Saturday, August 14, 2010

A Muslim Mosque At New York City's Ground Zero Would Be Just As Inappropriate As An LDS Temple At The Mountain Meadows Massacre Site

Because the 9-11 attackers were all Muslims, a proposed Muslim mosque to be constructed near the site of New York City's Ground Zero has become a world-class political football, triggering strong emotions on both sides. A host of prominent politicos, including former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, have spoken out against it. A recent CNN poll found that 68 percent of those surveyed did not approve of building a mosque so close to Ground Zero. The fact that the site of the proposed mosque at 45-47 Park Place is separated by two full city blocks of towering buildings from the World Trade Center site has not mollified critics in the least.

In response, another host of equally prominent politicos have expressed support for the proposed mosque, including New York's present mayor Michael Bloomberg and President Barack Obama. At a White House dinner on August 13th, 2010 celebrating the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, Obama said that all Americans have the right to worship as they choose, which includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances. He opined that "This is America, and our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakeable."

While the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has not, and most likely will not, officially weigh in on the issue, some individual Mormons have expressed themselves publicly. In an article entitled "Only Muslims should decide whether to build Ground Zero mosque", published on July 30th by Mormon Times columnist McKay Coppins, Coppins asks why we are even debating the issue in the first place. He attributes opposition to anti-Muslim bigotry, and believes it could set a precedent for greater restrictions against the construction of LDS worship facilities in the future. He suggests that only Muslims should determine where their mosques are constructed.

But is this attitude consistent with normal procedure? Charles Krauthammer reminds us that one cannot just up and build a structure anywhere in this country without some degree of restraint. He writes, "America is a free country where you can build whatever you want — but not anywhere. That’s why we have zoning laws. No liquor store near a school, no strip malls where they offend local sensibilities, and, if your house doesn’t meet community architectural codes, you cannot build at all". The LDS Church faced recent battles over proposed temples in Phoenix and Philadelphia, and found it necessary to make concessions in order to satisfy critics to proceed with construction.

Consequently, it is entirely consistent -- and appropriate -- to ask Muslims to consider a compromise in this case, to include the possibility of building the mosque in a different location further away from Ground Zero. Why should Muslims get a free pass on this issue? Imagine the public outrage if the LDS Church were to announce the construction of a full-service chapel or a temple on the site of the Mountain Meadows Massacre. While anti-Mormons exaggerate the Massacre and try to represent it as a "conspiracy", the fact remains that an organized group of Mormons in southwest Utah gave way to the spirit of vigilantism, and, in concert with local Indian tribes, attacked and massacred the Fancher party in 1857. Brigham Young caught wind of it at the last moment and sent a messenger southward to try and stop it, but it was too late. Ironically, the date of the Massacre was September 11th, 1857. In deference to the memory of the victims, the LDS Church has memorialized the site and has not constructed any worship facilities thereupon.

The bottom line: If it would be inappropriate for the LDS Church to build a chapel or a temple on the Mountain Meadows Massacre site, it is just as inappropriate for Muslims to build a mosque so close to Ground Zero. Religion is merely a side issue; the real issues are location and sensitivity.

1 comment:

RBC-born and raised in Bk-and 3 blocks from the WTC on 9/11 said...

The site of the MMM is the middle of nowhere. If the church were to build something there, it would be because of the massacre. That is a far cry from building a mosque on Park Place. If I began to list how many other things are within a 2 block radius of the WTC site, you’d be reading this blog for several hours. The people behind building this mosque are not building it there because of 9/11.