t know who you are. We dismiss your arguments, rather, because they’re trash.

    Note that referring to you as a jerk is rude, but it is not ad hominem.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — August 30, 2010 @ 12:30 pm

  143. @142

    Dan

    A question. If you believe this issue is a 1st amendment issue, can I safely assume that you reject original intent when interpreting the Constitution?

    You asked for a couple of examples that show Islam is not compatible with Western Civilization. How about every time it has ever come into contact with it from its inception. I’ll spot you Averroes and Hindu decimal point math, and you give me any examples of rational thought, scientific inquiry, human liberty, technology, political theory, philosophy,etc. that have been advanced or expanded on under Islamic rule.

    On the other hand, to this day, there are innumerable examples of these things being eliminated under Islamic rule. Spain flourished under the caliphate as the United States flourished under the Edmunds Act. It was just a certain Church that didn’t seem to do so well during that time. From a Christian and Western Civilization perspective the caliphate was an unmitigated horror.

    Comment by Kevin Rudd — August 30, 2010 @ 1:06 pm

  144. @133

    Mark D.

    With centuries of history, we’re to take Ataturk’s vision, which was a failure in Turkey, as the rule and not the exception concerning Islam?

    Yes, Ataturk wanted the fruits of Western Civilization, and Turkey was geographically in an ideal location at the crossroads of East and West to benefit. But his vision of Turkey as a secular state never penetrated much beyond the military, and Islam reasserted itself.

    This again demonstrates that it is not just a radical strain, but Islam itself, that does not recognize the two realms of church and state and is therefore not compatible with a constitutional republic.

    Comment by Kevin Rudd — August 30, 2010 @ 1:26 pm

  145. you give me any examples of rational thought, scientific inquiry, human liberty, technology, political theory, philosophy,etc. that have been advanced or expanded on under Islamic rule.

    I am stunned by this. If you honestly know nothing about Muslim contributions to Western thought and civilization, then I don’t really know where else this discussion can go. And no, I don’t feel like going through and naming them.

    Comment by SC Taysom — August 30, 2010 @ 1:54 pm

  146. Kevin R: But his vision of Turkey as a secular state never penetrated much beyond the military

    You really ought to get out more. There is an active debate about the still existent restrictions on the hijab in Turkish public schools and universities. Turkey is more secular than we are.

    See here for example.

    Comment by Mark D. — August 30, 2010 @ 2:08 pm

  147. The link I referred to is:

    http://www.islamonline.net/servlet/Satellite?c=Article_C&cid=1201957722066&pagename=Zone-English-News/NWELayout.

    Comment by Mark D. — August 30, 2010 @ 2:16 pm

  148. Kevin,

    A question. If you believe this issue is a 1st amendment issue, can I safely assume that you reject original intent when interpreting the Constitution?

    Why would I do that? Your argument seems to stand on whether or not Islam is defined as a religion, which is an utterly silly argument to stand on.

    I’ll spot you Averroes and Hindu decimal point math, and you give me any examples of rational thought, scientific inquiry, human liberty, technology, political theory, philosophy,etc. that have been advanced or expanded on under Islamic rule.

    I’m with Taysom on this one. You’ve gotta be kidding me. Let me guess, you got a D in world history in high school or something…

    On the other hand, to this day, there are innumerable examples of these things being eliminated under Islamic rule. Spain flourished under the caliphate as the United States flourished under the Edmunds Act. It was just a certain Church that didn’t seem to do so well during that time. From a Christian and Western Civilization perspective the caliphate was an unmitigated horror.

    Dude, you need to check back on your history. While Europe went through the “Dark Ages” knowledge, understanding, scientific discovery, mathematics and so on, flourished under Islamic control. I’ll give you a utterly simple one. Where do you think algebra comes from? Is algebra not a major development in mathematics? What’s up with Europeans not discovering it?!?!?!

    You’re like a guy who shows up in 700AD Europe and blames the Catholic Church for the downfall of education, literacy and progress in Europe over the previous 300 some odd years.

    Comment by Dan — August 30, 2010 @ 2:28 pm

  149. by the way, Kevin, speaking of original intent, did you ever read the Treaty of Tripoli of 1797? Here is a relevant article from that:

    Art. 11. As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion,—as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility, of Mussulmen,—and as the said States never entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mahometan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.

    Looks like the Founders thought Islam was a religion that deserved respect. Of course, this treaty also notes that America is not “in any sense, founded on the Christian religion” which must surely burn…

    Comment by Dan — August 30, 2010 @ 2:43 pm

  150. Rudd’s arguments are identical to those used to deny first freedom and then civil rights to blacks. They were incapable of governing themselves, of course, because they didn’t have a liberal mentality [back in the days when liberal meant free, rather than non-Beckish]. There had never been a republican government in Africa. Africans had produced no scientific or philosophical or artistic contributions to world culture [saying it makes it so, don’t you know]. Blacks were unfit for participation in Western civilization.

    For a couple of generations, that is also what the rest of America said about us as Mormons. We were incapable of participation in a republican government because we were in subjection to a theocracy. Not only that, but we were constitutionally unfit because polygamy had so degraded our minds and bodies. We were un-American in every sense of the word.

    Isn’t this exactly what you are saying about Muslims, Rudd? Yes, it is. Are you as wrong, as pig-headedly and classically wrong as proponents of those earlier bigotries were? Yes, you are.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — August 30, 2010 @ 3:07 pm

  151. @149

    Dan,

    It has nothing to do with Islam being a religion or not. Quite simply, the First Amendment originally applied to Congress and not the states. Through later decisions by the Supreme Court it was ruled that in light of the 14th amendment, that the first eight amendments applied to the states also. In other words, at the adoption of the Constitution and for about 70 years after, the states were free to pass laws prohibiting the free exercise of religion.

    Comment by Kevin Rudd — August 30, 2010 @ 3:39 pm

  152. Kevin,

    It’s a good thing reasoned minds later on realized the folly of such a system where states could prohibit the free exercise of religion while the federal government could not, isn’t it?

    Though I can see now why conservatives have such loathing for Lincoln, the Supreme Court of the 1860s, and the 14th Amendment. Those stand in their way of Talibanizing America.

    Comment by Dan — August 30, 2010 @ 3:45 pm

  153. @148

    Mark D.

    No, there are plenty of signs that Turkey is moving away from a secular orientation and looking to reassert itself independent of the West into the Balkans and the former Soviet Central Asian republics. Two examples: (1) A formal state visit by Ahmadinejad where they announced that they would not participate in sanctions against Iran acquiring nuclear weapons (2) repeated visits by Sudan’s President Omer Hassan al-Bashir who is accused of genocide against non-Muslims.

    Comment by Kevin Rudd — August 30, 2010 @ 4:02 pm

  154. @153

    Dan,

    That is precisely the crux of the matter. Many of the states at the adoption of the Constitution had established religions and religous tests for holding office or voting. That the First Amendment applied only to the Federal Government was its expressed intent, not some oversight.

    The Constitution a folly, only later rescued by reasonable judges? Interesting.

    Some would say that Lincoln and the courts have facilitated the possibility of “Talibanization.” Before it would take each individual state to pass unjust laws, now it can be done to all states by one court.

    Comment by Kevin Rudd — August 30, 2010 @ 4:22 pm

  155. @146

    Dr. Taysom

    In my haste, I used an incorrect term. It should be what advances occurred because of Islamic rule. No doubt, Islam conquered many lands, and in them Arabs, some of them Muslims, made important contributions. The question though is did these advances take place because of the influence of Islam or in spite of it? Were not many of these same men we laud as participating in some sort of Islamic golden age persecuted by the Caliphate? Is there not still a hostility in Islam to any non religious knowledge not found in the Koran. It’s kind of like the Catholic Church taking credit for Galileo.

    And with that even, what are we to make out of the last half millenium?

    One last question. Do you think Islam doctrinally can recognize the state? Can they ever render unto Caesar?

    Comment by Kevin Rudd — August 30, 2010 @ 4:49 pm

  156. Kevin,

    No, there are plenty of signs that Turkey is moving away from a secular orientation and looking to reassert itself independent of the West into the Balkans and the former Soviet Central Asian republics

    Their relationship with Islamic states is not an indicator of moving away from a secular orientation.

    That is precisely the crux of the matter. Many of the states at the adoption of the Constitution had established religions and religous tests for holding office or voting. That the First Amendment applied only to the Federal Government was its expressed intent, not some oversight.

    No doubt a compromise to ensure a unanimous vote, just like the 3/5ths black thing.

    The Constitution a folly, only later rescued by reasonable judges? Interesting.

    Nope. The Constitution flawed, by design, only later amended by reasonable judges and voters. Remember, amendments require quite a lot, not just “reasonable judges.”

    Some would say that Lincoln and the courts have facilitated the possibility of “Talibanization.” Before it would take each individual state to pass unjust laws, now it can be done to all states by one court.

    Courts don’t pass laws, Kevin. They never have. They never will. Courts judge the Constitutionality of laws. If you don’t like that, tough luck. Move to another country.

    And with that even, what are we to make out of the last half millenium?

    Exactly the same thing we are to make out of the 500 year period from 400AD to 900AD in Europe.

    One last question. Do you think Islam doctrinally can recognize the state? Can they ever render unto Caesar?

    seeing as they believe Jesus to be a prophet, they accept his teachings, so yeah, they can render unto Caesar.

    Comment by Dan — August 30, 2010 @ 5:21 pm

  157. “Some would say that Lincoln and the courts have facilitated the possibility of “Talibanization.” Before it would take each individual state to pass unjust laws, now it can be done to all states by one court.””

    Anti-Lincoln? Shouldn’t that be grounds for banning. Who is the Steve Evans around here? Ban Him!

    Comment by Chris H. — August 30, 2010 @ 10:05 pm

  158. Sorry Chris, but only one person at any given time may hold the true keys of banning on earth. At the moment, that man is Steve Evans, and you will find only gauzy impostors here.

    Comment by SC Taysom — August 30, 2010 @ 10:21 pm

  159. @157

    Dan,

    Gee, thanks for the charitable reading of my comments. Move to another country? Again, all I can reply is, really?

    I apologize that you did not understand my words. I wrote that it can be done to the states by the courts. This is precisely what courts have been doing for many years. No Dan, I don’t believe that they formally write up a law and issue it by edict. Let me use two well known examples on how it is accomplished. How did abortion become legal throughout the United States? Did all the several states and municipalities pass laws making it legal? No. A majority of justices perused the shadows and penumbras of the Constitution and found this “right.” Voila, the law of the land is changed. How about Proposition 8? Did the California legislature pass a new law defining marriage? No, in this case one judge decided that homosexuals can be legally married. Really Dan, the courts don’t effictively make laws? Yes, there are laws that are truly unconstitutional, but the courts these days never seem to choose the one’s that the framers intended.

    I’ll give you this though Modern Islam could probably give Europe after the fall of Rome a run for its money.

    “They believe Jesus to be a prophet and accept his teachings, so yeah they can render unto Caesar.”

    You’re just messing with me on this one, right?

    Of course they believe in Jesus (excluding all that trivial Son of God, and Savior stuff naturally) how could I have possibly thought differently?

    Comment by Kevin Rudd — August 30, 2010 @ 10:26 pm

  160. No, there are plenty of signs that Turkey is moving away from a secular orientation

    Relative to most other Muslim majority countries, Turkey is so institutionally secular that it will take a lot more than several years dominance by the AKP to make much of a difference, so far as the government and other public institutions are concerned. The constitution would have to be basically thrown out, and there doesn’t appear to be anywhere near majority support for that.

    The possibility that a court could rule on the constitutionality of constitutional changes is legally bizarre, legal experts say, but raised by the fact that clause four of Turkey’s 1982 basic law states that amendments to the first three clauses can’t be made or even proposed. Those clauses establish Turkey as a Turkish speaking, democratic and secular republic “loyal to the nationalism of Ataturk.”

    That’s the WSJ in an article an upcoming constitutional referendum in Turkey, one in which less radical changes will be voted on. See here.

    Comment by Mark D. — August 30, 2010 @ 10:46 pm

  161. Kevin R, I have to say I find this “Islam is evil” thing more than a little disturbing. If you want to influence several billion people, it is a little more productive to build on common beliefs than to claim their religion is unmitigated evil.

    I think state religions are a bad thing, but it certainly wouldn’t be a stretch for me to imagine writing a book titled “What is right with Islam is what is right with America” relatively similar to the book that Imam Rauf wrote with the same title. Substitute Buddhism, Confucianism, Hinduism, Judaism, Christianity, no problem.

    Comment by Mark D. — August 30, 2010 @ 11:00 pm

  162. @162

    Mark, I hope you’re right about Turkey. I guess that I’m just more pessimistic about its chances.

    I hold no ill will to the Muslim people. I wish that we would stop slaughtering them in their homelands. I have nothing against any who live in the United States.

    What I find disturbing though is that even in light of its doctrines which can only be described as antichrist, because they are literally antichrist. And in spite of its history which has been in opposition to Christianity and Judaism from its inception. And in spite of its history of brutality towards minority religions in the civilizations it has conquered. And in spite of the fact that today Islamic regimes still demonstrate no respect for the basic humanity of individuals. And in spite of the fact that in Europe we’re seeing the bloody fruits of the marriage of the West and Islam. There are still so many who hate their heritage so thoroughly that they will ignore all this and twist themselves in knots proclaiming the virtues of Islam.

    Comment by Kevin Rudd — August 31, 2010 @ 12:53 am

  163. Kevin,

    It is obvious that you have made up your mind about the nature of Islam and the nature of the United States. I hesitate to offer any new evidence that might contradict your world view. Yet it seems important to remind our readers that the Ottoman Empire was a conglomerate of Christians, Muslims, and other religions that existed in peace for a long time–and this was after the Muslims conquered the Christians. For years the Muslims were much more tolerant of the Christians than Christians have ever been of Muslims. I would argue that most of the more radical sects of Islam became popular in reaction to oppressive colonial practices by Christian nations. Stated in another way; Radical Islam became a tool for many colonized areas to throw off the chains of Imperial tyranny. I can give a bunch of examples upon request. The thirteen colonies overthrew the very culturally similar British whose worst offense was taxing them without representation. Radical Islam, in part, developed to counteract the violent, racist, exploitative, and disingenuous practices of Western Imperialism. While I cannot condone its ideology or practices, I must acknowledge the West’s role in creating such fundamentalism in the same way that we need to acknowledge American anti-communism as a key factor in the rise of both Saddam Hussein and the Taliban. There are historical reasons for the current religious polarities in the world, and the West holds at least as much blame as the Muslim World.

    Comment by Joel — August 31, 2010 @ 7:20 am

  164. Taysom,

    I totally think you are up to the task. I would sustain you.

    Comment by Chris H. — August 31, 2010 @ 7:30 am

  165. Kevin,

    #159,

    How did abortion become legal throughout the United States?

    Shouldn’t the actual relevant question be: How did abortion become illegal throughout the United States? After all that was the real question behind the Supreme Court’s decision. In any case, we’re way off tangent here, and I doubt it is worth our time to delve into this topic.

    Of course they believe in Jesus (excluding all that trivial Son of God, and Savior stuff naturally) how could I have possibly thought differently?

    dunno man, that’s for you to figure out. That trivial Son of God and Savior stuff doesn’t matter one whit to whether or not they accept Jesus’s teachings, including rendering unto Caesar. In any case, there are several good examples of nation-states that are not run by Islamic religious leaders, including Saudi Arabia. Whatever we may think of their despotic ways, the king of Saudi Arabia is not the country’s religious leader (if I am not mistaken, though I will happily admit being wrong on that if the case is different). Indonesia is not run by Islam, though it may be the state’s religion. Pakistan is not run by Islam. Egypt is not run by Islam. Albania is not run by Islam. The Vatican, however, is run by the Pope. Italy used to be run by the Pope.

    Another relevant question for you is, how exactly do Jews reconcile their faith with the state? After all, they DON’T believe in Jesus, and thus they don’t believe in rendering unto Caesar…just something else to consider.

    I hold no ill will to the Muslim people. I wish that we would stop slaughtering them in their homelands. I have nothing against any who live in the United States.

    You’ve repeated this several times and I find this phrase very disturbing, as if us slaughtering them in THEIR homelands is THEIR fault, and if only THEY would improve their ways, we might stop slaughtering them. Damn!

    What I find disturbing though is that even in light of its doctrines which can only be described as antichrist, because they are literally antichrist

    Jews don’t believe in Jesus. Are they anti-Christ? Buddhists don’t believe in Jesus. Are they anti-Christ? Name any other non-Christian nation. Are they anti-Christ? You show, over and over, to have a natural hatred of Islam that is rather disturbing.

    Comment by Dan — August 31, 2010 @ 7:54 am

  166. Quoting from First Presidency Statement, February 15, 1978:

    The great religious leaders of the world such as Mohammed, Confucius, and the Reformers, as well as philosophers including Socrates, Plato, and others, received a portion of God’s light. Moral truths were given to them by God to enlighten whole nations and to bring a higher level of understanding to individuals.

    Comment by Joel — August 31, 2010 @ 8:04 am

  167. @165
    Dan,

    No, I don’t believe that it is the fault of the Muslims that we are killing them. Again, I wish we would disengage with the Islamic world, our presence only seems to bring death and destruction to both sides (but much more to their side.) I have no quarrel with Islam per se, let those who believe live as they see fit. But in light of its nature and history with the West only a fool would wish to import more of it to the United States.

    Yes, many religions don’t accept Jesus. The relevant difference with Islam is that it was conceived specifically to counter the Judaism and Christianity that Mohammed had encountered in his world. It by name rejects Christianity as being heretical.

    Dan, your logic about the Jews and Caesar is fascinating. Jews, in practice, have a history of being able to live in a secular state.

    Comment by Kevin Rudd — August 31, 2010 @ 8:54 am

  168. @164

    Joel,

    Yes, this is the heart of the matter. Is there such a thing as “radical” Islam that is a recent reaction to externalities affecting the Muslim world. Or is it just the nature of Islam.

    I believe that the facts over the centuries show that what some would consider “radical” Islam is really just the Islam of the Koran and teachings of Mohammed. I believe that the history, although readily available to be studied, has been obscured by many who hold anti Western views. Thus the rosy views of life under the Caliphate.

    Comment by Kevin Rudd — August 31, 2010 @ 9:07 am

  169. Kevin,

    Dan, your logic about the Jews and Caesar is fascinating. Jews, in practice, have a history of being able to live in a secular state.

    Yeah, there’s a reason for that. 2000 years of oppression will force you to accept secular states. But remember, Jesus’s answer to the question was profound for the Jews of his time.

    The relevant difference with Islam is that it was conceived specifically to counter the Judaism and Christianity that Mohammed had encountered in his world. It by name rejects Christianity as being heretical.

    One could argue quite well that Jesus was there to specifically counter Judaism. Just admit that you hate Islam. It would do you better to just say it. You think Islam is the prophesied anti-Christ religion that will bring about Armageddon. You’re saying all the right things. You probably think Syria is Gog and Iran Magog.

    But in light of its nature and history with the West only a fool would wish to import more of it to the United States.

    Importing implies willful action to increase the quantity of said item. I don’t think anyone is arguing that we should increase the quota of Muslims in this nation. America should remain a free place where, if people so desired, they are welcome to come, Muslim, Jew, Christian, Buddhist, and so on. That’s the beauty of this nation.

    In any case, I think I’m going to stop here. I honestly don’t know why we’re discussing this aspect as it has no bearing on whether or not Muslims have the right, morally as well as legally, to build their community center on private property they own, approved by local zoning boards and all other legal means taken care of. Without turning to bigotry, no one has made a reasonable argument why this community center should not be built.

    Comment by Dan — August 31, 2010 @ 9:19 am

  170. Well, this thread has about run its course. We’ve allowed Kevin to use the JI for his, um, misinformed views of Islam about long enough.

    Comment by David G. — August 31, 2010 @ 11:23 am

  171. Since this post has gone far afield (and gotten a bit uncivil), a few folks have asked me to shut it down. I am thus doing so. I’m quit saddened that we couldn’t have a constructive conversation about the specific case at issue.

    Comment by Max — August 31, 2010 @ 1:25 pm