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Mosques, churches and ground zeroes

17 August 2010

Over the past week or so I’ve been seeing an increasing amount of fuss being made on the Internet about a mosque being built at ground zero. I haven’t really followed the story, so I didn’t know what the fuss was about, but it was getting more and more insistent, so I began reading some of the blog posts about it but most seemed to be written assuming that everyone knew what has happened, or is happening, ir is about to happen. But even that is not clear.

St Nicholas Church, New York

To judge from this post: Ethics Forum: Mosque to Displace Greek Orthodox Church?, someone is planning to take the land that belonged to an Orthodox Church that was destroyed on 11 September 2001, and give it to someone else to build a mosque on. What is not clear is just who that “someone” is, and by what authority they are planning to do this.

Also, what is not clear is whether the land was owned by the church, and is now being expropriated by some authority, and sold to the group that wants to build the mosque, or whether is was just leased by the church, and the authority now wants to lease it to someone else.

Ad Orientem: Why does a new mosque take precedence over an already existing church? speaks only of the mosque taking precetence, rather than displacing the Orthodox Church, implying that it might be being built on a different site, and shows pictures of the church before it was destroyed.

But Clarissa’s Blog: “Ground Zero Mosque”, on the other hand, shows a picture of the site of the proposed mosque, and the existing building looks nothing like a church, and looks far to old and established to have been erected since the church was destroyed.

So who kiddeth whom?

Could it be that the “Ethics Forum” blog is actually spreading disinformation, and trying to create the impression that a mosque is “displacing” a church, when it is in fact being built on another site?

Or, as one Twitterer put it: In fairness, we’ve been building ‘ground zeros’ near Iraqi mosques since March 2003.

Sounds to me like a tempest in a teacup.

13 Comments leave one →
  1. Michael P. permalink
    17 August 2010 4:08 pm

    I’m a little confused by your judgment that the Ethics Forum is misleading. A careful reading of its post makes it clear that they are talking about two different sites. The church was destroyed by a falling tower, while the mosque is to be built a few blocks away. In fact, most news articles point out that the mosque is to be built at the site of a former Burlington Coat Factory (which is an American retailer, not a manufacturing site).

    I think Ethics forum is just lamenting that the Port Authority is dragging its heels in approving the rebuilding of the church, while they are not doing so in approving the building of a mosque in the same area.

    • 17 August 2010 8:14 pm

      Aye, but the heading is caluclated to create the impression that the church is bring displaced by the mosque. That’s disingenuous, to say the least.

  2. 17 August 2010 5:03 pm

    Okay, here are the facts as I understand them (gleaned from the great folks who comment at Slacktivist):

    1. The mosque and community center is being built on the site of an old Burlington Coat Factory store.
    2. The property is owned by the individuals who wish to build the mosque and community center.
    3. The property is two blocks away from the WTC site/”ground zero” and is not even visible from that location.
    4. The owners of the property received all the zoning and other approvals to build the mosque.
    5. Some people are upset, calling the mosque’s proximity to “ground zero” a “slap in the face.”
    6. The vast majority of the people saying this don’t even live in NYC.
    7. There is an Orthodox church that was at “ground zero” and got destroyed as a result of the 9/11 attacks.
    8. Due to the bureaucratic nightmare involved in building anything at “ground zero” the poor folks who attend that church have not yet been able to rebuild their beloved church. (I am quite sympathetic to their problem.)
    9. The Orthodox church and the mosque really have no connection to one another other than (1) the fact that they are both places of worship and (2) their proximity (and for the church, that’s an understatement) to “ground zero.”

    If the folks at the Ethic’s Forum are making it sound like the big bad Muslims are trying to wrestle land from Orthodox believers and build a mosque there, then yes, they are spreading disinformation. In fact, I’d come right out and say they’re lying.

    • 17 August 2010 8:23 pm

      Thanks very much for that summary.

      It wouldn’t be the first time that what is claimed in the headline isn’t really justified in the body of the story, so it does, it seems, turn out to be a storm in a tea cup, being overhyped by the likes of the Ethics Forum blog trying to link two things that are not really linked.

      I only knew of it through subject lines in newsgorups, which seemed to be increasing in number, but I never downloaded the bodies of the stotries to read them because it was far away and I didn’t think it concerned me. It was opnly when i heard that this mosque would be displacing an Orthodox Church that I became interested in learning more about it. But from what you say, it sounds as though that was a lie, so I’ll return to my uninterested state.

  3. 17 August 2010 5:48 pm

    For on-the-ground (literally) coverage of the situation, please see here.
    Additionally, the location has been in use for several years now as a Muslim prayer space, so anyone saying any differently is pretty much attempting to stir up fear and hatred (an issue we’ve been having here in the US a lot.)

  4. 18 August 2010 1:49 am

    The whole thing jumpped to national news becasue a Greek Man is running for Congress in New York and needed to jump start his campiagn. Yes the Church needs to be rebuilt but everyone needs to start telling the truth. Not that I like Fox News but they have a story that puts the fine point on it although it is one persons word over another. The land is not being taken in fact the Church was offered $20 million for the site. The Mosque is NOT being BUILT but it is being put into a building that already exists. Everyone needs to take a step back from this. Here is the link to the story:

    http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2010/08/17/ground-zero-church-archdiocese-says-officials-forgot/

    This headline is outrageous and actually a boldface lie!

    • 18 August 2010 3:54 am

      Steve, the last part of the post (the bit with Obama in it) seemed to have zero-ed in on the real issue.

      Blessings and bliss
      Brigid

    • 21 August 2010 9:10 am

      Thank you, Fr Peter, for that information. I think I’ve located the report that started the whole brouhaha, and as you say, it seems to be a politician trying to jump-start his election campaign.

      I agree entirely that the church should be rebuilt, but it seems that the target should be the City of New York or the Borough of Manhattan or the Port Authority of New York or whichever bunch of constipated bureaucrats needs to give whatever planning permission is required and instead have been sitting on their backsides doing nothing. Instead it seems to have become an Islamphobic flamefest.

  5. 18 August 2010 6:36 pm

    That last twitter comment is probably the best comment of all.

  6. 19 August 2010 11:42 pm

    Recently I posted this comment:

    “If you know any card games you understand the trump card… God trumps politicians! Forget religion, man’s inventions. God as revealed to us in Jesus and in the Word of God, both written and living, will overcome any human power. In Romans 9:17 God says to Pharaoh, “FOR THIS VERY PURPOSE I RAISED YOU UP, TO DEMONSTRATE MY POWER IN YOU, AND THAT MY NAME MIGHT BE PROCLAIMED THROUGHOUT THE WHOLE EARTH.” God will have His way. But we must become pliable in His hands. The Church must become Love and Power by His Spirit! We are not made for demonstrations, but for demonstrating the Kingdom – 1 Corinthians 2:4″

    In my flesh I wanted to tell Steve all kinds of things about the stated goal of Moslems to dominate the world and impose their religion; that nothing they say can be trusted. Just scratch below the surface, or not even stay on the surface, and you can get this picture. And for us, here in the US this does feel like a finger in the eye. It’s not just about permits and details of who owns what.

    From afar I always wondered what the real scoop was on apartheid, but I’m not sure I can spell it, let alone know something about it. Bottom line is, Jesus didn’t waste much time on the Romans, and we should do the same. I’m not suggesting separating ourselves completely, just keeping first things first… that is, seeking first the Kingdom of God FIRST, and the rest will come.

    • 20 August 2010 6:04 am

      In my flesh I wanted to tell Franco all kinds of things about the stated goal of Americans to dominate the world and impose their way of life and values; that nothing they say can be trusted. Just scratch below the surface, or not even stay on the surface, and you can get this picture.

      But then I was reminded of the Lenten prayer of St Ephraim:

      O Lord and Master of my life, take from me the spirit of sloth, despair, lust of power and idle talk; but give rather the spirit of chastity, humility, patience and love to Thy servant.

      Yea, O Lord and King, grant me to see my own transgressions and not to judge my brother, for blessed art Thou, unto ages of ages.

      O Lord, cleanse me a sinner.

  7. 20 August 2010 6:53 am

    Gotta love liberal America bashers. I’m glad you revealed what you really think Steve, this way I won’t waste my time trying to see through the rhetoric. God bless you. By the way, good prayer.

  8. Russ permalink
    21 August 2010 6:29 am

    I’m an American (we used to be on a mailing list together Steve, but so long ago I can’t remember which) with a pretty low view of mainstream media and Republican politicians, and I’m still amazed at how ridiculous this “controversy” is. Jarred gets it all right, but it’s worth noting two additional things: 1) roughly 30 Muslims died in the twin towers, and other Muslim emergency rescuers died attempting to help victims. With all the talk of respecting the families of victims, no one seems to count Muslim victims (so it’s kind of like American reporting on Iraq and Afghanistan, I guess). 2) Much of the resistance is based on how a mosque doesn’t belong on “holy,” “sacred,” “consecrated” ground. It’s a matter of American Civil Religion, not Christianity.

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