Friday, September 10, 2010

The Truth about the Mosque at Ground Zero

This week has been interesting living on the African continent and hearing word of the uproar over the alleged mosque being built at ground zero and the church burning the Quran. Just this morning all Americans in Rwanda received an alert from the State Department advising us to be on alert if we were traveling due to anger building over the controversies in the US. We received this at the same time as prayers could be heard around the city for the ending of Ramadan, an official national holiday here even though a very small percentage of the population are Muslims. Thus I found my friend, Charles Strohmer's, opinion piece helpful as I tried to sift through my own feelings of all these things as a Christian, as an American, and as a foreigner. I am embarrassed by the church that is burning the Quran and I appreciate Charles' factual piece on what is going on at Ground Zero.
There is no mosque being built at ground zero in lower Manhattan. Nor are Imam Rauf and his Muslim colleagues planning to build a mosque at ground zero. Given all the media obfuscation, I thought I should make that fact immediately plain. And there are two or three other crucial facts you should know. But first, it’s location, location, location, the three most important words in real estate. And where is the real estate in question located? Any fourth grader with a street map of Lower Manhattan could point it out. Ground zero is located in the large area bordered by Vesey St. on the north, Church St. on the east, Liberty St. on the south, and West St. on the west.


Hollie said...

This is a great article Jennifer. It is all absolutely true and it is about time people stopped taking for truth what the media portrays. The majority of Muslims are very peaceful, God loving and fearing people who do not deserve the backlash they have been receiving because of a small number of extremists. It is like judging all Christians by the Crusades. And what many people don't realize is that Islam and Christianity have more similarities than differences.

My opinion? I think it would be a fantastic statement to have a mosque near ground zero. It shows that the principles that America was founded on will not be shaken by the vicious actions of a few people. Many of our ancestors came to North America for religious, political and personal freedom.

I think part of the problem is being uneducated about other religions and faiths. It is such a taboo subject in North America. I taught elementary school in the UK and every morning we had morning service. The Lord's Prayer was said and hymns were sung. We also had religious education- this covered all major world faiths. It was taught by themes for young children, for example food. So children learned about the Seder Plate, communion, fasting during Eid, etc. It wasn't making a judgement about what was right or wrong or telling children what to believe. It just said 'some people believe...'. And that goes a long way to encouraging tolerance and lessening suspicion.
A study came out in the UK that said the children with the best understanding and tolerance of other religions were at Catholic Schools. If anything, understanding other faiths strengthened their own beliefs.

It is funny what we consider is important to include in the North American curriculum. As if knowing the different rock types is more important that the faith that shapes our neighbor's being.

It is so important to seek the truth in today's world of sensationalized media. This article shows exactly why. Thanks for sharing:)

Hollie said...

Love this article Jennifer- it is absolutely true. Now more than ever we have to seek the truth as opposed to taking as gospel what our sensationalized media tells us.

If all these intolerant people took the time and educated themselves about Islam, they would actually discover that it has more similarities to Christianity than differences. We cannot judge Muslims by the actions of a violent few- that is like judging all Christians by the Crusades.

I taught elementary school in the UK for many years, and there is a much healthier, open attitude towards religion. It is part of the curriculum and all world faiths are covered. The Lord's Prayer is said at morning service every day. A study came out in the UK that found children at Catholic schools had the best understanding of world faiths and this actually strengthened their own faith. And religious schools are state schools in the UK- you do not have to pay to go to a Catholic, Church of England, Muslim or Jewish school.

I do not remember learning anything about other religions at school. I am so glad I did my teaching degree in the UK where I learned so much. It has certainly opened my eyes and allowed me to be less judgmental and tolerant of others' beliefs. I think religious education is essential in today's world.

Thanks for sharing this article:)

Gayle said...

My Uncle Carl Bonk (who is a Jesuit Priest) just sent me an e-mail talking about my great grand uncle, Clement Platek, who was killed in a coal miners strike in Pennsylvania. On a whim I googled Clement Platek and found your posting. How interesting. I guess we are distantly related.