A Newfound Reverence For Religious Liberty

Ralph Peters smells a rat in the Ground Zero mosque imam:

…Social peace requires reciprocity. Each day, each one of us chooses not to do many things that would be legal but offensive to those around us. Even in our permissive society, restraint keeps the peace.

Imam Rauf is not being a good citizen. He is not “building bridges,” but exploiting the arrogance of our cultural elite toward their fellow citizens. He is an exuberantly divisive figure, not a healer.

The glaring failure of our media has been their unwillingness to question the Cordoba Initiative with the same rigor they apply to the mosque’s opponents: Who will fund the mosque complex? Why should so grandiose a project be built so far from the center of mass of New York’s Muslim communities? Why scorn out of hand Governor Patterson’s remarkably generous offer of free state land elsewhere in New York City?

The key to unlocking the Cordoba Initiative’s secrets may lie in the funding. Why should Imam Rauf-so vocal in other regards-play coy about who will pay the center’s bills (estimated at a minimum of a $100 million)?

The money probably will come, directly or indirectly, from Saudi Arabia and Persian Gulf states. If that’s the case, it suggests divisive purposes. From Africa through Asia, I’ve seen Wahhabi “charity” at work. Invariably, the Saudi purpose in funding religious schools and mosques abroad (including in the US) has been to prevent Muslims from integrating into majority non-Muslim societies…

Even the use of the name “Cordoba” is brilliantly cynical. To Atlantis-will-rise-again! Leftists, medieval Cordoba, in Spain, is a fairy-tale example of Muslims, Christians and Jews living together amicably in a social compact called the convivencia.

What’s left out of the fable is that Christian and Jews were distinctly second-class members of society heavily taxed for their faiths and subject to the whims of Muslim rulers. After a brief cultural flowering, Cordoba’s rulers for centuries were Islamist fanatics from North Africa.

One cannot help but suspect that Imam Rauf and his backers are mocking us, gleefully turning our Constitution against us, and exploiting a media terrified of being accused of bigotry…

And David Harsanyi wonders when it became bigoted to criticize a religion:

…There are those who continue to make the facile claim that any protest over [the GZM] is a display in un-American intolerance and contempt for the Constitution. This position treats criticism of faith — religious institutions and symbols included — as tantamount to “bigotry.”

Given that there remains overwhelming opposition to the ground zero mosque, this viewpoint would mean that 70 percent of Americans are impulsively hostile to freedom of religion and irrationally narrow-minded.

Could be. Or maybe a few of these folks believe the First Amendment features more than one clause. Even a newfound reverence for religious liberty on the left does not negate our right to protest and criticize the philosophical disposition of others. And applying public pressure in an effort to shut down a project is as American as protesting the arrival of a new Walmart. Religious institutions, as far as I can tell, are not exempted from these disputes.

In 2008, thousands of gay rights activists protested the Mormon temple in Westwood, Calif., for its role in passing Proposition 8 — the ban on same-sex marriage. This grew into a national protest to undermine the influence of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — even though not every Mormon was involved.

I don’t recall anti-Mormon protesters being referred to as bigots for targeting religion; it appeared to be just the opposite, in fact. And if I am offended by aspects of Mormon theology, why not voice those concerns? Put it this way: If Mormons proposed the erection of a 13-story community center in West Hollywood or the West Village, I would be happy to join the outcry of protest.

Though only a fraction of Catholic priests are pedophiles, the entire Roman Catholic Church is routinely broad-brushed as corrupt and depraved. I’ve not heard those who make generalizations about Catholicism referred to as bigots in Time magazine. Nor have I heard those who regularly disparage evangelicals called intolerant…

…Prospectively speaking, unlike many other faiths, ideological Islam has a poor track record of compatibility with liberal ideals. Surely, that’s worth a discussion in a free society. Or is it a case of intolerance to bring it up?

I’ve read numerous columns claiming that “allowing” a mosque to be built near ground zero is proof of our tolerant goodness. To be certain. But surely our ability to conduct a peaceful debate over the meaning of institutions, including religious ones, is also a reflection of that greatness.

Wow! An apparently genuine moderate Muslim, not the jihadist-in-moderate clothing conjured up by Modo’s wishful thinking :

…By now you have to be willfully blind not to know that the imam in charge of the project, Feisal Abdul Rauf, is the moderate Muslim we have allegedly been yearning for…

Jennifer Rubin begs to differ:

…Uh, not really. We’re yearning for a Muslim who specifically condemns Hamas as a terrorist group and doesn’t suggest that the U.S. is responsible for 9/11…

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