Everyone will have heard of the plans that a mosque is to be built not too far from the place where the World Trade Center towers fell on 11 September 2001. Nor will the opposition in some quarters have gone unnoticed. Even our national madman, Geert Wilders, plans to protest the planned construction next month. You’d think he’d be too busy creating a coalition agreement he bears no responsibility for.
Anyway, back to the mosque (if only to keep the blood pressure down). I am, quite frankly, disappointed to see that Catholic websites, notably among them Rorate Caeli, join in the fear-mongering, painting a picture as if there is some holy war going on between Islam and Christianity. For the record, I am not a fan of Islam. I don’t agree with its tenets (I would have been a Muslim otherwise), and I think that it more easily leads to violence than most other faiths. But I will always support a Muslims right to express his belief and worship where he wants to (albeit not in Catholic churches, of course. Worship, but be sensible about it. Isn’t that one of the foundations of the Catholic faith>? I think so.
Anyway, this mosque in New York, which won’t even be visible from Ground Zero, should be allowed out of the cherished freedom of religion that exists in the United States and most other civilised countries. And that freedom is not limited to Christianity, of course. It is thanks to this freedom, even though it is challenged more and more, that we Catholics can live our faith and worship in our own churches. To deny others the same right undermines the freedom we enjoy and renders it invalid. After all, freedom of religion is not a matter of faith or dogma. It is a legal measure, and as such not connected to any faith at all, and since it concerns all of society, that is where it belongs. Whether it is right or wrong can of course be discussed, like all legalities can, but as long as we make use of it and support it as Catholics, our protests when others want to exercise the same right have no basis in reality.
And as for the concerns that that mosque will tarnish the memories of those who died in 9/11? Rubbish. Any person capable of rational thought will realise that the terrorists acted out of terrorist motives. Perhaps their being Muslim made them more likely to be corrupted, but an unstable Christian runs the exact same risk. Look at the various crazy sects, founded on some misshapen form of Christianity, that exist.