Freedom for Some, But Not All?

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In the growing category of religious-right hypocrisy, read this recent statement from the Southern Baptist Convention’s Richard Land regarding the proposed Muslim community center near Ground Zero in New York:

“I take a back seat to no one when it comes to religious freedom and religious belief and the right to express that belief, even beliefs that I find abhorrent. But what I don’t do is I don’t say that religious freedom means that you have the right to build a place of worship anywhere that you want to build them.”

Land, head of the SBC’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, made that statement (reported Bob Allen of Associated Baptist Press) on his August 14 radio program. But in 1998 Land testified in favor of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), a 2000 law that put strong limits on government’s ability to restrict what religious congregations can do with their property. Congress passed the RLUIPA in response to a Texas-based U.S. Supreme Court case, City of Boerne v. Flores. In that 1997 decision the Supreme Court upheld the right of local officials in Boerne, west of San Antonio, to refuse to allow the expansion of a Catholic church in a neighborhood set aside for historical preservation.

Land was harshly critical of the court’s decision when he testified before Congress in support of the RLUIPA:

“I believe that the Boerne decision is one of the worst decisions rendered by the Supreme Court in its long history. . . . You cannot treat a church or a mosque or a synagogue the same way you treat a bowling alley or a used-car dealership. This Supreme Court said, ‘Yes you can.’ That is outrageous and dangerous.”

Now, apparently, Land believes government should treat a religious institution essentially like any other entity. Moreover, he thinks government should discriminate against all Muslims simply because of the actions of a small minority of extremists. Here’s Land, again from the Associated Baptist Press article:

“I am well aware of the fact that the vast majority of Muslims do not support the suicide attackers, the terrorists, who attacked the buildings at 9/11. But it is a fact … that every single one of the people who participated in that terrorist attack were doing so in the name of their understanding of Islam.”

We have to believe that Land would stand with the Texas Freedom Network in opposing a government decision barring a Christian church from building near a health clinic simply because many of the bombings of abortion clinics and the murder of abortion providers have come at the hands of extremists who committed their crimes in the name of their understanding of Christianity. Such anti-Christian discrimination would be — and should be — repugnant, especially to anyone who supports the principle of religious freedom. Land, however, seems to think that religious freedom is good for some people of faith, but not for all — at least, not for those whose religious beliefs he doesn’t like.

9 Responses to “Freedom for Some, But Not All?”

  1. Beverly Kurtin Says:

    I’m OUTRAGED by the GOP’s taking what our president said, turning it 180 degrees from what he actually said, and are now planning to use something he DID NOT SAY into a wedge issue.

    It’s disgusting the way many Americans are behaving toward a community center simply because it is being built by Muslims.

    I’m becoming a bit alarmed that so many Americans are turning into an ugly mob because of their own stupidity. They insist on calling it the Ground Zero Mosque when it is nowhere near the place where a terrible event happened. The fact that it was done by radical morons means nothing. Hundreds of innocent Muslims were killed in the destruction of the towers as were Christians, Jews, Hindus, etc.

    Israel is blamed routinely for things they did not do. Now Americans are blaming the 1.8 Billion Muslims around the world for something ten disgusting criminals did. There have been Muslims in the United States since almost the founding of the country. Muslim countries have been our allies. We have gone to war to protect Muslims. Now we want them to build the community center–NOT a Mosque–somewhere else? They bought the building at a bargain price, it would be a financial burden on them to go somewhere else. But that is not the point; the point is they have a right to build where they want to. The building will not be visible from Ground Zero and even some members of the families of people who were killed there have no problem with what the Muslim community wants to do.

    I’m ashamed to be an American at this point in time. No, not ashamed, embarrassed. President Obama swore to defend the Constitution; freedom of religion is one of the most important parts of that Constitution. I am Jewish, you would think that I’d be against the Muslims, but if I did, I’d be a hypocrite of the first degree. I do not want people telling Jews where they can and cannot build a Synagogue, so why should I support the mindless knee jerk reaction to the location of the community center?

    The center will have a basketball court as do many churches and some synagogues, they will have a gourmet cooking school, and other amenities that they wish to have. I’m seething just thinking about the hatred that some Americans are spewing. Americans are so ignorant that they think there is something perfidious in the name Allah. It is simply Arabic for God. If someone said to me Allah Akbar I would have to say “Amen” because God is great, that is all it means.

    This is a sad time for America and Americans. New York has long had a number of Muslims and Mosques. There are Mosques all over America just as there are Churches and Synagogues and other religion’s places of worship. Our founders were wise indeed, they knew what it was to have government and church forcing non-Episcopalians to give money to their church because the government forced them to do so.

    Newt Gingrich said that when Saudi Arabia has Churches and Synagogues, then they can erect their Mosque. Well, folks, THAT IS WHAT MAKES US DIFFERENT AND BETTER: FREEDOM OF RELIGION. I once turned down a very lucrative contract because I would be confined to an American base for two years because of my religion and I refused to wear a burka. I don’t care what the Saudis do or don’t do; they are not the United States of America.

    What if it was going to be in my back yard I’d welcome them with open arms regardless of what other countries do or say. I’m an AMERICAN and I hope to be able to act as one. I’m very proud to be an American, it is a privilege to be an American. Even though my gender kept me out of the draft, I joined the Air National Guard for six years out of a sense of gratitude for being born in America. Forty-seven of my relatives were enslaved and murdered by the Nazis WHILE I WAS ALIVE! True, I was very young then, but had not my grandparents had the fire in their guts to get out of Europe, I’d never have been born or if I had been born, I probably would have had my head smashed open like a ripe watermelon.

    I went to Hebrew school after regular school and had to bring my Hebrew texts with me only to have them torn up and flushed down the toilets. I had to leave the books at Hebrew school. I was beaten up for killing the little baby Jesus!!! Does that mean I don’t love my many Christian friends? Of course not; then was then, now is now except on the Glenn Beck show. You don’t have to forget to forgive.

    Freedom of religion is what separates us from most of the rest of the world. Be proud to be an American and be proud that only in America could people have the right to express their feelings whether or not you support them.

  2. Charles Says:

    I think the real question is what Richard Land would do if he had the dictatorial power that someone like Stalin had. My last dime bets that he would close my church—board her up with old garage planks and rusty nails.

    Best I can tell, neither he nor his ilk have any respect for Roger Williams or the long-time (before there ever even was a thing called a “liberal”) Baptist tradition of support for separation of church and state. The Baptists of 1847, if they were alive today, would be owning and running Americans United for Separation of Church and State. That is a well known fact among histories who really know American history. The pitiable thing about it is that nearly every lay Southern Baptist in the United States is totally ignorant of that fact and how the Southern Baptist Convention has intentionally withheld that knowledge from the people in the pews so they can continue to practice their work of evil and deception on their own people.

  3. Charles Says:

    I know Gene… religion and state.

  4. David Says:

    If the mosque builders decide to go ahead, this will be THE line in the sand with every educated person who knows the constitution and American history, and everyone who’s opposed to an evangelical theocracy on one side, and those who support an evangelical theocracy, and all the ignorant bigots and Muslim haters, etc. on the other.
    It will be interesting if the Dems can figure out a way to postpone resolution of this and get the economy back on the news cycle.

  5. Cytocop CT(ASCP) Says:

    Americans should think long and hard that the WORLD IS WATCHING US DEBATE THIS, and the world will take note of how this ends. Mark my words.

    If the community center is NOT permitted to be built, the 9/11 terrorists will have won. In addition, those radical Muslims who are saying that America is at war with Islam will also have won their argument.

    Note that they are also tallying up how little aid has come to suffering Pakistan so far. They will put 2 and 2 together.

    It’s not just this mosque or community center that is being debated. There are others in other states that are also now under protest and resistance.

    How ironic that the imam of this community center is in Indonesia RIGHT NOW talking about what life is like for Muslims in America. What do you think he is saying, and do you think he may have to modify his original remarks? I think so. He would have to because Indonesians are watching this on their TV’s RIGHT NOW.

    I’ve become more and more apprehensive about what my country is turning into. The more I think about it, the more I see America rapidly turning into pre-Nazi Germany. We have an economy in the toilet and xenophobia of the ugliest sort ballooning everywhere. The Joseph Goebbels of modern America are winning more hearts and minds than anyone else what with their lies about Obama’s birthplace and religion. Why do I call them Joseph Goebbels? Because it was Joseph Goebbels who taught the Nazis that if you repeat a lie often enough to enough people, people will begin to believe it. And make it a BIG LIE. Hence: every day more Americans believe Obama is a Muslim and that he was born in Kenya. Despite the mountain of evidence against that, the lie is has been most successful.

    This, in addition to the Theory of Relativity being a liberal plot. If they can think THAT up, is there any LIMIT to what they can think up, knowing the uneducated majority will swallow it lock, stock, and barrel?

    Think about it.

  6. Beverly Kurtin Says:

    Once again: IT IS NOT A MOSQUE. IT IS NOT BEING BUILT AT “GROUND ZERO.”

    Again? OK: IT IS NOT A MOSQUE. IT IS NOT BEING BUILT AT “GROUND ZERO.

    Are we going to live by our Constitution or are we going to turn into a mindless mob? That’s called anarchy.

    President Obma is a Christian born in the USA. I’ve had some morons tell me that he was born in Hawaii and Hawaii is a foreign country. I’ve had some friends who were dyed in the wool “birthers.” They do not consider the president’s birth certificate to be real. After all, it isn’t hard to purchase official documents. (Really? I had to have my law firm get a copy of my birth certificate because of a technicality…yeah, real easy.)

    The people who think they’re God’s Own People decided from the git go NOT to let the president win anything. Rather than being honest opponents, they came up with lies that ignorant boobs believe. And whatever you do, don’t try to change their minds, it is impossible for them to be intelligent enough to move once their mind is made up.

    Now that the issue has become a world-wide situation, the community center MUST be built or the world will know what kind of liars we are. We are no different than the pre-war Germans. Zeig Heil!

  7. David Says:

    Orly Taitz is doubling down on her quest to unseat Pres. Obama, but I think the SCOTUS is about ready to drop the hammer on her finally once and for all.
    That will probably shut the birthers up, except for the fringe of the fringe.
    The mosque issue is a distraction.
    Now the poll on whether Obama is a Muslim is being milked.
    Here’s the strategy:
    Beginning with HCR, the GOP was able to delay progress, and were able to shape the debate and the final product without actually having to take responsibility. Ditto, financial reform.
    The one thing that would have had an impact on the jobs situation was an energy bill. They were able to stall that completely.
    Now, they need to distract from the fact that the GOP created the Great Recession, and have been doing everything in their power to stall a recovery. So they throw up all these distractions. They want the Dems to be perpetually on defense until the election.
    There’s no reason to make a decision about the mosque before the election. It would be in the national interest if the mosque proponents simply took a vacation until after the election, and just let this die out of the media cycle. Even the Roberts court would uphold their right to build the mosque.
    Right now, the current uptick in the jobless rate is said to be due to returning Iraqi veterans. The Dems would be smart to push for jobs for the returning veterans (as well as the rest of the unemployed in the country), and get the debate back on the economy and the jobs issue, and keep it there.

  8. Beverly Kurtin Says:

    Is Orly Taitz an American citizen?

    I know she came her from Russia, but did she ever get her citizenship papers?

    The president has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that he was born in Hawaii; Hawaii is a state, ergo President Obama was born in the United States. So why is she pushing this so hard? SCOTUS has already slapped her down and fined her $50,000. She claims she has supporters who will pay that fine.

    On another subject, Laura what’s her name claims she’s leaving radio to get her first amendment rights back. The first amendment applies only to the government abridging her rights. But her rights were not violated! An individual objected to the language she used and then got pretty snotty about the lady being in a bi-racial marriage. That was none of Laura’s business.

    I’ve not listened to her in years; I can’t abide fools pretending to be wise.

  9. Cytocop CT(ASCP) Says:

    The GOP has no plan, no idea what to do about the economy or anything else. They have nothing at all to offer except continued tax cuts for the wealthiest 2%. That and endless war. Since these won’t play well in Peoria (or anywhere else in America), this is why they are forced to resort to fear-mongering. It’s their only way to distract the very easily distracted and gullible American public.

    And so many Americans – being fear-based and gullible as we are – are falling for it.

    As a P.S., Dr. Laura Schlessinger’s First Amendment rights were not abridged nor impeded in any way. She’s just being a typical whiney “poor, persecuted me” conservative.

    By the way, Dr. Laura is NOT a medical doctor nor a psychologist. Her PhD is in physiology, a profession which has nothing at all to do with interpersonal relationships. On a personal note, Schlessinger had at least two extramarital affairs before she and her husband were divorced yet she arrogantly sets herself up as some sort of expert. (And again, the naive public falls for it).

    This is SOOOOOOOOOOOOO typical of the deceit that comes from conservatives.

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