Sunday, August 8, 2010

Why Jews Should Support Mosque Near Ground Zero

Guest Voices: On Faith at Washingtonpost.com by Rabbis David Ellenson and Robert Levine
The authors conclude:
Since 9/11, many Muslims have felt similar broad brush rejection just because they practice the faith of Islam. No distinctions among Muslims are made by their critics. Blame and derision are unconscionably hurled upon an entire faith. History has well taught us how indecent and immoral it is when an entire faith group is held culpable for the acts of a few.

An Islamic Center and mosque north of Ground Zero will make the powerful statement that persons of all religious faiths can stand together as children of God. Historic memory requires us to behave with simple decency and affirm the proposed plan of our moderate and law-abiding Muslim sisters and brothers to construct this Center. We look forward to the day when we can join together with our colleagues of all faiths in dedicating this religious center which will represent the triumph of love over hate, humanity over insanity.
While I agree with much of their sentiments, the authors' arguments and conclusion confuse the legitimacy of building mosques in the United States with building an Islamic Center so near to Ground Zero.  It should go without saying that the government should never interfere with or prevent the building of any religious institutions in any location.  This is the essence of our country's founding principle of freedom of religion.  The question at hand however is the propriety of building a mosque at Ground Zero or for that matter, any particular religious institution at this specific site.  I would again advocate that only an interfaith center would be appropriate.  I appeal to the leaders of Cordoba House to transform their particular Islamic vision into a universal American religious ideal.  Let us together build a uniquely American interfaith center.

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