THERE YOU GO AGAIN Mr. PRESIDENT!
Dr. René Menguy
Several months ago, I posted a piece that I concluded by wondering how in the world our country had chosen someone so incompetent to be our leader, an opinion largely supported by his subsequent actions. Having, inter alia, rammed a misbegotten health care system down our throats and attempted to destroy our financial markets, he has just used his bully pulpit to support the building of a mosque and an Islamic learning center close to the site of World Trade Center. “As a citizen and as President, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as everyone else in this country.”
Once again, he’s put a foot in his mouth. Why meddle in a local matter and one that that has already been adjudicated? (The same kind of blunder he made in the matter of the Boston policeman.). Moreover, given that New York already has a hundred mosques, where is the urgent need for another one and near hollow ground to boot? After becoming aware of the enormity of his gaffe, he backpedalled somewhat: “I was not commenting and will not comment on the wisdom of making the decision of putting a mosque there. I was commenting very specifically of the right people have that dates back to our founding.” This isn’t the statement and attitude that one expects from a graduate of Harvard Law. Has he actually read the Constitution or just heard about it?
Firstly, the original document only states that public office should not be denied to anyone on the basis of religion: “No religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States”. This one reference to religion did not satisfy the Framers of our Constitution. Therefore, on June 8, 1789, Representative James Madison introduced a series of articles of amendment. One concerned religious freedom. Various iterations were introduced in different States. The final version that became part of the Constitution is known as the FIRST AMENDEMENT:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.
Unfortunately, the framers, most of who belonged to various offshoots of Protestantism did not and probably could not precisely define just what religious freedom they undertook to guarantee, which is why so many lawsuits have reached the Supreme Court. For the sake of discussion let’s use Emil Durkheim's classical definition of religion as "a unified system of beliefs and practices relative to sacred things, that is to say, things set apart and forbidden--beliefs and practices which unite into one single moral community."
At present there are about twenty-two so-called classical religions in the world. Christianity is at the top with Islam, growing far more rapidly than Christianity, a close second. Parenthetically, “religious” groups or cults such as Rastafarians, Mandeans, Tenrikyo, and the Church of Scientology are too small or too unimportant to be considered major world religions.
Nothing in the First Amendment allows an established religious group, wanting to build a religious structure such as a convent or a mosque, to override local considerations, statutes, etc.. This, so long as the group has adequate facilities for the exercise of its beliefs. Since New York appears to have more than enough mosques for Muslims to “exercise” their religious beliefs, our President should have left the whole matter to further adjudication by the courts.
But Mr. President, what particularly enrages me about your GAFFE, is that you committed it only a few days after our country went into mourning over the murder, by Islamic Taliban Jihadists, of ten, mostly American, aid workers returning from the “exercise” of their medical expertise given freely and lovingly to destitute Afghanis. That is what we Christians do. The Taliban “explained” that they committed this atrocity because the Americans were preaching Christianity.
So, tell us Mr. President, what you think is the purpose of the Islamic Learning Center near the hollowed ground where so many Christians died at the hands of Islam?