Trophy Mosque

August 31, 2010

At lunch, yesterday, I wandered by this building in downtown Manhattan.  There was a cluster of people in front, including a couple holding signs defending the rights of American citizens to build a mosque and community center if they want to.  I asked why they were protesting there and was told that this was the building where the mosque was to be built.  Clueless to time and space as usual, I had not even noticed what street I was on.

A stocky white woman was ranting to a lithe black man with a video camera about how this project is an offensive “trophy mosque.”   She compared it to the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, the oldest Islamic building in the world, which she said was built as a commemoration of Moslem conquests in that region.  Wikipedia makes no mention of this, saying it was built as a shrine for pilgrims to the site that is holy to Christians, Moslems, and Jews, and was not even planned as a place of regular worship.

It’s hard to imagine the local community boards and zoning reviews allowing a structure as eye-catching as the golden dome to be built on Park Place in Manhattan, but I guess that’s what people in the No-Mosque crowd fear.  The ranting lady conveyed with winks, nods, sarcasm and other broad rhetorical devices her absolute dismissal of the notion that the backers of the project are anything but evil agents of a foreign power – nation? religion? terrorist group?  Obviously they are not what they pretend to be – Americans who want to build a cultural center near where many of them work and live. 

It wasn’t too long ago that Jews were subject to this same sort of vile bigotry in America.  Being Jews, they must be loyal to a foreign entity.  Before the state of Israel existed, it was supposed to be some sort of international cabal of cannibals and bankers.  And Catholics too were treated the same way.  After all, they are not true Americans since their allegiance is actually to the pope.  JFK was rumored to be under the pontiff’s thumb.  A fifth-column of popery in DC!

Un-Separate Church and State!

November 10, 2005

Yes, all this blather about the ‘wall’ between church & state is growing tiresome. Let us forget the lessons that the Founding Fathers knew so well and start down the road of government sponsorship of religion! Jeeez, those fundamentalists don’t know what they are wishing for.

To stifle the thriving growth of religiosity in America (a condition which I regard with bemused regret), there is no more sure-fire way than to get the government involved in subsidizing it. Then we secularists can sit back and enjoy the ensuing melee as the various sects all fight with one another to get more money, to be the official sect, and to deny access to those few sects that ‘everyone’ agrees are not true religions, e.g., Pagans, Satanists, Hindus (idolaters), and perhaps Jews and Moslems! Then the meaning of state-sponsored religion will be apparent, but will it be too late?

Of course, it might get out of hand, so I wouldn’t really want to go down that road. After all, we should all keep in mind the event that is the source for the eye-witness account recorded in the image at the top of this post, St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre, August 24, 1572. A real state-sponsored Christian on Christian pogrom in which the French king authorized the mass murder of French Protestants. When Church and State are joined, as an intelligent man said at a talk I heard recently, the king speaks with the authority of the universe, and the priest’s words are backed by the power of the state. What recourse for the dissenting individual?

Some people these days are purveying the absurd myth that the Founding Fathers of the USA actually wanted to found a Christian state. I guess that depends on who you consider to be the Founders: the Puritans? They wanted a theocracy, to be sure, and were very eager to exile anyone from their midst who didn’t toe the line, e.g. Roger Williams; Ben Franklin, TJ, Alex H. etc? They were the opposite, schooled in Deistic Enlightenment values. They may have been Christians, but they wanted a secular state. And from where did the most vigorous support for separation of Church & State come? From Virginia, home to many evangelical sects, all persecuted in England, and very clear on the dangers of having an official state religion. But time makes fools of us all…