Mormons and Mosques

The so-called Ground-Zero Mosque is getting a lot of press lately, and it appears that the majority of Americans oppose building the mosque mere blocks away from Ground Zero.

Kent Larsen, over at Times & Seasons, posted a thoughtful write-up explaining that Latter-Day Saints should carefully examine their positions on the mosque because of potential impact on building future temples.

I happen to agree with Kent on this issue and on many points of his post, but can think of another reason why Latter-Day Saints should examine their opposition to the mosque- the 11th Article of Faith.

11 We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.

Articles of Faith of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints

The keyword is where. And what a where it is…in close proximity to Ground Zero!

I can empathize with those who lost loved ones in the World Trade Center on 9/11 and understand their angst and consternation with an Islamic mosque in close proximity to the now-hallowed ground where lives were lost in a savage terrorist attack. The connection between Islam and the terrorist attacks on 9/11 may never go away. Sadly, not only were thousands of lives lost that day, but a religion was hijacked by the worst kind of extremists, extremists who do not represent the majority of Muslims who practice Islam.

The broader question, I think, for Latter-Day Saints, is will we let our faith be hijacked by politics and sacrifice one of the most basic tenets of our faith and a right guaranteed in the American Constitution: the free exercise of religion? Or will we stand up for the rights of others and let them worship how, where, or what they may? We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, but will we allow all people that same privilege?

Postscript: Please moderate your comments and be respectful of others, especially when disagreeing. Personal attacks will not be tolerated!! Thoughtful and respectful debate/disagreement, however, is tolerated and most welcome. The floor is now yours for discussion.

72 thoughts on “Mormons and Mosques

  1. Absolutely disagree with you on this Brian. I knew someone who was killed in the North Tower on the 91st floor on 9/11 — he left a wife and three kids and didn’t even get to say good-bye to them. To build this mosque so close is just inconsiderate and rude to the people who lost family and friends and to the people of NYC who have given so much to this nation. I also don’t think this debate is about the freedom to worship. There are pleanty of mosques in Manhattan to attend. As Latter-day saints we frequently face similar opposition when trying to build a temple. We do have the 11th AofF, but if a community does not want us, we move on, it does not affect our ability to worship. A community has the right to say what is built and where. If the people of NYC don’t want this mosque near Ground Zero, that’s ok and it’s not wrong to have that opinion.

  2. Those who don’t think it should be built that close to the site, please google map it. You’ll notice an abundance of churches within two blocks. A synagogue, a Greek Orthodox church, St. Paul’s, St. Peters–and there may be more. At least four buildings for religious services, all very close (most within one block). All this diversity, and you’re telling me that peaceful Muslims shouldn’t build in that general area? Muslims that had absolutely nothing to do with the radical organization that flew planes into those towers?

    I don’t buy it. I see how people that believe all Muslims are the same as those who caused the attacks might be offended or view the move as insensitive. I can see how those who believe that there is just one Muslim religion, and that religion caused the attacks, might not like the site there. I can see how politicians trying to score political points might speak against the mosque. But for the rest of us?

    I really don’t see how it’s rude to build it there, and I have yet to hear a logical reason for why it shouldn’t be built there. I would like to hear such a reason.

  3. I think we’re going to have to agree to disagree here, Brian. Whatis going on here is following a pattern that Islam has adhered to virtually since it’s founding: conquer a land, then immediately erect in the most sensitive places possible; in the past, it’s usually been holy sites (think Dome of the Rock), however in this case the greatest effect is to be achieved within 500 feet of ground zero, where over 3,000 people were murdered in the name of Allah not even 10 years ago. The choice of site is deliberate, and intended to rub our faces in the “fact” (their POV) that we are well on our way to being subjugated under Allah.

    Would you be so blaise about citing the 11th Article of Faith here, if the Muslims were intending – and getting government expedited help to facilitate – to erect a mosque immediately south of Pioneer Park?

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  5. Tim –

    That Greek Orthodox church you mentioned? It was the only religious structure destroyed in the Sept. 11th attacks. How is it that that church has been caught up in an endless mass of bureaucratic red tape trying to get a permit to re-build their building, and the very “religion” that destroyed it can waltz right into city hall and walk out again with a permit to erect a 13-story mosque within 500 feet of the attack?

    That would be equivilent to the Japanese being given a permit to build a Shinto Shrine on Ford Island in March of 1042, and it’s being done here for similar reasons.

  6. Ditto Tim. Nicely said. We need to remember Muslim-Americans died in the 9/11 attack.

    Jeff Dru- I agree the Greek Orthodox Church should not have difficulty rebuilding and the Muslims should not be discriminated against.

  7. As I’ve stated before, I certainly agree that the mosque organizers could have chosen a different site. But the reality it is two LONG blocks from the outside of ground zero in an abandoned former Burlington Coat Factory. It is not right on the edge of the WTC site. It is surrounded by tall buildings. You could easily walk there and not even known you were near Ground Zero.

    It is an extremely slippery slope for us conservatives to get on to start telling people what they can and can’t do with their property. So, we can all agree that they have a right to build there if they have the correct permits and if the zoning is appropriate for a religious building (which it is). So if they have a right to build there, the issue becomes: should they? Again, we all have a right to express our opinions on it. Conservatives have a right to picket the site and protest (and even put up a Muslim gay bar next door, which Greg Gutfeld plans to do). So we can all agree on that.

    The issue then becomes: is it a good idea for Mormons specifically to start telling the members of another religion what they should and should not do on their property? And that is when we get to the slippery slope. There are all kinds of wack-jobs who want to tell Mormons what we should and should not do with our own property. And some of them have very good reasons (in their own minds). Just wait until radical gay rights organizers hear about the next temple being built in California. Don’t think they will join with the idiot evangelical wack-jobs to protest the horrible Mormons because of Prop. 8?

    I hope we can agree that such protests, which may even convince some city councilors to oppose a future temple, would be in extremely poor taste. As Mormons, we would feel that we are being discriminated against — temples are very important to us.

    So, what will the gay rights radicals say to us? “How many of you Mormons stood up for the Muslims when people were protesting their mosque in downtown Manhattan? You guys are intolerant in addition to be homophobes.” And you know what? They will have a point.

    So, to review: the mosque builders have the right to do with they want with their property, just as we have the right to build a temple on appropriate land that we procure as a Church. People have to right to protest against the ground zero mosque, and gay rights radicals and wacky evangelicals have the right to protest against our temples. But should they? I say no. The greatest good is to just let people be and do what they want with their own land. That is what makes America unique.

  8. The argument against the Islamic center hinges entirely on a single, false premise: That the brand of Islam practiced by those who would use the prayer room within the center is identical to the brand of Islam practiced by the 9/11 hijackers. It isn’t, and it reflects badly on our nation, founded on religious liberty, that so many Americans are ignorant of the difference.

    Islam is a 1400-year-old faith with 1.6 billion adherents. The vast majority of them are peace-loving people who honestly seek to do good and honor God. They should not be punished because of the violent, evil acts of a few who believed in a perverted form of their faith.

    If it were up to me, I’d put a mosque right in the middle of the rebuilt World Trade Center plaza, if only to show the Osama bin Ladens of the world that America embraces people of all creeds, and that we are not intolerant extremists like he is.

  9. Let me anticipate some probable objections on behalf of my conservative brethren.

    1)Muslims is a weird, violent religion and Mormonism are not. From the perspective of your average Muslim, Osama bin Laden is just as weird and non-Muslim as Warren Jeffs is for us. OBL calls himself a “true” Muslim, Warren Jeffs calls himself a “true” Mormon. Don’t get me wrong: I love the Church and know the difference, but the point is that true tolerance is recognizing that all religions have things that appear weird to outsiders.

    2)Building at ground zero is offensive to the survivors. Yes, they can choose to be offended by it. Gay people can choose to be offended every time they drive by a temple. Black people can choose to be offended every time they go to SLC because we didn’t give African-Americans the priesthood. The surviving families of the victims of the Mountain Meadows Massacre can choose to be offended that it took the Church so long to deal with its history on that event. You don’t base policy on feelings and people being offended. You base it on the rule of law. What if one of the WTC survivors chose to take a different stand: “I choose to forgive and see the building of a mosque near ground zero as a sign of what a great country we are — we are the only country in the world that truly allows religious tolerance.”

    3)I don’t care if Muslims declare victory by building this mosque. I don’t define this country by what enemies think. I define this country by its greatness and its history and, yes, by the fact that it is a part of a chosen land. Our greatness is not diminished because Islamic extremists think they have won a victory. It is enhanced because we allow tolerance they do not allow, and, at the end of the day, one of the great lessons of the Gospel is that freedom is what God is all about.

  10. The United States is a country of different religions, immigrants, political views, and different places. This is what makes the United States of America unique. Our nation was founded on religious freedom. The pilgrims left England because they wanted to practice religion how they wanted to and they could not do so with the English Monarch. They came here. He wanted them to adhere to his church and religion. Many religious groups came to the North American continent.

    I believe they should build it. They own the land. They are building a community center. It is not on the actual land of the World Trade Centers. These are people wanting to build a religious structure. It is going to be called “The Cordoba House.” Cordoba is a city in Spain where many Jews, Christians and Muslims lived in harmony for hundreds of years before the Spanish Inquisition.

    I believe people oppose it being constructed because of what it is– a Muslim building. It would be a different story if it were a Catholic cathedral or an LDS temple.

    The Muslim religion has been hijacked by a small percentage of extremists. These extremists do not represent most Muslims. I don’t think these extremists are even 1% of Muslims. There are many parts of Islam that would make any person a better person. We as people do not know enough about others and their religions.

    I lived in Snowflake, Arizona for a few years. Snowflake has a large percentage of LDS people. There are people there that think only certain types of people should be there. I know an LDS sister there (in her 70s) that saw a Muslim looking man walking down Main Street. She called the police telling them about it. They told her that unless he is doing something unlawful, they cannot do anything. Just because she didn’t look like a ‘traditioanl Snowflake person’, she was suspicious of him. She thought he was a terriorist. She even has an idea that terriorists are going to come and fly planes into the Snowflake Temple.

    Many people out in the world believe that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is associated with the Fundamentalist LDS groups even though we are not them and they are not us. Many believe Mormons practice pologamy. In a sense, the LDS fundamantalists are those that believe and practice in the fundamental truths of the restored gospel. They are small groups that have hijacked the LDS name.

    There is a lot of opposition by a few in Phoenix, Arizona. All of this is in regards to the building of the Phoenix Arizona Temple in their neighborhood. They say that it is too tall and will block their view. The church has been cooperative with the neighbors. They think it does not fit their area. They just do not want an LDS temple to built there. It has nothing to do with the height or view, they do not want it. They want it elsewhere. They went to the point of having enough signatures to take the temple to a City of Phoenix election– which would cost the city a few million dollars to do. The planning commission approved all as they could not really limit it due to the Freedom of Religion Act.

    This is an issue that is testing diversity, tolerance, and religion. I believe in the freedom of religion.

  11. To those who believe the Islamic center would be too close, ask yourself how far away should the center be from ground zero? 1000 feet? 2000 feet? Can you justify any given distance reasonably? What criteria do you use to determine ‘too closeness’? Any attempt to justify a specific distance as being too close can be exposed as arbitrary by any reasonable person. The rule of law has determined the center’s proposed location as adequate. Zoning laws, city councils etc… have reasonably justified the proposed location. Public sentiment is attempting to override the rule of law based solely on emotion, false patriotism and misguided prejudice.

    Since 911 mosques are being opposed all over the country. Not only are new mosques being met with opposition, but expanding existing mosques is being opposed. Sound familiar? I think our emotions surrounding 911 are being played upon to evoke a general negative reaction to a religious group to the point where no distance from ground zero is far enough. Does that also sound familiar? I find it difficult to understand why any LDS familiar with our history, past and present, of persecution and mean spirited prejudice cannot see the irony and hypocrisy of opposing another religion in a similar manner.

  12. The problem with Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf is that he is on record saying he hopes the U.S. will allow Shariah law to be used to judge Muslims. This the week after Time magazine has a cover photograph of a Muslim girl who had her nose and ears cut off, and a man and woman were stoned to death for adultery! He has refused to disavow his support for Hamas, other terrorist organizations, and the Flotilla.

    The Imam believes “United States policies were an accessory to 9/11” and “Osama bin Laden was made in the USA.”

    He uses the title “Cordoba House” for his 15 storey mosque because the name celebrates the subjugation of Spain by Islamists. Cordoba was the capital of Muslim conquerors who symbolized their 800 A.D. victory over the Christian Spaniards by transforming a church there into the world’s third-largest mosque complex.

    The Imam refuses to say how his $18,000 net worth for the Cordoba House can finance a $100 million mosque. If he uses funds from Iran, he’ll be in violation of U.S. law.

    Islam has a history of celebrating victories over non-Muslims by building memorials on the victory site, such as the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem and Cordoba.

    Surely he has the right to build at 51 Park Place, but will the building foster religous understanding?

    Geraldo Rivera reports that the owner of the building at 51 Park Place might agree to another location in lower Manhattan below Houston Street.

  13. The landing gear from one of the planes flown into the World Trade Center landed on 51 Park Place. That location has special significance to Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf.

  14. I want to register a complaint about one aspect of this issue, the treatment of this as a local, personal issue. “Did you live in Manhattan? Did debris hit you? Did someone you know die?” It’s as if after Pearl Harbor, the relevance of Americans’ dismay at the attack had to be weighed according to whether they had ever lived in Hawaii or had a family member stationed there.

    The impact of an attack like 9/11 is much more than the deaths of those in the line of fire. It was an attack on the nation and its effects are still lived with by the entire nation.

  15. Mike Parker #9: “The argument against the Islamic center hinges entirely on a single, false premise: That the brand of Islam practiced by those who would use the prayer room within the center is identical to the brand of Islam practiced by the 9/11 hijackers. It isn’t, and it reflects badly on our nation, founded on religious liberty, that so many Americans are ignorant of the difference.”

    This side-steps the issue or religious tolerance somewhat. How about the religious liberty of the Mohammed Atta Fan Club portion of the Muslim world? They also exist, and when we are talking about robust tolerance for all religions, we’re talking about tolerating them too, and that’s where it gets hard, loving an enemy and doing good to someone who really does hate you and would despitefully use you and persecute you. Controlling someone else’s take on their own religion, delegitimizing undesirable strands, isn’t the American way.

  16. It is interesting to hear Mormons make an issue of the Imam’s loyalty, given that up until about 90 years ago, LDS people swore an oath against the United States as part of our most sacred rituals in the temple.

  17. Leaving religion out of it, there is a curious land-use issue here. Suddenly, the equivalent of a major battlefield existed in the middle of the densest part of our largest city. People get pretty touchy about any kind of encroachment of Civil War battlefields, but its relatively easy to leave alone a place like Antietam. Antietam in the middle of Manhattan would be impossible. Like the cities of Europe and Japan that were bombed to ruins in World War II, we just have to rebuild, put some plaques up, and continue living, which is pretty much what was done with the Pentagon.

  18. The landing gear from one of the planes flown into the World Trade Center landed on 51 Park Place. That location has special significance to Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf.

    Or, perhaps he was attracted by the greatly reduced price of the building after having been damaged on 9/11.

  19. R Biddulph #13: Certainly Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf’s views are not in line with yours, or perhaps even a majority of Americans’. Does this mean that we should ban a religious building because the views of some of its supporters are unpopular? That’s a very slippery slope to go down, especially when a Mormon temple is opposed because Mormons supposedly believe they will one day take over the government and save the constitution (loosely paraphrasing the “hang by a thread” meme).

    For what it’s worth, I agree with him that “United States policies were an accessory to 9/11″ and “Osama bin Laden was made in the USA.” Does that make me a terrorist? Or does it limit my right of assembly, religion, or speech? I hope note.

    There has certainly been a lot of criticism from the xenophobic right for Feisal Abdul Rauf. For a little balance, here are the words of a Jewish writer who knows him personally :

  20. Why can’t Muslims living in the US be expected to show as much sensivity as everyone else is?

    What makes them so special that non-Muslims have to be sensitive to their feelings but they don’t have to be sensitive to non-Muslims?

    I see a very hypocritical double-standard here.

  21. How have they not shown sensitivity? I think they’ve been remarkably sensitive in light of the rampant xenophobia, fear-mongering, and outright racism evident because peaceful American Muslims want to build a religious building further away from Ground Zero than two Catholic churches, a Greek Orthodox Church, and a synagogue?

  22. Bookslinger: You speak of “Muslims” as if every Muslim in the United States is insensitive. This sort of thinking directly implies that everyone of X group must be exactly the same. This is a false premise, one that is unfortunately all too common and leads to prejudice and racial stereotyping.

    Considering how often Mormons are all lumped together as thinking, believing, and acting the same way, I would think that a Mormon should be sensitive to this issue.

    Not all Mormons are the same, and neither are all Muslims.

  23. “Would you be so blaise about citing the 11th Article of Faith here, if the Muslims were intending – and getting government expedited help to facilitate – to erect a mosque immediately south of Pioneer Park?”

    What? They are planning a Mosque near the main homeless hangout in Salt Lake? They could use some planning help. Of course, the free health clinic is south of Pioneer Park…so you could get free flu shots right after prayers and then buy drugs at Pioneer Park (the only reason anyone goes there unless they live in a box…in which case they might live at Pioneer Park).

    I would read the rest of the comment…but why would I ruin my day on purpose. Brian, you are a Saint for sticking around here.

  24. Pioneer Park? I’d love to see a mosque go in there, maybe it would clean up the area a little.

  25. On the north side of Pioneer park is this cool place that makes Swiss french fries (frittes). If they built a mosque there…I would be ticked. Them be good fries.

  26. Wow.

    Mark Brown #18

    I can’t speak for you, but I think I can speak for most everyone else here at M*, I never took that oath. I’m a long shot from 90 years old, so I don’t see how this comment is germane to the topic at hand, unless you are going to hold us responsible for other people’s actions, (the ones who took the oath) just because we are Mormons now. That would make us all polygamists by extension as well eh?

    Tim #25

    People’s concern with the Muslim community center and mosque being built is because of the location, the reactions generated by it are due to the initial insensitivity of placing a Mosque that close to ground zero. In regard to the community center / mosque’s proximity in comparison to a synagogue and two Catholic churches, not germane to the topic. Was the religious affiliation of any of the 9/11 terrorists Catholic or Jewish?

    Stan #12

    I’ll take a stab at an agreeable location for mosques from ground zero. I haven’t heard any uproar about existing mosques in NYC being too close to ground zero. So I would suggest that greater than or equal to the distance between ground zero and the closest already built and running Mosque would likely be acceptable.

    Bill #11

    Don’t forget as a non-Muslim you got to pay a special tax. Would that be considered tolerant today?

    I think everyone agrees that if the zoning ordinances don’t prevent the construction, and they own the property they have every legal right to construct it. If people don’t understand why the proximity is sensitive to many people, regardless of whether you know someone who died in the towers, then I don’t think it can be explained to them. (I’m relatively certain it’s beyond my capacity at any rate.)

    I look forward to more discussion on this subject as I continue to evaluate my own opinions. I will be interested to see what people’s opinions are if construction workers and supply companies refuse to work on the project, as indicated in a few news stories. I do hope that people putting their voice in favor of the construction regardless of location will skip the baseless accusations of xenophobia, racism, and religious intolerance. While a small percentage of the people who object to this mosque / community center would, regardless of where it is built and may well be driven by one or more of these motives, it certainly does not characterize the group as a whole. In fairness, if 1% of Muslims being extremists does not make all of them extremists, then 1% of objectors to the construction being driven by darker motives, does not make all of them xenophobes, racists, or religious bigots. As my mom used to always say, “What’s fair for the goose is fair for the gander.”

    Just to be on the record about my opinion, lest it get characterized for me. I believe they have every legal right to build the Cordoba House if they have met all the legal requirements. I also believe that constructing it there is in bad taste.

  27. Doug D.:

    Excellent comments, Doug. Thank you!

    I was waiting for someone to bring up some of the points you made in your last paragraphs.

    Recently, in Phoenix, Arizona, residents opposed the temple proposed by the Church. Specifically, the residents said the height of the temple would obstruct the desert views and would increase traffic flow in their quiet neighborhood. What did the Church do? Re-designed the temple and took steps to ensure traffic flow would not be an issue (e.g.- no Christmas lights, no vistor’s center, etc.). Here is the url for the web site built by the Church about the Phoenix temple:

    The Muslims seeking to build the mosque certainly have some PR hurdles to clear. Perhaps they could use the LDS Church as a model for how to resolve those concerns?

  28. Doug D.,
    So if a group of Baptist Christian religious fanatics blew up another building in the middle of New York City, with thousands dead, and a mosque, a synagogue, and hundreds of businesses sat just one block away from that site, would you oppose an LDS church or a Catholic cathedral being built two blocks away from that site?

  29. “I’ll take a stab at an agreeable location for mosques from ground zero. I haven’t heard any uproar about existing mosques in NYC being too close to ground zero. So I would suggest that greater than or equal to the distance between ground zero and the closest already built and running Mosque would likely be acceptable.”

    So let’s codify this into a city ordinance so the restrictions can’t be construed as arbitrary. What would that ordinance look like? Something like …
    – No construction or use of existing construction for the purpose of Islamic worship or events shall take place within xx feet of ground zero based on the location of existing Islamic oriented structures as of 9-11-01 xx distance from ground zero.

    Now, how is that ordinance going to look on the books? Is it not targeting a specific religious group and limiting their activity? How is that justified? Certainly not by associating an entire religion with the actions of a radical faction! Is the ACLU going to rip it apart? Does it stand up to constitutional muster? Regardless of how tasteless and insensitive the site location is, our laws and institutions cannot allow such a restriction without chafing at our foundational principles.

    Let’s put some historical context around this issue. Our Nation is embarrassed by the Japanese internment camps during WWII. Would we also be embarrassed if we had limited Japanese activities and structures within a certain distance of Pearl Harbor? (which we probably did via the camps anyway) How will we view our actions in 50 years if by then relations with Islamic groups and countries have improved (I hope!) significantly? How will our actions now affect the development of good relations with Islamic groups? It’s hard to be fair and unbiased when the actions of another group still sting us, but reason and our faith dictate that we must try.

  30. Chris, if you’re talking about Caputos then building a mosque there would violate my right to get fat on great Italian food.

  31. Brian #32

    Thanks. This definitely has the ability to turn in to a PR nightmare for muslims, which is one thing they do not need in this country right now.

    Tim #33

    HUH? So baptists blow up a building in New York and you want to know if it’s okay for Catholics or Mormons to build 2 blocks from the site? Ummm….sure, the aren’t associated with the Baptists (shoot they aren’t even Protestants). Now let’s say another group of Baptists wanted to build near that site. That would set off some people to protesting as well I suspect. You do understand that it was Muslims that carried out 9/11 and this is a Muslim place of worship they are building correct? That is the sensitivity, not religion in general.

    Stan #34

    Perhaps I misunderstood your original question. I took the first part to mean at what distance would people be unlikely to protest the construction of a mosque. If you are discussing a zoning law implementation then I withdraw my suggestion on the grounds that it was not intended to meet such criteria. I think my suggestion would work for improving public opinion though.


    For everyone, I’d like to link this article. I think it might open a few eyes to what the rest of the world is like and that we really are making great strides here in America in terms of tolerance.

  32. To Brian Duffin: Great post. I had not thought of Article 11 as germane to the subject, but you are right.

    To Geoff B. #7 & 10: Very well said, sir! I emphatically agree.

    As for R Biddulph #13: Ah, no. Except for your last two sentences in your post, everything you said is wrong. Your quotes are either taken out of context or misconstrued, you’ve made false assumptions and leaps of “logic” and you are deliberately looking for the worst possible understanding of the situation at every turn.

    I don’t have the time to disprove everything you said (it’s quite a list!), but as an example I’ll choose one of them and shine a bit of light on it. You said, “He has refused to disavow his support for Hamas.” Not true. In hundreds of his speeches and in his “What’s Right With Islam is What’s Right with America” book, Imam Feisal has always condemned terrorism. Here’s a quote from the Cordoba Initiative FAQ about Imam Feisal:

    Imam Feisal has forcefully and consistently condemned all forms of terrorism, including those committed by Hamas, as un-Islamic. In his book, he even went so far as to include a copy of the Fatwa issued after 9/11 by the most respected clerics of Egypt defining the 9/11 attack as an un-Islamic act of terror and giving permission to Muslims in the U.S. armed forces to fight against those who committed this act of terror. Imam Feisal included this in his book to prove that terrorism must be fought even if Muslims have to fight fellow Muslims to stop it.

    I would suggest you take a look at the Cordoba Initiative’s web site I linked to above and especially check out the FAQ which should hopefully dispel a lot of your fears about the community center.

    I’m curious R Biddulph, where are you getting your information?

  33. Mike Parker: you got it backwards.

    I’m not bemoaning any trait, perceived or real, among Muslims in the US. I’m bemoaning those who are calling for ‘sensitivity’ _towards_ Rauf and his ilk. Those calling for sensitivity to be exercised by everyone BUT Muslims are the hypocrites in all this.

  34. Doug D.,
    Until you understand that the Muslims that want to build the mosque are to the Muslims that flew into the towers like violent fundamentalist Christians are to Catholics, or LDS, or mainstream protestants, you won’t understand why your rationale fails.

    The violent Baptists in my example are Christian. Obviously the Christian religion is a diverse one. Obviously, the entire Christian religion should not be defined by a few fanatics.

    The violent Muslims that caused 9/11 are Muslims. The Muslim religion, like the Christian one, is a diverse one, and should not be defined by a handful of terrorists.

  35. It seems pretty simple. Christians are not all alike (heck, some think we aren’t even in that category) and Muslims are not all alike.

  36. Mike: apples and oranges. Those two are “one room mosques” situated in buildings with other purposes. They are not monuments.

  37. Bookslinger: Please provide (reliable) evidence that the proposed Park51 facility is a “monument”. I’d very much like to see this.

  38. Mike: The proposed ground-zero mosque, is in its _stated purpose_ not a single-room mosque as per your previous faulty comparison, it is a single-purpose building to be entirely dedicated to Islam and Islamic culture.

    It is the height of insensitivity for Rauf to request, let alone demand, to build a mosque there.

    If you’re not outraged by it, you haven’t been paying attention to the last 43 years of modern world history.

    Building a mosque there would be as offensive and insensitive as the LDS church building a temple 2 blocks away from a memorial to the Mountain Meadows Massacre.

  39. Bookslinger #47: I’m sorry, but it is you that are wrong. I note that you did not provide a shred of evidence to back up your assertion that Park51 is “a single-purpose building to be entirely dedicated to Islam and Islamic culture.” I, on the other hand, can point to the project’s own web site, which details the plans for the building. It will include:

    outstanding recreation spaces and fitness facilities (swimming pool, gym, basketball court)
    a 500-seat auditorium
    a restaurant and culinary school
    cultural amenities including exhibitions
    education programs
    a library, reading room and art studios
    childcare services
    a mosque, intended to be run separately from Park51 but open to and accessible to all members, visitors and our New York community
    a September 11th memorial and quiet contemplation space, open to all

    And, FWIW, I have been paying attention to history, and I note that the United States’ troubles with the Islamic world began with the CIA-backed overthrow of the democratically-elected government government of Iran in 1953 and U.S. support for the brutal Shah. Many of the problems we face today are blowback from an aggressive, expansionist foreign policy.

  40. Bookslinger:

    Just given population and building density, two blocks away in Manhattan is probably more than equivalent to the closest temple to the mountain meadows–St. George.

    See here:,+Veyo,+UT&daddr=St.+George+Temple,+St.+George,+UT&hl=en&geocode=Fc7UOwIdy-85-SHPq3835keIDQ%3BFacYNgIdau46-SGqp5ZXOzv0Zykh3Xrl1UTKgDHf8ETpWuVFjA&mra=ls&sll=37.488208,-113.643608&sspn=0.143837,0.308647&ie=UTF8&z=10

  41. Tim,

    I understand the comparison. I am not blaming all Muslims for the 9/11 attacks. I am asserting that because Islam was tied so closely to those attacks it is in bad taste to put the Mosque that close. You can say that the building is in bad taste without hating Muslims, Islam, or grouping all Muslims together.

    As a side note, the three religions you chose as “Christian” don’t even share the same cannon of scripture unlike all sects of Islam which to my limited knowledge all believe in the Old Testament and Koran. The Catholic and Protestant Bibles have different content, and I don’t think I have to address the differences in cannon for the LDS church.

  42. Doug D., Bookslinger and others relying on the “insensitivity” argument, your position relies on equating the Islamist extremists who perpetrated 9/11 with all peaceful Muslims in the United States. Without such false equivalency, the “insensitivity” argument does not make sense. It is the same as saying that Mormons would be “insensitive” to build a chapel near a place where the FLDS have committed a bad act and thus should not build it.

    Since Brian referred to the Eleventh Article of Faith in the OP, I think it is appropriate to point out the relevance of D&C 134 to the issue as well, which I noted on August 5 when this was addressed at By Common Consent (

    For my part, I am a huge fan of the Bloomberg speech. Religious Freedom, Private Property Rights, Lockean Religious Toleration are principles fundamental to the American way of life and they put a real fire in my bones! In this respect, Bloomberg’s speech expresses fundamental Truth — to my mind, religious truth and political theory collapse indivisibly here into one concept. Political pundits like Palin and others who are attempting to prevent a mosque or Muslim community center from being built a few blocks from ground zero and who are riling up the nation against Muslims are placing themselves in direct opposition to these fundamental principles upon which America was founded.

    It is even more astounding to see Mormons joining the effort given our history and our present struggles nearly every time we try to build a temple. Isn’t it the same people who raise pretextual objections to the planned locations of our Mormon temples who are running this campaign to prevent the building of this mosque? How can any of us in good conscience join them?

    Luckily the First Amendment protects Muslims in the United States to the same extent as it protects Mormons or Baptists or Greek Orthodox. Muslims are not only free to exercise their religion according to the dictates of their own conscience but also the government is not allowed to express a preference against them, no matter how strong the political movement is that favors such a preference. To the extent a democratic majority expresses and enforces such a preference then it falls to the countermajoritarian nature of the courts to strike down any such legislation or action as unconstitutional.

    Believe me, those countermajoritarian federal courts that so many Mormons love to vilify these days will end up our best friend once this movement turns its attention back to pestering Mormons.

    If further persuasion is required, we need look no further than our own scriptures. D&C 134 renders canonical the natural law/natural rights principles that animated the drafters of the Declaration of Independence and the authors of the Federalist Papers. It is perfectly at home with a robust First Amendment that shields Muslims from this kind of dangerous populism that Palin and similar pundits are demonstrating.

    If this segment of American society were successful in restricting Muslims’ freedom of religion and property rights, this would be an open violation of the principle of D&C 134:4 — “we do not believe that human law has a right to interfere in prescribing rules of worship to bind the consciences of men, nor dictate forms for public or private devotion; that the civil magistrate should restrain crime, but never control conscience; should punish guilt, but never suppress the freedom of the soul.”

    It would also directly and straightforwardly violate D&C 134:9 — “We do not believe it just to mingle religious influence with civil government, whereby one religious society is fostered and another proscribed in its spiritual privileges, and the individual rights of its members, as citizens, denied.”

    Do we as Mormons want to find ourselves acting in opposition to D&C 134:9 or the Eleventh Article of Faith? Perhaps on a personal level some individual Mormon doesn’t like Islam or Muslims. Should not our scriptures be an appeal to that particular Mormon’s better nature — an appeal to overcome the natural man — and influence that person to let the community center/mosque be built without citing these social objections about poor taste or insensitivity? Do not our history and our scriptures demand as much?

    Also, a recent NY Times opinion piece points out that “the ‘ground zero mosque,’ . . . is not at ground zero. It’s not a mosque but an Islamic cultural center containing a prayer room.”

  43. “The Catholic and Protestant Bibles have different content”

    Nope. At best different translations/versions.

  44. The swimming pool and culinary school in the community center are the height of insensitivity. Unless they teach you to make really good kababs. Then all is forgiven. Mmmmhhh, kababs.

  45. Chris H (42), I got the memo, I’m just having a hard time processing it. It’s too simple. Either all followers of Islam are evil(including those building the community center) or they’re not. Once that’s been decided I’m not sure why this conversation is still happening. There is no war against Islam.

    It’s funny I followed a link to this post from Andrew Sullivan’s blog this morning without paying much attention. I didn’t realize this was the same one I’d already been commenting in. I guess more than just Mormons are interested in what faithful Latter-Day Saints think about it.

  46. I was thinking that maybe terrorists are considered evil, some people seem to think all Muslims are terrorists, or support terrorists, so Muslims are evil. Thus, evil people aren’t allowed to build near Ground Zero.

    Your asking me to make sense of people I myself don’t understand.

  47. I have, thus far, seen no compelling reason for this mosque or Islamic community center not to be built on the site that the Muslims currently own, except for the sheer fact that it has generated a lot of opposition and controversy.

    Sometimes it’s best to step away from confrontation.

    But sometimes it’s not. And I’m worried that giving in to what I regard as unjustified opposition will only give that kind of opposition a victory it doesn’t deserve, and strengthen it, and that it will provide yet another propaganda weapon for the extremists.

    If the Latter-day Saints always backed down when opposition to an announced temple materializes, we would build very few temples.

  48. Every argument against the building of the mosque/community center/cooking school/falafel stand/etc. suffers from three major problems:

    1. It assumes that every one of the 1.6 billion Muslims in the world are members of al Qaeda–or at least fellow-travelers.

    2. It assumes that Islam in all its branches and diversity is the enemy of the United States.

    3. It assumes that two blocks from the World Trade Center site is adjacent to that site, or can be seen from that site, or is on a street leading to it which will cause offense to all the real Americans making their pilgrimage down to the WTC site to buy souvenirs from the Pakistani immigrant souvenir sellers down there.

    All of those assumptions are false.

    In addition to those errors, Mormons who oppose the building of the mosque simply don’t believe what Joseph Smith wrote in the 11th Article of Faith. And they appear to be completely and blissfully ignorant of the opposition that the Church faces in virtually every place outside of the Mormon corridor–from Snowflake, AZ, on the south to Rexburg, ID, on the north–where a temple is constructed. Because the same arguments (“Yeah, we don’t dispute your first amendment right to practice your false religion. Just do it somewhere else.”) are used against us.

  49. Dan #57: Your worries are echoed by a self-described “liberal, progressive, secularized American Muslim,” who writes:

    The fear is that this [anti-Islam sentiment] may lead to the same kind of radicalization among Muslim youth in the U.S. that we’ve seen in Europe. It has already played into the hands of al-Qaida, which has for years been trying to convince American Muslims that the unfettered religious freedoms they enjoy is a mirage — that the U.S. will eventually turn against its Muslim citizens.

    Are we in danger of proving al-Qaida right?

  50. Seriously, though, this is a real concern. As I mentioned on facebook recently, why does anti-semetic scapegoating and the marginalization of Muslim minorities have to be the European social/political traditions that we choose to follow?

  51. There is also this link that follows up on the one just posted by Mike Parker. It explains how the terrorist networks are using the vehement, hateful screeds from the anti-NYC Mosque crowd to boil their own followers into a frenzy.

    This isn’t going to end well.

  52. James #61: I think you’re right. It’s odd how often we Americans end up with foreign-policy results that we don’t want, but that were created by our own misguided actions.

    (Unless, of course, one wants total war with Islam, which some commentators have claimed is the ultimate goal of the American anti-Islam movement.)

  53. I’m not a Mormon, but I grew up in Arizona and have many relatives who are, and I think this is a very thoughtful contribution to the discussion.

  54. It takes a strong person to examine their prejudices with open eyes. Give these some thought:

    1. To those who protest this as an inappropriate use of “sacred” land, or a “battlefield,” or the like: Where are your protests against the building of a for-profit office building with restaurants, shops, etc on the actual ground zero? (Note that this center is not proposed for ground zero.)

    2. To those who are concerned with the feelings of “survivors”: Who, exactly, are you speaking of? Are survivors spouses of people killed? Parents? Children? Siblings? Cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, grandchildren? Second cousins, in-laws, step-children, great-uncles? Friends? Colleagues and co-workers? Members of the same congregation, bowling league, book club? People from the same neighborhood, home town, or state? Those of the same nationality? All Americans? All citizens of the world? Or maybe all non-Muslims?

    3. Also to those who claim concern with offense to “survivors”: Once you have arbitrarily defined the group (see #2 above), please identify the particular survivor whose opinion you are quoting. Or were you just speaking for someone else without asking them? What if two survivors disagree? Who wins?

    4. Worth mentioning again: The site in question is not ground zero and the proposed building in question is not a mosque. Just so you know.

    See, my point is this: I am against this mosque because I don’t like Islam. Never did. I think it is a bad religion and damages people and causes more harm than it does good. But see, I don’t go around lying about how I feel, using false justifications and fabricated facts. Be honest people, examine yourselves: Are you engaging in a sincere argument using consistent arguments or are you engaging in bigotry and hypocrisy?

    Me, I’m a bigot but open one, and I’m no hypocrite: I feel the same way about all religions. But what I really can’t stand is these false, hollow arguments design to hide bigotry and hypocrisy. That is the sign of a weak mind.

  55. I don’t have anything new to add to the debate other than my own opinion:

    Build it….They’re Americans and they own the land. The Constitution and our own scriptures protect and even promote their right to do so. It will be a terrible day and set a shameful precedent if this community center is ultimately stopped.

  56. “And that law of the land which is constitutional, supporting that principle of freedom in maintaining rights and privileges, belongs to all mankind, and is justifiable before me.” — D&C 98:5

    Personally, I’ve been disappointed to see so many Mormons willing to throw the Constitution under a bus since 9/11 in the name of “security.” If the Constitution hangs by a thread, it isn’t the elders who are going to save it anymore; it’s the elders who DID it.

  57. You mentioned gay “radicals” protesting at temples. I’m not sure that those who protest at LDS Temple sites for the Church’s involvment in Prop 8 can be described as radicals. But their protests would not be against the Church’s right to build temples or use its property as it deems fit.
    One could make the point that LDS involvment in passing a law that takes away a gay couple’s right to marry is an attempt by the Church to impose its own faith-based conception of marriage as a sacred institution on to the public in general, when the laws of the US view marriage as a SECULAR institution. (Indeed, the law MUST view a marraige as a totally SECULAR institution in order to protect the rights of all American to view it as sacred within the context of their own personal religious convictions. After all, if the government were to regard marriage as “sacred” the next question would be “Sacred in what way?” and then “Who determines what is sacred and what is not?” This would lead to the government entering into a theological debate, and coming to a theological conclusion–which would most certainly offend a large segment of the general population.)
    I suppose the point I’m trying to make is that the Church’s involvment in Prop 8 was certainly in line with those who now argue that a Mosque should not be built in lower Manhattan. Both are attempts to target unpopular religious beliefs and practices. (Most Gays I know who have gotten married, did so in a religious service of some sort; they think of their marriages as spiritual and as a good in the sight of God; considering that the gay marriage debate heated up in the mid-90’s when some United Methodist ministers began performing same sex marriage, there can be no doubt that belief in same-sex marraige is, for many, a religious belief.

  58. These are all good points and I can understand both sides. But, for me the issue isn’t so much “should they be allowed to build so close to ground zero?” The issue for me is . . . should we allow ANY person who has intentions to destroy America to even LIVE in our country, let alone build a mosque or church or temple here. That’s a strong statement, I know. And, I don’t pretend to have all of the facts. But, there is an awful lot that doesn’t smell right about this man’s plan and objectives here. From what I have read, I have come to the conclusion that Imam Rauf really hopes that America will become Sharia Compliant. That is a scary possibilty — it’s already happening in Great Britain. We do need to let people worship how where and what they may, but we also need to be watchful and vigilant in protecting our liberty and freedom. I see it slipping away and want to be able to say that I did all I could do to protect this great country from people who would destroy it (from the inside or the outside).

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