Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Freedom of Religion?

So something has been bothering me the past few weeks. A proposal was made to build a mosque by Ground Zero in New York City back in May. The groups who own the land, the American Society for Muslim Advancement and the Cordoba Initiative, submitted their proposal to the Community Board of Lower Manahattan. They own the land and there were no zoning changes so, legally, they did not even have to go before the board. They went before the board as a courtesy to let them know what they were planning. The plan is for a 15 story community center to be built which would include the mosque, performance art center, gym, swimming pool, and additional public space. The Community Board unanimously supported the project. However, now the general population is chiming in and basically saying it would be a disgrace to build a mosque near ground zero and would tarnish the memories of those who died in the attacks of 9/11. In addition, a mosque was blocked from being built on Staten Islans as well as in one of the Southern States over the past couple of months.

I was raised Catholic and just about everyone who knows me knows that I'm Catholic. I've never hidden that fact and respect the fact that in the United States I have the freedom to practice whatever religion I want to. And I feel others can do the same as long as it does not hurt anyone else.

I also understand the hatred that stemmed from the attacks on 9/11, however, I feel a lot of that hatred is focused on the wrong group of people. I was in NYC on 9/11 and I do remember feeling hatred. I also remember feeling hatred toward the terrorists who attacked our country. Never once did I feel any sort of hatred to the Muslim community. I have many friends and co-workers who are Muslim and did not think any differently of them post-9/11.

That being said, there is no reason to block the building of a mosque anywhere in this country, short of zoning laws. We can't go through the rest of our lives blocking a specific religious group from advancing their religion because of terrorism.

Again, just about anyone who knows me knows that I am very proud to be an American but sometimes I really feel that this country is extremely hypocritical. You cannot have freedom of religion, but then block a religious group from building a house of worship. We can't have it both ways. I think we try so hard not to offend anyone that we end up stomping all over the fundamental rights that we should be able to enjoy as Americans.

Just remember that Muslims in this country are Americans too and there were 300 Muslims killed in the attacks on 9/11.