Posts Tagged With: ground zero

Today … in God, Pt 2: Wallis defends Cordoba house, Trump offers cash to buy it

Rev. Wallis Defends Imam Feisal, Plans to Build Cordoba House

WASHINGTON, DC – Feisal Abdul Rauf is good friend who I have known for many years.  I’ve had the pleasure to work beside him in building bridges between Muslims, Christians, and Jews.  His heart and commitment to the work of reconciliation between people of different faiths and backgrounds has always shone through in everything that Feisal and his wife, Daisy Khan, do.  They are genuine peacemakers, and I know this controversy about their dream of a multi-faith cultural center pains them deeply. I do not doubt for a second that every action they have taken towards building this Islamic Cultural Center has been with peace and reconciliation in mind.

When the story first broke in the New York Times this past December, it was met with little interest.  A moderate Muslim leader who had lived and worked in the community of lower Manhattan for 25 years hoping to build a cultural center was not considered controversial.  Unfortunately, there were those who saw this as a political opportunity to create conflict and division and stir up ideological passions through distorting Imam Feisal’s mission and purpose.  He told the nation last night that if he had ever imagined that his plans would cause this much hurt and distress he never would have proposed building the center where he did.

But I do not believe the center of the debate is merely the community center’s proximity to Ground Zero.  Across the country, the building and even existence of mosques are being protested, others are being vandalized, alarming attacks on individual Muslims are occurring and, now, a fringe group in Florida is planning to burn the Quran in the name of their extreme brand of Christianity. This conflict is really about the role that faith will play in America.  It is about whether or not we will accept Muslim Americans as true Americans or just second class citizens.  It is about whether we will blame or even associate millions of American Muslims and a billion Muslims world-wide for the actions of a small number of Muslims who try to use their brand of faith to murder innocent people. It is about whether or not the country will embrace a Muslim who seeks peace and wants to help rebuild lower Manhattan or reject him because of his religious beliefs. This is a test of our character; and we dare not fail it. ###

Jim Wallis is the president and CEO of Sojourners (for whom I am a columnist and contributing editor), the largest network of social justice Christians in the United States focused on the biblical call to social justice. Wallis is also author of the New York Times bestsellers God’s Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn’t Get It and The Great Awakening: Seven Ways To Change The World, Reviving Faith & Politics. His latest book is Rediscovering Values: On Wall Street, Main Street, and Your Street.

Sojourners’ mission is to articulate the biblical call to social justice, inspiring hope and building a movement to transform individuals, communities, the church, and the world. Visit, and

Donald Trump offers cash for “Ground Zero” mosque property, talks with TMZ’s Harvey Levin

Via TMZ:

Trump has offered to pay the owners of the property the amount they purchased the property for … plus an extra 25%.

As part of the deal, Trump is asking that the mosque be built at least 5 blocks from the WTC site.

Trump says he doesn’t even think his offer is a good business deal, but he’s doing it, “Because it will end a very serious, inflammatory, and highly divisive situation that is destined, in my opinion, to only get worse.”

Of course, Donald’s offer is all cash. No word yet on how the offer is being received by the property owner.

You can see Trump’s letter to the mosque’s investor(s) HERE:   

In an update posted late this afternoon, TMZ reports:

UPDATE:  The lawyer for the investor in the real estate partnership that controls the site just said Trump’s offer is “just a cheap attempt to get publicity and get in the limelight.”  But it looks like the investor is pissed off at Donald’s price, not the principle.

Categories: God. | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Today…in God: Weekend redux.

Charles M. Blow in the New York Times on Religious Outliers

With all of the consternation about religion in this country, it’s sometimes easy to lose sight of just how anomalous our religiosity is in the world.

A Gallup report issued on Tuesday underscored just how out of line we are. Gallup surveyed people in more than 100 countries in 2009 and found that religiosity was highly correlated to poverty. Richer countries in general are less religious.

But that doesn’t hold true for the United States.

Sixty-five percent of Americans say that religion is an important part of their daily lives. That is compared with just 30 percent of the French, 27 percent of the British and 24 percent of the Japanese.

I used Gallup’s data to chart religiosity against gross domestic product per capita, and to group countries by their size and dominant religions.

The cliché goes, “a picture is worth a thousand words.”

Assuming that this holds true for charts, here is mine.


Clay Farris Naff on “Stephen Hawking to God: Your services are no longer needed. God to Hawking: You so don’t get who I am.” Via Huffington Post

Stephen Hawking has touched off a Big Bang, and his publishers couldn’t be happier. But just like the original Big Bang, Hawking has created an explosion out of nothing.

In his latest book, the famed physicist says, “Because there are laws such as gravity, the Universe can and will create itself out of nothing. It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the Universe going.”

Hawking’s statement is no big deal. It’s not original, it’s not certain, and even if true it’s no threat to authentic faith.

Hawking may have abandoned the dappled language of his previous utterances for the harsh light of atheism, but there’s nothing new in what he says — not even for himself….


From USA Today via AP: Vatican decries stoning in Iran adultery case

The Vatican raised the possibility Sunday of using behind-the-scenes diplomacy to try to save the life of an Iranian widow sentenced to be stoned for adultery.

In its first public statement on the case, which has attracted worldwide attention, the Vatican decried stoning as a particularly brutal form of capital punishment.

Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi said the Catholic church opposes the death penalty in general.

It is unclear what chances any Vatican bid would have to persuade the Muslim nation to spare the woman’s life. Brazil, which has friendly relations with Iran, was rebuffed when it offered her asylum.

Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani was convicted in 2006 of adultery. In July, Iranian authorities said they would not carry out the stoning sentence for the time being, but the mother of two could still face execution by hanging for adultery and other offenses.


Deepak Chopra on “Right thinking and wrong thinking about Muslims” in the Washington Post

Earlier this year Gallup provided two intriguing statistics about Americans and their view of Islam: 53 percent of Americans view Islam unfavorably compared with 42 percent who view the religion favorably. Majorities view other major religions favorably: 91 percent for Christianity, 71 percent for Judaism and 58 percent for Buddhism. The negativity comes even as 63 percent of Americans said they know little about Islam.

It’s no surprise that ignorance leads the way for prejudice. When I set out to write a fictional account of the life of Muhammad, I considered myself free from prejudice. I was raised in India playing with Muslim kids and maintain close ties with Muslim friends. Yet when I began to research the origins of Islam, I found that compared to what I had absorbed about the life of Jesus or Buddha, my knowledge of the Prophet’s life was almost a blank slate.

In the present climate of antagonism toward Muslims, a blank slate is good, since so many people started out their knowledge of Islam with two facts: Arabs control the world’s oil supply, and Muslim extremists attacked the U.S. on 9/11. This accounts for another finding by Gallup, that Americans see extremists as woven into the basic fabric of Islam, a view they don’t hold about Jewish or Christian fundamentalists. Would you say that Christians who kill anti-abortion doctors and burn down abortion clinics are basic to Christianity? Yet the protest of moderate Muslims that jihadis are an extremist minority tends to fall upon deaf ears.


“Vatican accuses BBC of “anti-Christian” bias” in advance of papal visit, by Heidi Blake in London’s Telegraph:

Cardinal Keith O’Brien said the BBC’s news coverage is contaminated by “a radically secular and socially liberal mindset”.
He said: “This week the BBC’s director general [Mark Thompson] admitted that the corporation had displayed ‘massive bias’ in its political coverage throughout the 1980s, acknowledging the existence of an institutional political bias.”

He is also angered by a 15 per cent slump in religious programming over the past 20 years and believes the broadcaster should appoint a religion editor to address the decline.

He also accused the corporation of plotting a “hatchet job” on the Vatican in a documentary about clerical sex abuse on the eve of Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to Britain.

Cardinal O’Brien believes that atheists like Professor Richard Dawkins are given a disproportionate amount of airtime while mainstream Christian views are marginalised.
The Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh said the corporation’s intolerance of religion is equivalent to its “massive” political bias against the Conservatives in the 1980s.


Jim Wallis’ “Open letter to Glenn Beck” via Sojourner magazine’s God’s Politics blog:

Dear Glenn,

I think we got off on the wrong foot. I listened to your speech last Saturday and heard a lot of things that we agree on. In fact, I have used some of the same language of our need to turn to God, and the values of “faith, hope, and charity” (love). What I would like to find out, and others would too, is what you mean by that language. Until last weekend, you have consistently described yourself primarily as an entertainer, and the public has known you as a talk show host. But last Saturday, you sounded more like an evangelist or revivalist on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. I know we disagree significantly on many issues of public policy, but you said that people can disagree on politics and still agree on basic values and try to come together. Maybe we should test that. Instead of my being up on your blackboard and a regular target of your show’s rhetoric, why don’t we finally have that civil dialogue I invited you to months ago? Your speech on the Mall suggested and even promised a change of heart on your part, so why don’t we talk? Here are a few things I think we could talk about.

First, I’ve been asked by people in the media if it matters that you are a Mormon. I unequivocally answer, no, it does not. We don’t want more anti-Mormon bigotry any more than we want the anti-Muslim bigotry now rising up across the country. By the way, you should speak to that (against it)….


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