The Cordoba Initiative Revisited

As an update to my previous item on the Cordoba Initiative, the building of a large Mosque and Community Centre a few blocks away from the 9/11 site in New York, the Project appears to be continuing with legal efforts failing to stop it.

I have stated in my blog and in some forums that I am against the Project, but for none of the reasons pushed by the ugly agenda driven groups leading the opposition.   I have not seen evidence enough from the Project that demographics demand the location and that radicalization and other political agendas will not take over the Project.   From what I have seen, there is enough radical, ultra-conservative and outside influences that seep into America’s Muslims, regardless of the best intentions to stop it.  The combination of these two points for me is enough to say, do not build it, or at least do not build it there.  Demographics is important, as it is still a Mosque, they say they want the Project to be a national symbol and a monument to inter-faith dialogue, I support that – so why not in Washington DC as a site?

Today I read in the “Upshot” section of Yahoo News an item by John Cook called “Mosque’s opponents have taken opposite position in court” showing the hypocrisy of some of the forces trying to stop the Project.  It is very telling.

It tells us that many of the players trying to block the project have in fact used the laws that are supporting the Project to support the building of Churches and other houses of worship and yet are now opposing these very same laws.  Cook says “Oddly, many of the groups leading and supporting the campaign against the so-called mosque have a history of arguing in favor of religious freedom on similar cases.”

Family of 9/11 Victims are pushed emotionally by those with agenda hate to assume Islam itself is the cause of their suffering.

The American Center for Law and Justice, the legal advocacy group leading the charge, has argued repeatedly and forcefully in federal court on at least three occasions that local land-use laws such as historical landmark designations don’t trump the religious and property rights of religious groups to build houses of worship. So has the Anti-Defamation League, which controversially came out in opposition to the mosque last week. The group has filed no less than five amicus briefs in federal court arguing that local governments can’t use zoning laws to prevent the building of churches and synagogues.

Indeed, these groups all compose part of a large ecosystem of religious-rights organizations; members of such groups have made frequent use of a federal law that erects significant barriers for local governments seeking to interfere with religious buildings. With few exceptions, in the case of Cordoba House, these groups have either been silent or directly contradicted their own history of statements and action.

The American Center for Law and Justice, the legal advocacy group leading the charge, has argued repeatedly and forcefully in federal court on at least three occasions that local land-use laws such as historical landmark designations don’t trump the religious and property rights of religious groups to build houses of worship. So has the Anti-Defamation League, which controversially came out in opposition to the mosque last week. The group has filed no less than five amicus briefs in federal court arguing that local governments can’t use zoning laws to prevent the building of churches and synagogues.

Indeed, these groups all compose part of a large ecosystem of religious-rights organizations; members of such groups have made frequent use of a federal law that erects significant barriers for local governments seeking to interfere with religious buildings. With few exceptions, in the case of Cordoba House, these groups have either been silent or directly contradicted their own history of statements and action.

More condemning:

The group’s website says it “remains committed to the principle that the use of zoning laws to curtail the religious freedoms of churches is unconstitutional.”

The group’s shift on Cordoba House indicates it may not believe the same rights should be afforded to mosques as “churches.” ACLJ wrote a letter to the New York City Planning Commission [pdf] urging it to confer landmark status on the building and Wednesday, after the Planning Commission unanimously voted not to interfere with the construction of the mosque, ACLJ vowed to pursue the matter in state court, and today filed suit seeking to stop construction of Cordoba House.

I find it interesting that with all the blogosphere hype and a few very short appearances on cable, Pamela Geller who claims to be the leader of the anti-Mosque movement, is not mentioned at all.  Her greatness is obviously in her own mind and she will make her racist, bigoted and self-congratulatory remarks as if she will stop the Project by her own super-powers.

I hope the Project does not go ahead, as I have mentioned, not for bigoted and agenda-for-profiteering reasons.  They simply have to work harder to justify it.

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Dove World Outreach Center – Radical Christian Hate Mongers

The Dove World Outreach Center is not new to controversy, they have been active for years issuing “Islam is of the Devil”  T-Shirts, condemning homosexuality with near violence, condemning basically anything or anyone that disagrees with them, to put it simply – nothing really “dove” like at all.

They now plan on September 11 to burn copies of the Muslim Koran in stark defiance to the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) whom said in a statement:

“The NAE calls on its members to cultivate relationships of trust and respect with our neighbors of other faiths. God created human beings in his image, and therefore all should be treated with dignity and respect”

The leader of Dove World Outreach Center is Pastor Dr Terry Jones, author of “Islam is of the Devil“, a hate-for-profit book that simply claims examples of historical events as some form of devilish proof (and conveniently ignoring the equally ugly history of Christianity) and then tying it to literal and fundamentalist interpretations of the Bible.   It is ironic that much, if not most, of Islam’s problems is with equally ugly individuals taking religious texts in a literal and fundamentalists manner.  He blames Islam for 9/11……

If we try to consider the logic behind such an ugly and frankly un-Christian excercise, we can only come to a number of conclusions.

a) He and his wife (why is it always the most successful fruitcake profiteering Evangelists are a husband & wife combo?) are seeking controversy to catch dollars because it sells so well.  

b) They are truly radical fundamentalists and simply blinded.

Why I think it is the former and not the latter is because of the book by Jones.  We must assume that he had to do some research to write a book and then in that case he knows his work is a lie.  He follows the baseless lines that other hate-for-profiteers do by noting the acts of (other) radicals and extremists and then assuming that all Muslims are as such.  Alternatively, following the Spencer-farce by pushing that the radical Islamists are obviously real Muslims and the rest are heretics.    Jones may very well have written his book from inside his closet and based all of his work on guess works and from questionable bloggers like Spencer, either way even the most closed mind that bothers to look at the world knows it is pure rubbish.

I personally do not care if a group of obviously blinded radical evangelists with a lack of knowledge and facts burns books, though it is ugly and hurtful to the Muslims, but what it most certainly will do is be used as proof by the just-as-ugly radical Islamists as proof that Christian America is on a Crusade to wage war on Islam and thus they must do the same.

Thanks Dr Jones, you have done everything to make sure the division stays and gets worse.

Terry Jones, Michael Palin and Terry Gilliam

I wonder what the much more famous and respectable Terry Jones would think about this person, considering he directed The Life of Brian and the best of the very sacriligeous Monty Python sketches, including the “not the Spanish Inquisition” skits.

Question for Debate: When does religious views cross the line?

I read in DutchNews.nl today an item called “Bible Belt says no to football on Sunday, whatever the occasion” which at first I thought was just “a bit funny” and then started wondering.  

As it is not a long item so I will quote it in full, with full acknowledgement and respect to DutchNews.nl.

Friday 09 July 2010

The Netherlands may be on the brink of its first football World Cup title, but in some parts of the Dutch Bible Belt, watching tv on a Sunday is totally forbidden, the Telegraaf points out on Friday.

And Kees van der Staaij, leader of the fundamentalist Protestant party SGP is one of those who will not be following events in South Africa.

‘Absolutely not,’ a spokesman told the Telegraaf. ‘He may watch television occasionally for work but never to relax and absolutely not on Sunday.’

In the village of Urk, which has 20 plus churches for its population of 17,000, three cafes have aroused the ire of religious leaders for deciding to open their doors during the match.

But in the Bible Belt heartland of Staphorst people who actually have a tv will watch quietly at home, a town council spokeswoman said. ‘Someone might run outside with a tooter, but they will go back in again straight away’.

In the village of Elburg the local minister has prayed for Oranje to lose. He has even advised parents to put a filter on their children’s computers so they do not watch such a ‘sinful’ match. © DutchNews.nl

What does this item tell us?    For me, many things.  I dislike the SGP for many reasons, that they want to ban women from any public office being amongst them.   Having said that, the right to religious belief is a fundamental principle that I share with my country and consider that sacred.  The question does comes at what point does a faith that control the lives of its followers cross over the line of the rules, standards and morals of the country as a whole.  Also when does those followers start impacting on those that disagree with that faith’s standards?  History, recent past and even the present has endless examples of what that causes around our now very small planet.

We all know the grave problem of how radical Islamism forces not only other Muslims to follow a certain line, but how it also makes unwarranted and unjustified demands on western societies that these radicals are present in.  That radicalism is not only subject of media attention, albeit much real and some often exaggerated, but it is also used and abused by other radicals to fulfill their own ugly agendas.  My blog is full of such examples.   Nevertheless, if radical Islamists are willing to go that far, what about Christian Fundamentalist groupings like that which the SGP represent –  will they go that far if they are able to get away with it?

That is the question that I wish readers to consider.   What would happen say if the SGP took the second largest number of voters or the largest?    They would demand women not be allowed to take public office, that is a clear agenda platform – even though that would require a constitutional alteration.   Would they forbid football on Sundays?  Would they force Christian teachings in Government Schools?  Would they limit or ban non-Christian schools?   Limit the growth, sponsorship and funding of non-Christian organisations that are involved in serious community work?

What is the limit when a community thinks something is sinful and requires actions?    My concern is that groups like the SGP will, as a result of economic and social issues, become more radicalized with the extreme members having more influence in policy.  That they will grow like the PVV (or perhaps take some of the PVV votes as and when that ugly abomination collapses) and that their numbers will grow to a significant level to create a lobby group with just enough clout to make trouble.   What will happen, I fear, is that they will have enough influence to have a say, a hearing of sorts, but because their principles are a “matter of faith” and a “matter of God’s Will in their batle against what they call sin”, that they will feel OBLIGED to take matters into their own hands.

The subject in that item might seem to be about football, but it raises a very interesting question.  Though tolerance, human rights and freedom of expression are the normal accepted standards of my country, our history has often shown otherwise.  In our more recent past a siginficant enough number of my country along with a number of others, sided with Hitler and embraced even Nazism.  Further back it should never be forgotten that the apartheid movement, organized racism and much of European’s ugly history in Africa stemmed directly from the guidence and followers of the Dutch Reformed Church.

What do you think?