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The Ground Zero Mosque: Why or Why Not?


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Hugh Hewitt:

Hugh Hewitt

Reactions are piling up to the proposed "Ground Zero Mosque." An important vote will be held on the project today. Here's a photo from Wikipedia on the proposed location of the projected 10-story mosque, which is circled in red:


Dan Senor's proposed open letter in today's Wall Street Journal is brilliant, while Peter Beinart's in the Daily Beast disappoints because it doesn't answer the central question of whether the mosque should be allowed to be built but chooses rather to attack the Anti-Defamation League which opposes construction.


Should it be allowed to be built?

If not, why not?

And if the city approves the project, ought the federal government to attempt to stop it?

These are three of the most interesting questions at the heart of American life today, and they ought to be posed not just to New Yorkers and pundits, but to every single candidate for Congress now and in 2012 and of course to President Obama and those who would seek to replace him.


Opponents of the Ground Zero mosque thus have to be prepared to answer the question of whether they would oppose the construction of a diocesan Catholic church or a church plant from Tim Keller's Redeemer Pres or a new LDS stake on the same site or any site damaged by the attacks of 9/11 and thus in need of rebuilding.

There has got to be one rule, and that one rule may not in the American constitutional tradition discriminate between faiths.

(There is an argument that this stream of the Supreme Court's case law went very badly wrong, and that unique status for Judeo-Christian traditions as opposed to all of the other great traditions on the part of government would not have offended the intent of the Framers, but I am writing here about the Constitution as it has been interpreted to date. For a review of what those other "great traditions" are, see Patheos.com.)

Here's my short set of answers.

I do not believe the Ground Zero mosque should be built.

I oppose it because the land and buildings damaged by the assault are now part of the sacred space of America's great civic religion. I would oppose the construction of any sectarian project there that wasn't a rebuild of an existing sectarian use for the same reason.

There is no formal designation for the sacred spaces of America's civic religion though they extend from the Mall to the Arizona Memorial. The land around Ground Zero is very much part of that space, and any project that politicizes it or brings a religious purpose to those sites should be refused.



Ready on the left
Ready on the right
Ready on the firing line

COMMENCE firing.
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