The Episcopal Church is a member of the Interfaith Relations Commission of the National Council of Churches which issued a statement defending the right of Muslims to build a center near the World Trade Center,
August 11, 2010
Christ calls us to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt. 22:39). It is this commandment, more than the simple bonds of our common humanity, which is the basis for our relationship with Muslims around the world.
Grounded in this commitment, we question the anti-Muslim tenor of actions and speech regarding the building of Cordoba House and mosque near the site of the former World Trade Center in New York City. We are keenly aware that many Muslims, as well as Jews, Christians, Hindus, and others, lost family members in the attacks on September 11, 2001. We recognize, as does the Muslim community around the world, that it was a group of Muslims who embraced terrorism and teachings counter to the Qur’an and Islam that carried out this action. We stand with the majority of Muslims—including American Muslims—who are working against such radical influences in their communities. They have our support for building the Cordoba House as a living monument to mark the tragedy of 9/11 through a community center dedicated to learning, compassion, and respect for all people. This effort is consistent with our country’s principle of freedom of religion, and the rights all citizens should enjoy.
Some Episcopalians have also expressed their views on the controversy. Here are two:
Tobias Haller writes:
When one strips away the bold xenophobia about the “Mosque at Ground Zero” — which is neither a mosque nor at ground zero — one finds something else. Set to one side the brazen observations that suggest all Muslims are terrorists at heart, and you will find the more genteel bigotry that calls upon minorities to be sensitive to the concerns of the intolerant. This is the language of, “Some of my best friends are… but I wouldn’t want one to marry my daughter.”
It is all the more appalling to see African-Americans, such as our president, simultaneously (or serially) support the right but question the wisdom of the Park51 project, or for Governor Paterson to enter into the hustle to “relocate” the project to a more distant property.
Have both of them forgotten, “There goes the neighborhood” and “They need to know their place”?
Kendall Harmon writes:
You have to distinguish between issues of law/rights and issues of prudence. What do the families of the victims think, what do those in New York think should be crucial questions to be answered if they choose that site to build a Mosque on at this particular time. In theology, there is a principle of subsidiarity–those closest to a problem issue are often best equipped to handle the decision about it and the responsibility for it.
Kendall’s post has drawn considerable comment worth engaging, many of which echo the views of Michael Russell’s No Surrender on the First Amendment.
In unrelated news, a growing number of Americans say Obama is Muslim.