September 9, 2010

What’s at stake near Ground Zero?

Posted: 12:06 PM ET

By Father Edward Beck

Last night I was sitting in the green room at CNN headquarters in New York waiting to go on Larry King Live to join the discussion with Imam Rauf about the proposed Islamic Cultural Center to be built two blocks from Ground Zero.  The more the man spoke, the more apparent it became that I and the other guests would not be needed after all.  The Imam had a lot to say.  And I was content to sit and listen.  

His frustration about the controversy surrounding the Cordoba House (Park 51) project is understandable.  As he noted, when he first announced the project in December there was no outcry, not a blip on anyone's radar.  Then, when some politicians decided to use the issue for their own selfish ends, all hell broke loose. 

Let's be clear: The controversy surrounding Cordoba House is laden with discrimination, xenophobia and irrationalism.  To say that the fundamentalist murderers who flew planes into the Word Trade Center represent Muslims is like saying Hitler's Christianity is representative of all Christianity.  Or it's like saying when a radical fundamentalist Christian kills an abortion doctor out of misguided religious fervor, that he or she represents all Christians.  Should Christians be denied the opportunity to build a church two blocks from an abortion clinic because of the actions of one of its errant followers?  

What's at stake here is religious freedom and tolerance, a bedrock of our United States democracy.   The motto on our national seal says: "E Pluribus Unum"- Out of Many, One.  We need to uphold and live by that motto.  We are a culturally and religiously diverse society that claims the rights of our citizens are protected.  We cannot waver in that protection because radicals on both sides are intent on having a shouting match based more in emotion than facts.

The misrepresentation of Cordoba House as some radical mosque has been but one distortion of the facts.  As duly noted by the Imam during his interview with Soledad O'Brien, the Cultural Center will be more like a YMCA than a traditional mosque.  It will have a swimming pool, classrooms, and separate prayer spaces for Christians, Jews, and, yes, Muslims.  And what's wrong with that?  Nothing.

We are at the confluence of some significant religious and secular events: The Jews celebrate Rosh Hashanah.  Muslims end their observance of Ramadan and break the fast with celebration.  And we will commemorate the 9th Anniversary of the attacks of 9/11.  What better time to celebrate the unity of the 3 great Abrahamic traditions of Judaism, Islam and Christianity?  Love of God and neighbor is the hallmark of all three.  Cordoba House is a wonderful place to start putting that Golden Rule into effect.  Let's be who we say we are and who we know deep down we are.  And not the narrow-minded, hateful, xenophobic monsters that those who hate us want others to believe we are.     

Father Edward L. Beck, C.P. is a Roman Catholic priest of the Passionist Community.  He is the author of SOUL PROVIDER: Spiritual Steps to Limitless Love.

Filed under: Larry King Live • LKL Web Exclusive

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debbie   September 9th, 2010 12:15 pm ET

Hitler did not kill 6,000,000 Jews in the name of Jesus Christ, but the terrorists claimed their sinister deeds in the name of Allah. It is a ridiculous comparison and makes no sense. Hitler had very little to do with Christianity but terrorists have EVERYTHING to do with Islam.

Monica Dass   September 9th, 2010 12:20 pm ET

I think we all understand what America is founded on and our own country's belief...justice for all..freedom of religion...But why test those boundries? That is the question. Why this spot..Is this a way for us Americans to have to prove our beliefs and what we stand by. Why not put the Cordoba House in a different location and unite as one somewhere else if that is the next step in healing our country.. Lets be real with that. This is about what is responsible and sensitive to those families involved.

Gould Sara Marsha   September 9th, 2010 1:01 pm ET

I am an American and a Jew living in Mexico. CNN is my mirror of world events.

I watched the interview with Soladad O'Brien and Imam Rauf and I was impressed by him and distressed by her. She was not objective and clearly kept trying to change his mind rather than generate his ideas. Better to have used Fareed Zakaria who support the center but could have played devil's advocate.

I also was unhappy about Anderson Coopers follow up panel. The two anti- Islam persons were uninformed and so biased that the mis-heard the Imam's words. The professionals were respectful, but I had to turn it off, I was so distressed. I think Anderson Cooper likes to choose participants who are less educated and more strident. It does not do the issues a service.

The media is at fault for the uproar about the mosque and the Karan burning. If they didn't cover it so aggressively, we (the US) wouldn't look so bad to the world.

I, for one, am glad that I don't live there any more!!!!!

ckelly   September 9th, 2010 1:10 pm ET

Father Beck:

Your response is a good one and a noble one. However, the reality of human emotion and suffering is more than understandable during these times.

Originally, this project was introduced as a mosque and of course there is nothing wrong with a mosque. However, the wounds of the city seem to still be open-there is still war and soldiers at war and innocent civilians dying. The building of the mosque or centre will change none of that. Where are the voices of the moderate Muslim community? If we make it about race, hype, xenophobia then that is what it will be about . This will be erroneously mirrored back through the media.The truth is: New Yorkers are hurt, angry,afraid and insulted. Feelings beliefs get magnified and distorted when we judge and accuse too quickly. New hurts begin.

This is really about poor timing in my opinion. The war should be over,and significant time to allow the memory of what happened in New York to pass. The Imam is not doing the right thing in my opinion because he is truly failing to have serious regard for his community's needs. 71% are telling him their needs and its being ignored.

This is not about his right to build a building or his right to practice his religion. He has those rights!!

This is about lives lost and living after the terrorist attack and the symbolism of disregard for the average New Yorker who feels anxious and without control, still 9 years after 911. This is about a need for safety and a need for the war to be over. Why build the Mosque NOW? really?

Rose   September 9th, 2010 1:29 pm ET

Thank you Father Edward Beck. A voice of reason, logic and fairness in the midst of this hatefilled mess.

When we ask innocent Muslim Americans who were not responsible for the tragic 9/11 attacks to move their project site "a few blocks elsewhere" due to sensitivities, it's similar to when we asked African Americans in the past to "just sit in another part of a restaurant or bus" or not to walk through a hotel lobby due to "sensitivities" in some parts of the US. This attitude against people whom we enslaved and abused for centuries.

Discrimination based on belonging to a specific racial or ethnic group. It is argued that certainly people have rights but we just don't want "them" building in "our" ground zero neighbourhood. This attitude against Muslims whom we have killed by the hundreds of thousands with our wars.

Although a mosque has existed for years only 2 blocks further north of this site, NO one said anything until certain Conservatives decided to frame this project and escalate this issue in May, for mid-term election points. They have soap-boxed this to become heroes with the electorate. Democracy suffers when such manipulations become the order of the day.

Ted   September 9th, 2010 1:35 pm ET

I have lost all respect for politicians a long time ago, they are nothing, but voltures who use any dirty tricks to reach their goals or to stay in power.
I hope the voters are smarter that that and throw out all those who try to get elected or re-elected by sowing distrust between americans.

Carol Elkind   September 9th, 2010 1:42 pm ET

Dear Ms. Obrien:

I understand from last evening's broadcast that you plan a full documentary on today's life in American for American Muslims. I am Jewish and was interviewed in PBS's documentary aired 6/23/09 entitled, "New Muslim Cool". This story is about a Hispanic man, Hamza Perez, his life as a convert to Islam and his moving to Pittsburgh, PA to assist in setting up a Muslim School, a Masjid (Mosque) and a community center all on the North Side of Pittsburgh. I feel it would benefit you and your audience if you would view this film because it is about a young Muslim community that is growing; people living their lives, working at their jobs and having families. I have attended numerous community dinners that are held at the Majid every other Saturday evening. Please do yourself a favor and look up www. and see the review that the New York Times gave this film. This film has bee shown all over the world. It won the peace prize from Al Jazeera. Hamza's life has changed since this film. He was involved with writing and performing hiphop music, but is no longer doing that. He works at the YMCA and speaks in the Alleghency County Jail's Hope Pod which is the faith based pod. I know because my Son, Zack, was on that Pod and Hamza has had a profound affect on him. My Son is still Jewish, but was raised in a Reform Jewish home and his beliefs, like mine, are about Tikun Olam, healing the world we live in. It might be interesting if you would interview Hamza Perez a year and a half after the film's premiere and see what changes have taken place. This Masjid, Light of the Age, was raided four years ago on the 4th of July by the FBI and that piece is also covered in this film. When I travel with my Muslim Friends by air, they are always inspected more than the average traveller. I also think you should look into who is doing the funding of this Muslim Mosque and Community Center as I've read that it is being funded by many US Corporations which is why there is so much backlash about it. I do hope you see New Muslim Cool and perhaps then you might want to know about a charitable foundation called, "Crossing Limits, Inc.". Presently Crossing Limits is putting a poetry anthology together entitled, "Crossing Limits: Poetry from American Muslims and American Jews". Good luck on your endeavor to create a great documentary, one that supports religious freedom for all.

Very truly yours,
Carol Elkind, Pittsburgh, PA

Mike   September 9th, 2010 1:59 pm ET

To All Muslims across the World,

I am what one might call a middle class American. I am a Christian who attends service with my family. I work hard to support my family in an attempt to give them a decent life. We are not wealthy people but we understand and appreciate that we have more than most people living in the world today. We have a roof over our heads, food to eat and clean water to drink. We are safe in our community and healthcare, education and other public services we have come to know are readily available to us. We volunteer in our community and give to charities when we can afford to. If one can still say there is an “American Dream” I guess we would have something resembling that although I feel the phrase does not hold the same connotations it once did.

I am extremely proud of my country and especially proud of our founding and the principles that were laid out for us. We have not always been perfect but we are continually trying to improve and when mistakes are identified the majority of our population acts to change them. This can be seen again and again throughout our history and I consider that a good thing. No one person or country can be perfect but you can try to improve and we have shown this is the path we choose to take as a society.

If today I decide the religious path I have taken over the course of 30 years no longer suits me and I no longer subscribe to the beliefs of my church I can simply walk away. In America I can choose to have no religion or any religion I choose based on my PERSONAL beliefs. I will suffer no ill will from my community, my state or my country. I can even write to all the newspapers in America exclaiming why I have left my religion and why I feel the beliefs held by the faith are not important or true. I will not be arrested, I will not be killed and I will not be investigated. What I will receive are comments and opinions from those who agree and disagree with me. Each side will express their views in a passionate debate and we will then move on. I will continue to enjoy my life and religious freedoms and those who disagree will do the same. I thank my founding fathers, the men and woman who have fought to protect this and my country as a whole for this freedom. We should all be proud that we live in such a place where ALL are free to live our lives in the manner we see fit. We do live by laws as all societies must but they are neither oppressive nor do they infringe on our rights as granted to us by our creator.

Benjamin Franklin once wrote to the president of Yale College, “I believe in a god who is a creator, I believe in doing good to my fellow man.” As an American middle class man I subscribe to this line of thinking and I hope the rest of the world understands this is the view of most Americans. We believe in doing good to our fellow man. Yes, you can point out mistakes we have made as a country and a people but we have tried each time to correct and I suspect we will do so into the future. I must say we have also acted many times to improve the lives of people across the world.

In comments made by former Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Karen P. Hughes pointed out the following:

•15 countries in Africa will receive an infusion of expertise and $1.5 billion to prevent malaria from the US

•business mentoring for women in developing countries
•training for nearly a million teachers in 20 countries
•scholarships for half a million girls in Africa
•the first breast cancer prevention and early detection campaign in the Middle East
•Navy hospital ship USS Mercy revisited areas of Southeast Asia ravaged by the tsunami to render aid
•When earthquakes devastated Pakistan, American military helicopters rushed emergency relief to thousands of people
•America is by far the largest donor of food to the people of Darfur, where we have supplied more than half the emergency food aid from the entire world. Since the start of the conflict in 2003, America has spent nearly $1 billion feeding the hungry there
•The U.S. is still the largest bilateral donor of food and medicine to the Palestinian people
•The U.S. leads the world in the fight against AIDS, providing more than half of all bilateral Global HIV/AIDS funding
•The U.S. is the largest donor to the United Nations' World Food Program. Since 2003, the U.S. has provided $1.27 billion in food aid, leading the fight against the No. 1 risk in global health - hunger.

This is a fairly recent and short list that could go on and on and does not include initiatives by the current administration. Americans have helped more people across the globe than any other country in the world. This list also does not include the removal of oppressive dictators throughout history that America has stood against. Recently America stood against Sadam Hussan who in 1978 issued a memorandum stating anyone who did not agree with the ideas of his party would be executed. This threat was carried out and many of his targets were ethnic Kurds and Shiite Muslims. I recall watching a video of party members being called out by Sadam at a gathering where they were then taking outside and executed. In 1982 he ordered the killing of some 148 people in Dujail, including dozens of women and children. This was a dictator who killed those who did not share his religious views, allowed the mass killing of protesters, killed the children of those who opposed him and ruled his oppressed society with an iron fist. He is gone today and although the aftermath of his removal is heartbreaking I believe history will show the people of Iraq will be better off for the blood and treasure America sacrificed for their freedom. I feel these reminders are important especially now. Again, I do not seek to glorify all my country has done and acknowledge our faults but our achievements and good will must be known.

I think I speak for the majority of my countrymen when I say we welcome all people and faiths to America. We look to share the gifts that our founding fathers bestowed upon us with those who come in peace and through legal means to create a better life for themselves and their families. All Americans share this goal and this was the reasons many generations before us came to this great land.

I would like to say to my Muslim brothers and sisters in America and across the globe that everyday people like me hold no ill will toward you. The majority of us understand that there are radical elements in all religions including our major religions practiced in America. We understand some can take your faith and use it to drive a wedge between our nations. We also clearly understand some here in America can do the same thing and use their religion or events to drive a wedge and inflame tensions between us with the proposed burning of your holy book or in their opposition to the building of your places of worship. Please know these voices do not speak for all or the majority of Americans and know that you are welcome in our country and in our communities.

With Peaceful Regards,


Mark Thompson   September 9th, 2010 2:04 pm ET

Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf can bring it on! His comments are laughable. That somehow we HAVE to allow the mosque to be built or we will be enraging and CREATING terrorists. The USA will not be moved by FEAR. Hey Imam, terrorists are taught to HATE in mosques and in the Islamic radical schools at a very young age, they want to cut off the infadels heads whether there is a mosque near ground zero or not. I say, no mosques built ANYWHERE in America until the war in Afghanistan is over and the terrorists have surrendered their killing, invading, recruiting and hating ways. When Jihadists learn to get along with people, then we can allow mosques to be built.. When the Jihadists surrender, then, we can allow mosques to be built on American soil. If there was a sect of Evangelical Christians who were invading villages and killing older men and women and taking boys hosatge like in Sudan or if there were Christians creating suicide bombers for irradicating jewish people, it would not be unreasonable to demand that the evangelical Christians who were causing the problems cease and desist and no churches built anywhere until the problem is solved. Well, the same holds true for these Jihadists, no mosques ANYWHERE in America until Jihadists surrender. The oldest trick in the book and a neighborhood bully's best tactic is to use "fear" to get their way. Nice try Imam, not working here. That is hugely immature.

IKHAN   September 9th, 2010 2:13 pm ET

what is at stake is the very spirit of America and the multi hued fabric of our society as we know it.
Forces of hate, intolerance, racism are emerging to drag us back to dark days of religious persecution. Propaganda machines from religious zealots and extremists are working over time to distort American view of other faiths.
Unfortunately politicians have seized this malodorous moment to munch poltical hay.
Reverand, this is the time that true Christians of all denominations should step forward to stand up to these forces and make sure that we keep the torch of Liberty alight. That would also be the Christian thing to do.

Mimi   September 9th, 2010 2:56 pm ET

I believe in religious freedom, yes, but you know there was this story about a "trojan horse". Would we let the Japanese build a memorial at Pearl Harbor? M, St. Louis

Kathleen   September 9th, 2010 3:19 pm ET

Too bad the good father Beck is so transformed by the con job the iman is giving. Talk about politically correct. I am puzzled to know if the tv priest got as upset about the child molestations so rampant in his ever forgiving church! Just thinking!

to Kid Beck   September 9th, 2010 3:22 pm ET

Another dimwit fallen for Islamic Taquia.

Kid, learn the true face of islam here.


John H   September 9th, 2010 4:56 pm ET

As one born into the Roman Catholic Church, I have all the respect in the world for Father Beck's point of view but in my opinion, both Imam Rauf and Father Beck are skirting the real issue here. No reasonable or rational person will challenge our historic openess to persons of other religions or persons of no religion at all. We are not debating Imam Rauf's Constitutional Right to build his Mosque where he now plans nor are we challenging his Freedom of Speech or Religion. What is at issue here are the strong emotions surrounding this location and the insensitivity of proceeding despite the discomfort he is causing to such a large number of American Citizens. If, as the Imam claims, his goal is to build bridges and to encouage understanding between people of different faiths then he is going about it in exactly the wrong way.

emil nash   September 9th, 2010 5:15 pm ET

Hello Larry,
RE: Koran burning by a minister of faith? on Sept 11, 2010.

To any reasonable and intelligent person, this is an act of terrorism and the minister has to be treated as a terrorist. How can any authority allow this terrorist to terrorize a nation and its people around the world.

What then would be considered a terrorist attack? Just a suicide bomber who explodes himself to blow up a group or a building?

This person/ or group is creating a situation which is beyond anyone's control and there is no doubt in mind that he is doing this for publicity, out of complete ignorance, stupidity and nonsensical act.

The media has the most influence and has the greatest responsibility in this situation. You must announce this act as a terror against humanity not as something that is glamorized, showing his gun, the church, and oh "Yes, I am going to burn the Koran".

This is a terrorist who is causing casulties and tradgedies beyond anyone's imagination. My greatest anguish is that he is still walking freely glamorized by the media with his weapons; the Koran and the Church.

Laurie Byro   September 9th, 2010 5:22 pm ET

I was appalled by the grilling that O'Brien? gave Rauf last night on Larry King, so much so that they have lost two viewers. One of the points that the US fails to recognise is that through bad political moves such as the Iraq invasion, our country has been taken over by incredibly stupid politicians determined to make matters worse over and over again. I would embrace moderate Muslim neighbors over right wing radical Christians ANY DAY and while I was brought up Lutheran would consider becoming Jewish to avoid the stigma of the word "christianity" and all it implies. I wanted to hear both sides and so i watched Larry King and what was Ms. O'Brien not getting? Just as the psycho in Gainesville should not be allowed LEGALLY to put people's lives at risk, hammering at a guest like that (who had answered the question a dozen different ways) just made her look like feminist wannabe with a high testosterone level. 70% of the public disagrees, but the public AS WE KNOW is often, ill informed and dangerously feral in voicing their opinions. The woman with the brother has my sympathies, but she also came off (I would rather not say because I have been told to turn the other cheek) but if that was two people showing "the other side" it made one wonder was this because they could speak loudly and not hear what was being said to THEM. Very sad broadcast, very disappointed in the questioning. I agree with Father Beck, but I further say I am ashamed at this program. I also believe that we AS AMERICANS have a culpability to who we elect and the atrocities that the US inflict on other nations by claiming we are the "watchdogs." Peace

My husban said that O"brien represents HERSELF and her opinion and HER PAYCHECK. Very turned off by her manner.

mirna H   September 9th, 2010 5:26 pm ET

This is "sane" descent and perfect to all viewers from all over the world .
That simple sentence with that simple relief i thank you . People like you are rare .

Smith in Oregon   September 9th, 2010 5:44 pm ET

While a single bombing of an abortion clinic might not accurately reflect upon all of Christianity and Christians in general, centuries of physical and cultural genocide by Christianity and Christians do I feel reflect upon all of Christianity, including the two Christian priests charged and found guilty of the genocide of nearly 1 MILLION indigenous people in 1990's Rwanda.

Christians and Christianity as a whole represent the largest organization of book banners and book burners in the collected history of humanity on earth PERIOD. The vast amount of book's, cultural collections and library's burned by Christian's under orders by Christian leaders makes the Nazi book burnings appear like mere pranksters.

Although Islam and Muslim followers have destroyed a number of religious temples, shrines, religious icons, Christianity by and large holds the records on the number of mass destruction of other religions temples, shrines, books, icon's, people and religiously linked instruments.

Rwanda's Christian linked genocide of the indigenous natives they perceived as 'pagans' occurred in the 1990's, Islam's destruction of two huge ancient Buddha's in Afghanistan occurred in the 1990's. Such heavy handed religious intolerance by Christianity and Islam exist around the world TODAY.

Father Edward Beck in this 'What's at stake' blog article states, ' What better time to celebrate the unity of the 3 great Abrahamic traditions of Judaism, Islam and Christianity? Love of God and neighbor is the hallmark of all three'.

I fail to see the positive aspect in which father beck refers to as the 3 'great' Abrahamic (religious) traditions. The bloodshed, mass destruction, wars, slavery, kidnappings, entire enormous cities rapped, looted, sacked and burned to the ground, entire cultures utterly destroyed, entire collected recordings of humanity on earth (Library of Alexandrina) burned to the ground, is not what I call 'great' in any positive sense of achievement.

I also fail to see how the supposed 'great' Abraham traditions hallmark is Love of God and neighbor is actively practiced by ANY of them. Senior Judaic Rabbi's recently called for a Plague and total Genocide of the Palestinian people, certainly No Love There. Senior Islamic Ayatollahs issuing death fatwa's for what is at best seen as a very marginal offense if any against 'a neighbor'. Christian leaders threatening abortion doctors and pregnant women choosing to undergo abortion fails to show any love there to a 'neighbor'. Christian organizations firing all employees that are not defined by those organizations to be 'Christians' appears to entirely lack any love to a 'neighbor'.

Nana Brown   September 9th, 2010 5:59 pm ET

From ever evil that is done come out people like Father Edward Beck, Imam Rauf , Mayor Bloomburg then there are laughably characters we are seeing like politicians like Rick Lazio, a Republican candidate for New York governor, question whether Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the principal figure behind the project, might have links to “radical organizations". Obviously Lazio like Pailen and others alike are the no different to the Talaban we are fighting. If someone is a Boston Roman Catholic doesn’t mean he’s in league with Irish Republican Army bomb makers, just as not all Orthodox Christians have ties to Serbian war criminals or Southern Baptists to the murderers of abortion doctors. George Bush administration had it not had tunnel vision or been more aware of the irreconcilable differences between the Salafist jihadists of Al Qaeda and the secular Baathists of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, then United States might never have blundered into a disastrous war killing thousands of our own men and women in uniform not to forget millions innocent lives murdered in Iraq and Afghanistan [ i hope and pray not Iran] Sufism is an entirely indigenous, deeply rooted resistance movement against violent Islamic radicalism. But the least we can do is to encourage the Sufis in our own societies. Men like Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf should be embraced as vital allies, and we should have only contempt for those who ignorant political leaders who miss calculate them with the extremists.

Nana Brown   September 9th, 2010 6:04 pm ET

Your comment is awaiting moderation.

From ever evil that is done come out people like Father Edward Beck, Imam Rauf , Mayor Bloomburg then there are laughably characters we are seeing like politicians like Rick Lazio, a Republican candidate for New York governor, question whether Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the principal figure behind the project, might have links to “radical organizations". Obviously Lazio like Pailen and others alike not much different to the Talaban we are fighting are they? If someone is a Boston Roman Catholic doesn’t mean he’s in league with Irish Republican Army bomb makers, just as not all Orthodox Christians have ties to Serbian war criminals or Southern Baptists to the murderers of abortion doctors. George Bush administration had it not had tunnel vision or been more aware of the irreconcilable differences between the Salafist jihadists of Al Qaeda and the secular Baathists of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, then United States might never have blundered into a disastrous war, killing thousands of our own men and women in uniform not to forget millions innocent lives murdered in Iraq and Afghanistan [ i hope and pray not Iran] Sufism is an entirely indigenous, deeply rooted resistance movement against violent Islamic radicalism. But the least we can do is to encourage the Sufis in our own societies and still remain a Christian, Jewish or other. Men like Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf should be embraced as vital allies, and we should have only contempt for those who ignorant political leaders who miss calculate them with the extremists. Sadly extremist have won again and the Strip clubs will remain at ground zero !!!

David Diederich   September 9th, 2010 6:23 pm ET

Have we forgotten what we did to the Japanese @ manzanar ,because we thought the American Japanese werent loyal Americans. Now we think that we have the right to say the Islamic People are not Americans and they cant have the same rights as all Americans When do we stop being afraid of people because there different There will always be evil people who do bad things. lets start acting like AMERICANS .

MARGARET BAILEY   September 9th, 2010 6:30 pm ET

I think CNN is beating the controversity re Pastor Joes to death and has creted a media darling. I also think Soledad O'Brien was very disrespectful to the Iman on last night's program. The muslims have shown more tolerance and understanding than many so called christians in this matter. The media should leave this alone and only report facts and not everone and his brother's opinion on this matter. Cease and desist
I am not a muslin but hope I respect everone's religion.

Shazreen Aslam   September 9th, 2010 6:53 pm ET

I am deeply grateful for Christian people like Father Edward Beck who is open minded to understand the differences between the two conflicting religions, Chrisitanity and Islam. It is greatly appreciated also that Christians are educated about the the Muslims' purpose of putting a mosque near Ground Zero. It is NOT to declare supremacy for religion but to worship God and pay respect to to the people who died during the 9/11 incident as well. Like all other Christians who wept and cried for their beloved who had died in the Twin Towers, there were muslims also who died there and needed to be remembered and prayed for also. I do hope and pray that most of us should see the good intentions, instead of resorting to hatred and violence... to see the intentions of bridging conflicting beliefs by welcoming them in the Cordoba house. Like I keep on telling my Christian students, I did not come to class to convert them to follow my religion, but, to deliver the instructions of the computer subject that I have been tasked to do, I told them that I am there not to discuss our differences in our beliefs but rather to talk about what we have in common: the love to study computers. Likewise with Imam Rauf's intentions, the mosque that will be built is not to convert other Christians or Jews to follow us, but rather to create and build harmonious relationship with all, and share the same purpose inside the same House... it is to pray.

Angela Savage Austin   September 9th, 2010 9:59 pm ET

A letter I wrote to President Obama but would like to know what do you (fellow Bloggers) think about it:

Dear President Obama:
Why not build a circle of Faith circling ground zero,The First Family of Faith, including all religions, who worship in America, separate but equal, working in alignment, being the example " IN GOD WE TRUST" announcing, we the people, come together as one, in Faith to love, live, prosper,and worship,in peace calling on our higher power. Only one door to enter, one path to walk, to get to their place of worship.

After 9/11 I was inspired to write the below:

.YOU ARE MYSELF...One Child's Cry

EVERYONE Inspired by scripture (St. John 19:11) re: 911

The principalities of evil mothers many siblings. Hatred, fear, racism, terrorism, revenge and murder. They are principles of destruction, division, turmoil and confusion.
Let not hopelessness be the beacon of truth to call forth further destruction. Life is inevitable, when the fruits of love, forgiveness and mercy sprouts in the hearts of man-kind.
Be not the mirrored reflection of dismay that shadows our lives on a daily basis. Even the pettiest of cruelties can give birth to a horizon of insanity that harbors persecution and causes one to be distraught.
The beat of a distant drummer is just a heart beat away. The very core of Life that dwells in each of us is the eternal spirit of God Almighty.
A God who so loved the world, he gave his only Holy Son as sacrifice to burden our sins, so that we "all" may live.
This tragedy that the world must endure is yet "another" tremendous sacrifice. We must adhere to God's Will and embrace it so that all must live and let live.
Love God, love yourself, and love your brothers and sisters of this world. Rejoice in the precious gift of Life and celebrate our differences, cultivate our freedom of being one, under God, and we will surely prosper.
I cry out to each and every one of you in Love, Peace, and Harmony. With ALL MY HEART.

"Nothing more needs to be said."

Cajazz76:24:8   September 9th, 2010 10:57 pm ET

What is at stake at ground the witches of Salem, Islam is suffering the same identical ideological punishment..Build the cultural center as planned. How immoral and ancient are those who oppose it?

Terrence Larose   September 9th, 2010 11:54 pm ET

My personal take on this Mosque is that I support them to build it. Yet I can see why some Americans here disagree with the constuction of the Mosque cause it's almost like a slap to the face to us. But why be angered for them building a place of worship. Yes I know that its a couple blocks from ground zero, but has this war created such as hysteria and xenophobic of every Islamic and Muslim in the world. Must we cry terrorist at every Muslim there is. It seems that war blinds our preception of our enemys and how we must cry "Terrorist" because of their religion or race. I'm only 17 years old and yet I can see both sides to this issuse. I remember when 9/11 happen yet I didn't fully understand it at the time. When I was growing up I remember hating the Muslims for doing this act of terrorism, but I was blind by hatered like the rest of society at time. Growing up I slowly respected every man and woman no matter what race or religion. We shouldn't focus on the hatered because their religion or race. It's like saying we should hate every Caucasian US Army Soldier cause he might blow up a government building like what happen in 1995 of the Oklahoma City Bombing because that would be absurd to even think about that. So we must mourn the people and heroes we have lost that tragic day and not focus on hatered due to war that has blinded us on what and who is a terrorist.

Meher Raza   September 10th, 2010 1:58 am ET

A great writer, he is so true and honest.But I am surprised at Imam Rauf.When he is encountering so much opposition from the community surrounding the area where he wants to build the mosque or center,why doesn't he move to some other place.It will end the problem created by the political opportunists.As far as his ideas of brotherhood and unity, he can also preach from there.

Raid   September 10th, 2010 3:01 am ET

What's in a name?

Fr Beck's arguments would be good except that the premise on which they are based fails. He says, "The misrepresentation of Cordoba House as some radical mosque has been but one distortion of the facts."

Yet the very name "Cordoba House" tells another story. While this name may seem of little relevance to those unfamiliar with Islamic imagery, what it actually symbolizes to the Muslims is CONQUEST & SUBJUGATION OF THE WEST.

Much of Spain was invaded by Muslim forces and remained under Islamic occupation for hundreds of years (Middle Ages). Cordoba is a great city in southern Spain that became the capital of an ISLAMIC CALIPHATE in Europe. (Remember Osama Bin Laden talking about "restoring the Caliphate"?).

The choice of name and the site for the mosque betrays the true feelings of the Imam and fellow planners. Fr Beck should be careful about believing the facade of moderation, peace, goodwill, and swimming pools at face value.

Heather   September 10th, 2010 5:32 am ET

PLEASE Look into all your hearts and see the BIG picture . We are
all together on this planet that we love .Love being the key word ...

A man wants to burn the Koran in the name of God
A Man that says he has done nothing yet .....Yelling fire in a crowd
movie theater is one thing ...but this movie theater is the world...
he says the threats he has received, proves that Islam is evil . No sir
the threats are from people just like you, misguided souls who think
they are right, but that doesn't mean the faith they espouse is wrong.

A man wants to build a center ...near to the horror that occurred
9 years ago. ........................................................................ Perpetrate by the same mind set as the misguided
souls who think they are right...
As I understand it,and this man wants it to be a bridge ...
an interfaith bridge , to bring together the families and diverse
faiths of the dear ones that perished that day ..........
and the ones who suffer still...
Good intention ..bad outcome?.. Time will tell ....
As of now though, the same emotions are riding high and we have
so to speak,a "sticky wicket" soooo let us ALL remember that not
one of us is perfect . In our imperfection.... throughout the ages of
this planet we have committed atrocities in the name of God, Who by
whatever name he is called by us, is heartbroken that we don't love
each other and that we do such things .
Let's not throw the baby out with the bath water.
We need to be wise ......discretion it is said is the better part of
valor .......
I hope these two men think on this
I hope we all think on this ......
The big picture ..........every child and this planet.

Dodie from China   September 10th, 2010 8:59 am ET

What is the problem with building the mosque? The world is laughing at us silly, fearful Americans. I am in China now and you can check my ISP addy to show I am telling the truth. Everyone is in a quandry as to our problem with errecting a mosque near ground zero. People ask...what are you Americans afraid of? How could building a mosque place people in danger? I have no answer as I agree with the Chinese. We are being very foolish as a people and country.

j9   September 10th, 2010 9:23 am ET

The proposed mosque is NEAR Ground Zero, not ON Ground Zero! And in Manhattan's financial district everything is 'near.' That's what makes NYC the wonder it is.
When will christians start acting like christians?

GoodGrief   September 10th, 2010 9:31 am ET

Oh yes, just what New York City needs at this time in history ... another tax exempt building (aka Mosque),

If Iman was truly a man of peace, he'd build many PUBLIC buildings throughout the city to be utilized by ALL Americans and visitors to our country that helps the City of New York by being able to pay it's TAXES!

Kathie   September 10th, 2010 10:07 am ET

Father Beck stated this well. If it were not for some politician and a few radicals this would never have become an issue. This Mosque has just as much right to be built as a Christian church or Jewish synagogue. There are radicals in every faith. Look at the so-called "pastor" in Florida spewing his hate filled rant–this does not mean he speaks for all of us but his rant is placing our troops/missionaries/untold thousands of innocent at risk. If fact this "pastor" has neglected to read his Bible and come to know Jesus who preached and demonstrated love and compassion. We cannot classify a "terrorist" according to their religion or race. Remember, McVeigh, the columbine killers, the shootings at discovery channel/other schools?? If people just sat down and talked with each other they would find we are all not that different from one another. Before criticizing take time to educate yourself on the real facts!

mourad   September 10th, 2010 11:26 am ET

The muslim they still need to build next to ground zero, I need just to ask them if they agree to built a church in SAUDI ARABIA or KUWAIT, if they agree so let them built any thing at ground zero, hahaha they will never accept so why they need to built in ground zero, to remind us for what they did???

IKHAN   September 10th, 2010 1:04 pm ET

@ Mimi

there is a Shinto Shrine at Pear Harbor & Christian churches in Hiroshima & Nagasaki.

All this noise & clamor about the Community Center in lower Manahattan is politically motivated & is diverting our attention from real issues. Get this administration embroiled in these non issues & sneak up come election day.

I 'betcha' that those opportunists, mostly from the Republicans, wouldn't let go of this non-issue. This suits those too who want desperately to get noticed & see their glimpses on TV screens. One just has to shout " no mosque on Ground Zero" or carry a placard" No Moslem shrine on sacred ground" or threaten to burn the Quran. No bodies would instantly achieve fame, notoriety or whatever.

Naomi   September 10th, 2010 1:14 pm ET

Folks, note the ominous threat this Imam was giving Americans. I paraphrase-'If YOU DON'T let me build this mosque where I want it you will ignite riots in the Muslim world so you better do what we Muslims want.' This is how they work. They broadcast a warning that propagandists in Muslim countries can take to the streets and whip up a frenzy among the uneducated, illiterate masses–people who have no idea what the whole mosque controversy is really about.
Rauf,"If I knew that this would happen, this would cause this kind of pain, I wouldn't have done it. ..." Excuse me? The Imam should have known. COME ON! Building an Islamic building just yards form where Muslims crashed into our buildings while they recited "Allahu Akbar–God is Great!" and causing thousands of americans to jump to their deaths?
Tolerance works both ways–When a Muslim cleric publicly announces that followers of his "religion of peace" will start killing people because of opposition to building a mosque at Ground Zero–I have a problem with that, don't you?

IKHAN   September 10th, 2010 1:23 pm ET


those handful of terrorists that we are fighting along with our Moslem allies have as much to do with Islam as the Jewish terrorist gangs like, Lehi,Irgun,Kach,Gush Emunim Underground etc have to do with Judaism.
Although the likes of Rabbi Kahane, Rabbi Avraham preach violence & annihilation of Palestinians and all Arabs in the name of Judaism.

Or KKK had to do with Christianity or 'Christian Soldiers' the Hutarees or Protestant Irish carrying out terror acts against the British.

Kumar   September 10th, 2010 2:01 pm ET

I am not a politician nor a radical fundamentalist. This is a free country and unlike other countries you can pretty much do what you want. The proposal for building a Islamic community center is cannot be argued. People have rights to religiious freedom. But we have to figure out what, when, where factors keeping in mind about 9/11.

According to the Imam, he wants to reach out to the society by building a cultural center. Well, that's kind of a vague idea. If someone from the muslim community wants to reach out to other communities and build relationships it can be done without spending $100 million.

My first question is – what have your community done towards the families who lost their lives on 9/11? I am not asking you somone to build a church.

The next point that the Imam kept on repeating was about his relations with the middle east and he emphasized about the muslim world along with our national security.

I dont understand why he is arguing about building the Islamic center right across from Ground Zero. He is certainly not thinking about the American sentiment and kept emphasizing about the Muslim world. he fails to realize that building the community center will hurt people's sentiment as well as increase hatred.

If we never had a situation like 9/11, his proposal would have made lot of sense. But considering the current scenario including our government's efforts in rebuilding Iraq and Afghanistan he is simply putting fuel to the fire.

I strongly feel he should back off from the proposal and think of an alternative plan to build bridges between communities. This is still not a war against Islam but if the Imam doesnot drop his plan, we are yet to see the worse.

He should be able to think about the country he is living in first before thining about his community. I might be wrong with my views but i feel "THE WORLD" is my community and we must protect the interests of the world as a whole and not one community.

I have numnerous ideas as to what can be done to build a nice peace process and build harmony among nations.

Thank you and GOD BLESS!

Ward Fantroy   September 10th, 2010 3:27 pm ET

At some point while addressing the controversy about the so-called ground zero mosque the news media, journalists, politicians, and professional commentators are responsible for stating the obvious: Some people, including some families or family members who lost loved ones on 9/11 are against the Islamic Community Center because it represents Islam. I imagine a larger majority of the highly cited 71% against the building simply wish to support those families and family members but otherwise would not be offended by the building. They probably would not have thought about it at all if they had not been push-polled about it. Also within that 71% are many religious bigots and Islamophobes who find offense with everything Muslim, including the word they use for God. Nevertheless, the news media and most commentators contend that the issue is the Imam’s lack of sensitivity to those who oppose the Community Center. The 9/11 families, the religious bigots, and the Islamophobes who oppose the building do so because they find Islam and Muslims offensive and/or believe the building will desecrate the land it sits on and the surrounding area. Some claim that they have no problems with Muslims; but then say the place where Muslims worship is an offense because it represents Muslims faith. What is this “I have no problem with Muslims stuff”? If a mosque is offensive and desecrates the land, then we should expect that those who think so also would think that every Muslim would desecrate the area if he or she should enter into it. Is ground zero off-limits to Muslims? Does this mean that those Muslims whose blood also was shed on 9/11 are likewise desecrating ground zero and are an offense to 71% of Americans? Many news media and commentators claim that the building is an offense to Americans, a desecration to the land, and/or an insult to the memory of 9/11 simply because it represents Islam. Whether made out of ignorance or out of spite, this claim is an unqualified insult to Muslims and shows a lack of respect and a lack of sensitivity for Muslims’ faith and their feelings. More than 71% of 1.2 billion Muslims are offended by this ignorant or spiteful claim; yet, does this stop the news media, politicians, and commentators from repeating it? And, so what if 71% of Americans are against the Imam’s decision. I posit that close to 71% of Americans opposed Barack Obama when he announced his candidacy for President. If he had been swayed by them or had compromised his beliefs and decision to favor them, then he would not be President today. Instead, he won the election by a landslide. What does this say about making value judgments and faith decisions based on polls?

Randy   September 10th, 2010 3:55 pm ET

To most people leaving comments: Very thoughtful.
To Debbie: Are you ignorant ?
According to a Rand study and also a State Department study (2006) of global terrorist incidents, about 25% -30% of all terrorist attacks are committed by Muslims. While about 70% – 75% are committed by people who are not Muslims.
Recent Events:
How about the atrocities in Congo committed by the LRA (Lord's Resistance Army) who wants to establish the Ten Commandments there ? Are they Christian terrorists ?
Armed groups raped more than 150 women in a village in the volatile North Kivu province in the Democratic Republic of Congo in a four-day spree. Did Muslims do that ? No...
How about Maoists bombings in India during the most recent elections ? The huge number of civilian deaths and refugees due to fighting between the Tamil Tigers and the Sri Lankan Government.
How about Maoists killings of around 70 policemen in India a few months ago ?
How about the recent brutal massacre in Philippines of the women lawyers and political figures ? Were those Hindu or Christian or Buddhists terrorists who committed them ?
Why did the Hutu militias broadcast their intentions from Church Loudspeakers before embarking on the Rwandan Genocide in 1994 ? Why did they massacre people seeking refuge in churches ?
How about the Serb Massacre of Muslims in Bosnia ?
About the Mosque:
The Mosque is being used right now. What is the sensitivity exactly about ? How is this mosque related to Ground Zero or 9/11 ? Seeing a Mosque built by American Muslims who had nothing to do with 9/11 reopens wounds ? Will seeing an American Muslim walk by, who had nothing to do with 9/11 reopen wounds ?
Besides, didn't the 9/11 terror group state US troops in Saudi Arabia, then sanctions on Iraq and Palestinian occupation as their reasoning for 9/11 ? Thus making it political rather than religious ?
Lastly, the invasion of Iraq resulted in the deaths of nearly 100,000 Iraqis. And the US has built an Embassy, the size of the Vatican, in the heart of Baghdad. Isn't that more of a symbol of domination ? Rather than an Islamic cultural center in Manhattan ? Anyone asked the millions of Iraqi refugees what they thought about the US Embassy in Baghdad ?

maryrm   September 10th, 2010 4:42 pm ET

As far as this 'ground zero' mosque – the amoral politicians and media must accept their measure of culpability – their love of catchy or inflammatory phrases to get followers and ratings without any consideration for the consequences of their actions. They want freedom without responsibility, playing with fire and then are surprised when someone gets burned. There was no opposition until these 2 groups started to manipulate it for their own benefit.

The esteemed religious leaders like Fr. Beck and their congregations can gather as a huge crowd in the same place as this 'pastor' to hold a prayer vigil and carry signs for peace in opposition to this man's act of hate. The media will already be there. The difference in the numbers will be obvious. Most of the civilized world has hate laws that protect against inciting hatred and since the U.S. does not, this is an option for them.

Dawn   September 12th, 2010 9:52 pm ET

I feel that he is telling us all in a round about way, that if this mosque
is not built or that he moves it, there is going to be violence from the Radical Islamists and Radical Christians. The American people do not want an Islamic Mosque built near ground zero because it is Sacred Ground. It was Islam, Radical Islam or not who killed them.
Building this Mosque will only be a slap in the face to the American
People. I believe in freedom of Relegion, however I also believe in
respecting other people's beliefs as well.
Please take Donald Trumps offer and you will have the Admiration and Gratitude of the American People, and promote Peace in a better way.

ramona   September 13th, 2010 10:41 am ET

Very nicely written, Thank you Father Edward Beck. Please remember that there were muslims who died as well on the horrible day of 9/11. We understand the emotions and sentiments of our fellow Americans but we are Americans too, and till this day we pay the price for being a muslim in america beacuse the people who did the hedious act claimed to be muslims. If a muslim woman goes out with a head cover she has to face the odd looks and comments of other people which I am sure are made out of ignorance rather that hatred. Travelling and going thru immigration is painful. But we have to stay united. Diversity is power and it is what makes America strong and powerful. Tolerance , Peace, Love and Compassion is the goal. For American muslims This is home and we love it. Please do not Judge us or our religion by the acts of those who have no respect for any religion, life or anything else.

Ed's Kate   September 14th, 2010 5:32 pm ET

What an excellent article . It says it all. Thank you, Father Edward L. Beck, C.P., you have hit the nail on the head as the saying goes. What this country needs are more people like you and the other religious leaders and U.S.Citizens who are not condeming this Imam or all Muslims. This country was founded with religious tolerance and acceptance for everyone. There has been too much emphasis on this building's "religious" aspect. It is so hard for all involved in this project to be accepted at their word as to what the building is all about due to false accusations and those accusations, insinuations, etc have got to stop. All Muslims should NOT be judged by the actions of a few radicals. If all religions and organizations were judged by the radical few in those congregations and organizations we would all be doomed. Please, folks, stop, take a deep breath and think before you speak. Doing this will help to heal all of us. There were people of all races, creeds and nationalities killed in the 9/11 attack. Don't forget this, folks. God bless you and Thank You again, Father Edward L. Beck C.P. for speaking out like you did.

mulsims   September 19th, 2010 11:16 pm ET

If the Muslim's want to really make Peace they will not continue with this. He will extend an olive branch and respect their fellow Americans and move the mosque away from Ground 0 out of respect only.
I do think they have a right to build but not build on other people's sorrow. Peace out to everyone.

Prog. Zeppelin   September 22nd, 2010 8:53 pm ET

I find the issue to be grossly distorted.
-The Park 51 Cultural Center is a good 2 FREAKIN' BLOCKS from Ground Zero! It is near the Sex Toy shops (which apparently aren't offensive at all to Cons) and a Church is closer.

-The Imam has worked with the FBI in the past as a cultural awareness director in 2003 and the State Department in 2007 and twice in 2010 as part of a speaker program to talk about religious tolerance. He is also a Sufi, an Islamic sect that is persecuted by extremists and was deemed in 2007 by the RAND Co. is a potential partner against Radical Islam.

-The Taliban themselves oppose this building. Their spokesman Zabihullah, said in a recent Newsweek article that they hope it will be opposed due to the support they gain from the anger of nearby fundamentalists.
Please explain how a moderate Muslim like the Imam Abdul is building a "victory mosque" ( which is open to all faiths, has a pool and children's center) ?
And to Father Beck, Amen, good sir.

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