Freedom? Yes! Mosque? No!
Political Advocacy Tracker is a roundup of what Christian activist organizations have been talking about the past week.
It's Not About Liberty
New York City officials approved the building of the so-called "Ground Zero Mosque" last week, but some religious liberty advocates continue to decry the decision.
Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC), said one could be against the center while still maintaining that the group should have the freedom to have a mosque in lower Manhattan.
Speaking on Public Radio International's To the Point, Land said, "We have consistently defended religious freedom, separation of church and state. And we believe that Muslims certainly have the right to build mosques, to have places of worship that are convenient to them in their communities … I certainly defend the right of Muslims to have mosques and places of worship in lower Manhattan but not, not at Ground Zero."
BreakPoint's Chuck Colson co-wrote the Manhattan Declaration, a document that places religious liberty next to life and marriage as leading issues of Christian conscience. But he was "distressed—aghast, in fact—over the controversy about building a mosque at ground zero." For Colson, the issue was not a question of religious liberty.
"The construction of the mosque at ground zero is not about tolerance. And it isn't about religious liberty. This is about prudence: the good sense to do what is right," said Colson. "If [Muslims]—and Mayor Bloomberg—don't have the prudence to respect the sensibilities of others, then Congress ought to step in. With the upcoming elections, I'm sure your congressman will be all ears to your concerns."
Family Research Council's (FRC) Ken Blackwell disagreed with those who "see the building of a mosque within sight of the place where 3,000 Americans were murdered on 9/11 as a test of American tolerance and openness." He said President Obama should "take a strong stance against any mosque at Ground Zero" and "stand up for Americans this time!"
Faith in Public Life announced that 40 Christian, Jewish, and Muslim leaders signed a statement saying they were "deeply troubled by the xenophobia and religious bigotry that has characterized some of the opposition to a proposed Islamic center and mosque near where the World Trade Center towers once stood." Evangelicals (with the exception of New York Faith and Justice executive director Lisa Sharon Harper*) were noticeably absent from the list of signers. Jim Wallis and Joel Hunter did not sign the statement, but each wrote in support of the center on the Washington Post On Faith blog.
Correction (8/16): An earlier version of this article had erroneously said that Lisa Sharon Harper had not signed the Faith in Public Life document. She did sign it, and sent this further clarification: "Tobin Grant got it wrong when he said my signature was 'noticeably absent from the list' of signers to the Faith in Public Life statement in support of the Cordoba House. I gladly signed the statement and my name is the fifth name on the list. As an African American I know something about red-lining. As an American I have a deep value for religious freedom. As a Christian a pillar of my faith is forgiveness and a core value is hospitality. The Muslim world did not commit the atrocity of 9/11. An extremist terrorist organization did that. The Cordoba House was conceived as a community center where all are welcome—a symbol of reconciliation and embrace. Fear is no excuse for confused language and blurred lines. Truth is truth. Jesus said 'I am the way and the truth and the life.' To silence truth, is to silence Jesus himself. Sarah Palin and Rush Limbaugh would do well to remember that." We apologize for the error.