Permissible Does Not Equal Beneficial

The plans of an Islamic group to build a Mosque a few blocks from Ground Zero has recently ignited a firestorm of controversy among our nations diverse cultural and ethnic populations and  the political pundits and media groups have fanned the flames. It’s an undeniable fact that there are going to be actions in our nation that by their very existence are going to be controversial, and this is indeed the case with what is known as the Cordoba Initiative, which is now being called the “Park 51 Project.”

The question about the constitutionality of building a Mosque in this location isn’t and never has been the key issue. The First Amendment of our Constitution guarantees the free exercise of one’s religion;

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;”   

The Cordoba Initiative is free under our constitution to build a Mosque or cultural center anywhere they want to in accordance with the laws and building codes of the given location.

We live in the “freest” country on earth, having more personal freedoms than any other nation in the history of the world, but just because someone has the “right” and ability under our laws to do something, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it should be done. There are many things in life that we are “allowed to do, but that freedom doesn’t mean that they are always “advisable” for us to do. The building of this Mosque is just such a situation… Allowed YES! Advisable… NO!  

Though written specifically to Christians the words of the Apostle Paul are great words of wisdom that one would do good to heed in such a situation;

“Everything is permissible”—but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible”—but not everything is constructive. Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others.”                                  

(1st Corinthians 10:23-24)

Across the United States, families of the September 11th Terrorist attack victims have come out against the project being built in the vicinity of Ground Zero. We live in a nation where we are constantly being told that we need to be conscious of the feelings of those around us in regard to our actions, and many family members of the victims feel that to build a Mosque in such a place is insensitive to those who lost their lives. While most Muslim American leaders and organizations support the project as an act of friendship and peace, others oppose it as an unnecessary provocation.

Even some Islamic terrorist organizations have weighed in on the controversy. Mahmoud al-Zahar, who is Hamas chief of the Gaza Strip, said of the planned Cordoba Initiative;

 “We have to build everywhere,” and “In every area we have, Muslim, we have to pray, and this mosque is the only site of prayer.” 

Really? It’s the “only” site of prayer, what about the other dozen or so Mosques that already exist in Manhattan? One would think that if the Initiative directors were trying to promote an improvement of “Muslim/West relations” they would be more responsive to the concerns that are being raised, which at this point they appear not to be.

As to what should be done in this situation, I think William Bennett who served as Education Secretary under President Ronald Regan had some great insight. He suggested that Muslims should learn from the events surrounding a Catholic convent near the Auschwitz concentration camp. A group of well meaning Carmelite nuns opened a convent just outside of Auschwitz, with the aim to pray for the souls of all who had died in that atrocity. However when Jewish leaders protested, viewing the action as insensitive, Pope John Paul II ordered the nuns to relocate. They closed the doors of the convent and moved it. If a Muslim group wants to build another Mosque in Manhattan, they can do it, it’s just advisable that they exercise some common sense in the matter and move it away from Ground Zero. It seems to me that we are experiencing yet another instance where the “double standard” is prevailing. As Americans we are expected to be be sensitive to Islamic sensibilities but it seems that Muslims needn’t be saddled with such expectations.

Serious questions have also been raised concerning the funding of this project. Some congressional leaders such as Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman, and New York Representatives Peter King and Rick Lazio asked for an investigation of the group’s finances, especially its foreign funding. However defenders of the project including State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg have summarily rejected demands for investigation of the financial aspects of the project claiming that such action would violate the First Amendment rights of the group to the free exercise of religion.  Unfortunately Cuomo and Bloomberg are forgetting that the constitutional provision to free exercise of religion was never meant to serve as a cover for extremist or potentially criminal activities that may indeed threaten our national security.  

So what information is being given about those behind the Cordoba Initiative, about its mission, leadership, and financial backing? In a word very little! They did however release a statement about the name of the project. The following is from their blog which can be found here –

www.cordobainitiative.wordpress.com/2010/06/08/cordoba-a-city-of-historical-significance/ 

“Often people ask why the name Cordoba is used for the work of our organization.  It was chosen before, and is reaffirmed because of the rich history of religious collaboration promoted by 11th Century Cordoba, Spain. At that time, Cordoba was the capital of the Muslim world, yet it set itself apart with the how it respected the Christian and Jewish populations.  Each respective community was given religious freedom, and the ability to self-govern their own communities.  For instance, Hasdai ben Shaprut, the governor of the Jewish community, became an influential minister to the Caliph, increasing his people’s well-being and turning Cordoba into the most significant center of Jewish learning and culture in the world. This collaborative energy had a significant impact.  Cordoba quickly became the world’s center for science, philosophy, and commerce.  That is why we chose the name Cordoba Initiative, because our mission is to bridge the gap between the West and Muslim world in collaboration, with dignity and respect.”

First of all I would like to know which history book they are reading from? Also if the name “Cordoba,” is such a grand example of collaboration and unity between religions, why has the project name been changed to “The Park 51 Project?” Could it perhaps be that the meaning behind the name “Cordoba,” has nothing to do with peace and has showed the ludicrous nature of the facade of peace that Imam Feisal Rauf and his backers are presenting to the world? 

The original Cordoba Mosque was created from a gutted and renovated Catholic Cathedral, when the Muslims conquered that region of Spain. At the time centers of power were the churches, which the Muslims converted into Mosques. In America the centers of power are our financial districts. Is history repeating itself? We each have to decide the answer to that one for ourselves.

To understand what’s at stake here we have to consider a couple of key questions; First who is the man behind the project?  Secondly we have to know the viewpoint of the religion that he’s representing? Answering these questions presents the needed insight to determine to the best of our ability if this project will accomplish its stated aim, to “improve Muslim-West relations.”    

So first off we have to ask the question; who is Feisal Abdul Rauf?

According to the Cordoba Initiative website He is the selected Imam (Religious Cleric) and chairman of the “Cordoba Initiative” In 1997 he founded the American Society for Muslim Advancement (ASMA) an organization dedicated to bringing Muslim and non-Muslim Americans together through programs in academia, policy, current affairs and culture. He has regular ties to the Council on Foreign Relations, (let’s leave the conspiracy theories where why belong; in area 51) and is an advisor to the interfaith Center of New York. For those interested, his full bio can be found here –

www.cordobainitiative.org/?q=content/staff-bios#Imam%20Feisal%20Abdul%20Rauf

Though his bio sounds quite impressive it should also be noted that Rauf is also the author of a book entitled

What’s Right with Islam Is What’s Right with America

The title of the book gives the impression that it’s one that would promote understanding between Islam and the Judeao-Christian majority in the United States. But the title of the book is deceiving, given that it’s been published in Malaysia under the title

A Call to Prayer from the World Trade Center Rubble: Islamic Dawa [Muslim Evangelism] in the Heart of America Post-9/11 (Emphasis mine)   

And who was responsible for the publishing of this book? It was none other than the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) and the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT) both organizations have been known supporters of the terrorist organization Hamas. Not only are these groups supporters of Hamas, both the ISNA and IIIT were unindicted co-conspirators in the Justice Departments terrorism financing case against the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, which funneled tens of millions of dollars to Hamas for its terrorist activities.

It should also be noted that Hamas has been a designated terrorist organization by the United States for more than 15 years and according to its charter is wholly dedicated to the complete and utter destruction of Israel.  

“Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it.”    

(Hamas Charter)

As to the religious, political, and socio-economic viewpoint of Islam consider the following;

So does Islam hold any political beliefs that run in opposition to the freedoms that our founding documents guarantee? In Islam is there equality under the law, in areas of gender and minorities? In Islam is the government allowed to operate independently of religion? In Islam are there allowances for the free and open exercise of other religions? The answer to these questions is NO!  Islam is a political ideology masquerading as a religion; there is indeed a religious component, but the religious aspect is by design inseparable from the ideological and social standards attached to it.   Wherever Islam, and the Sharia law that accompany it prevail in a nation, all religious and political freedom is eventually given a death sentence. Evidence for this is clearly seen in the current conflicts in Western Europe where the spread of Islam has made major gains over the past two decades.

A Snapshot of History…

Islam was founded by a Muhammad, a clever power hungry individual who was obsessed with imperialistic world domination, and ethno-religious cleansing. He framed his desires in the context of a religion to give it validity. Islam claims to be of Abrahamic decent, which isthe origin of both Judaism and Christianity. But when one compares the beliefs and history of Islam to Judaism and Christianity, it becomes apparent that they aren’t related to one another. Though they may be an ethnic connection, Islam isn’t an offspring of God’s covenant with Abraham as it claims; the evidence simply isn’t there to support that accretion. The god of Islam and the God of Abraham aren’t the same God. Islam and Christianity aren’t compatible with one another, they never have been and they never will be. 

So we see that Islam is not simply a world religion, it’s is a brutal totalitarian political ideology that seeks to conquer and enslave others under a dictatorial theocracy. That statement sounds harsh, and the reality of it is. It’s imperative that no one hears what I’m not saying. I’m NOTsaying that all Muslims are jihadists, and I’m NOT saying that all Muslims are terrorists. Far from being sadistic individuals bent on destruction, most Muslims are peace loving individuals who are enslaved by religion that is bent on world domination and destruction of those who won’t submit to its totalitarian ideology. Some who read this will call me a racist a bigot, or say that I suffer from Xenophobia. Those labels are inaccurate, but are ones that for some, specifically those who are incapable or unwilling to carry on a civilized dialogue, are the only means of response that they know how to use. To clarify a point; opposition to the location of the Mosque doesn’t make a person a bigot, a racist, or a Xenophobe.

So the question has to be asked; How should we as Christians approach and relate to our Muslim neighbors? The answer to that one is simple, yet often hard to live out in our overcharged politically correct society. We should love our Muslim neighbors; while at the same time speak the truth about what Islam is and what its goals are. Christians sometimes fail to follow the path of love and mercy Jesus modeled for us. That being said we must always remember that one of the key components of love is a commitment of accountability to the truth. We should pray that all Muslim’s would reject their false god and come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. The great commission was given to us as a command, not a suggestion. The command to first “Love God,” and secondly to “Love Others” was also a command not a suggestion. Scripture maintains that God loves and wants a relationship with every person in the world; this includes everyone on every side of this argument.     

So in my opinion, after looking at the avaliable information in respect to the above asked questions it is appears to me that the program is nothing more than a move to erect a triumphal monument to Jihad and Sharia Law overlooking the great scar on Manhattan Island where the twin towers of the World Trade Center once stood. A place where it must be remembered that thousands of were slaughtered in the name of Allah. If more information is provided down the road in response to such questions, my oppinion would be re-evaluated. Despite what is being said in the press by the Cordoba Initiative officials and their supporters this project isn’t a test of America’s constitutional commitment to religious liberty. America already has thousands of Mosques and Islamic centers stretching from Washington D.C. to Los Angeles establishing the fact of our nation’s commitment to religious freedom for all, including Muslims. We don’t need a Mosque, just footsteps from Ground Zero, to prove a point that has already been well established.   This project will not promote harmony as is claimed, but will only serve to re-open the wounds of those whose loved ones perished on 9/11.

In light of the outrage voiced by some of the pundits and political commentators who are accusing anybody who opposes the Cordoba Initiative of being racist and bigoted xenophobes, I have yet one more question. Where is the outrage from these same people at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey who have drug their feet and reneged on promises made to St. Nicolas Greek Orthodox church concerning the rebuilding of their facility that was destroyed on 9/11, which by the way was the only church destroyed in the terrorists attacks, a church that had been on the site since 1922.

For nine years now the Port Authority has used bureaucratic obstacles and false promises to hinder the rebuilding of the St. Nicholas Church, while at the same time the  government bends over backwards to facilitate the building of a Mosque nearby. Though the particulars of the two projects are completely different and on the surface unrelated, the church and its supporters see a disconnect in the way the proposals have been handled.  If any house of worship should be allowed near Ground Zero it should first and foremost be St. Nicolas, and of that fact there should be no debate!

The Cordoba Initiative is a project that will test America’s resolve to face down an imperialistic jihad that aims, in the words of its leaders, “to destroy America from within.” This argument isn’t about the denial of religious liberty; it’s about the preservation of our national security, in the face of threat from radical Islam. In our country true freedom of religion should start with giving our own Judeo-Christian heritage the respect it deserves. To those in roles of authority in this situation all I can say is; How about respecting the wisdom of the majority of citizens for a change?

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About Jim

I'm currently the Communications Director for Missouri Operation for Vigorous Evangelism [MOVE] A Church planting ministry located in Jefferson City, MO. I believe that the church is the primary means through which God works in a community to love and redeem it. Here at MOVE we’re discovering new ways to be used for this purpose as God leads us and lights His path for us. As God forms this organization and shapes it for a new kind of world I want to be right in the middle of what He’s doing, traveling on this road of a disciple’s journey.

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