There has been much media coverage of the recent controversy over building a mosque near Ground Zero. Those in opposition to this building are ignoring a very basic, very important fact. We live in America and Americans have rights.
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”
The First Amendment guarantees freedom of religion to all Americans. Not just Christian Americans, or Jewish Americans, or Buddhist Americans, but all Americans have the right to worship who, what, when, where, and how they please.
Those who oppose this building are mistaking all Muslims for the extremist terrorists who committed the 9/11 attacks. Making this generalization is like saying that no woman is as intelligent as a man is. It may be true in some cases, but in no way is it a rule. Generally, people agree that stereotyping is wrong, but it seems that many are willing to judge all Muslims by the crimes of a few.
Restricting religious freedom is a crime. The terrorist groups that committed the terrible acts of injustice do not believe in religious tolerance. If we begin limiting religion, we would not be any better than terrorists are.
Banning this building, as some wish, would set a dangerous precedent. Once one mosque is banned, maybe a second would be too. And maybe any mosque in New York City will be considered too close to ground zero, or the state of New York, or maybe even the entire United States. This is a slippery slope to start down – a risk that Americans cannot afford to take.
Besides all this talk of limiting rights, the building that has been dubbed “The Ground Zero Mosque” is not just a mosque. Only two stories of a 13-story building would be Muslim prayer space. The rest of the facility would include an auditorium, fitness center, swimming pool, basketball court, theater, performing arts center, bookstore, childcare services, and more. Even if it were just a mosque, I would support the building, but it is meant to be a community center for people of all faiths. I cannot see any detriment this facility would bring to the community. Community centers are usually welcomed and encouraged. I don’t think the Muslim affiliation should stop the New York community from embracing the facility.
For those who say that it’s just too close to ground zero, the facility is to be built over two blocks away and cannot be seen from ground zero.
Everyone values their own freedom, but it’s important to be reminded that others deserve freedom too.