Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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August 30, 2010

WAITING PATIENTLY FOR THE 'GROUND ZERO CHURCH' OUTRAGE.... A radical Christian preacher in Florida named Bill Keller has an idea. Apparently, what lower Manhattan really needs is a "9-11 Christian Center at Ground Zero" that would -- as luck would have it -- be two city blocks away from where the Twin Towers once stood.

Justin Elliott reports today that Keller will start preaching two blocks south of Ground Zero this weekend, and hopes to raise $8 million for his proposed building.

To get a sense of where Keller is coming from, consider his project's website, which calls Islam a religion of "hate and death" whose adherents will go to hell. It also says: "Islam is a wonderful religion... for PEDOPHILES!"

Keller is the same pastor who hosted a Birther infomercial that encouraged viewers to send him and a partner donations to advance the Birther cause. His Internet ministry explicitly calls President Obama the new Hitler. He calls homosexuality a perversion. And in 2008, he targeted presidential contender Mitt Romney for being Mormon with a campaign called "voting for Satan."

In short, if critics of the Park51 Islamic community center -- which is explicitly welcoming of all faiths -- truly believe that there is a "zone of solemnity" around ground zero (as Gov. Pat Quinn put it), they should be horrified at Keller's 9/11 Christian Center.

Critics of Park51 insist their opposition is not motivated by anti-Muslim animus. This would seem to offer quite an opportunity, then, for even-handed disapproval. Indeed, it seems like a no-brainer.

Here we have a radical figure, who's lashed out wildly at Americans, intending to build a controversial religious center two blocks from Ground Zero. We don't know where his money will come from, or what kind of zealotry will spread from the building.

I'm entirely comfortable with Park51 and the 9/11 Christian Center being built. If opponents of the former aren't motivated by anti-Muslim bigotry, then the latter should be denounced, too, right?

Steve Benen 2:10 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (28)

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Can't they just put up a Cheesecake Factory and be done with it?!

Posted by: SaintZak on August 30, 2010 at 2:13 PM | PERMALINK

More to the point, Steve: if YOU'RE serious about religious freedom, then YOU'RE okay with this hateful bastard getting to preach there.


Posted by: theAmericanist on August 30, 2010 at 2:16 PM | PERMALINK

Steve, Steve, Steve... Radical Christians didn't blow up the Sacred 9/11 Ground Zero Towers, don't paint all insane fundamentalists with the same broad brush.

Posted by: Mike on August 30, 2010 at 2:25 PM | PERMALINK

@theAmericanist, Steve's perfectly clear on your point:

"I'm entirely comfortable with Park51 and the 9/11 Christian Center being built."

Posted by: R.A. Porter on August 30, 2010 at 2:26 PM | PERMALINK

I'm with Mike. This is a false equivalency.

Posted by: smiley on August 30, 2010 at 2:31 PM | PERMALINK

theAmericanist illustrates perfectly the Right's penchant for listening carefully to the other side.

Posted by: rusty chainsaw on August 30, 2010 at 2:32 PM | PERMALINK

While radical Christians didn't blow up the WTC, two of them did blow up the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, an incident which was, prior to 9/11, the deadliest terrorist attack in US history. And I would also note that, from a historical perspective, Islam will have to go on a bloody rampage for quite a while to catch up w/Christianity in that regard.


Posted by: Zorro on August 30, 2010 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

Z: Well, Christianity does have a 600 year head start;>

Posted by: martin on August 30, 2010 at 2:40 PM | PERMALINK

New York cabdrivers are collecting donations for Ahmed Sharif, the man who was stabbed for not denying his faith. Here is the link to the story about the LOW response rate to this effort thus far: http://crooksandliars.com/susie-madrak/donations-slashed-nyc-cabbie-would-ba

and, here is the link to the taxi workers alliance page on the subject:

and, here is the address to send such donations:
Checks and money orders can be made payable to, "Ahmed Sharif"
Mail to:
Ahmed Sharif
c/o New York Taxi Workers Alliance
250 Fifth Avenue, Suite 310
NY, NY 10001

Want to protest the mishigas around all of this? Send this man something to help support his family.

Posted by: withay on August 30, 2010 at 2:44 PM | PERMALINK

I love how "zone of solemnity" is an argument against houses of worship but not against strip joints.

Posted by: Chris S. on August 30, 2010 at 2:50 PM | PERMALINK

This a "false equivalency" only in that conservatives have zero interest in equality.

That being said, there is a vast difference between the way the media mouths/politicians rail against the ICC and the way the rank and file are going about it. The former have talked themselves into a fairly tight corner regarding the building of any church there. Meanwhile, the latter believe the entire island of Manhattan should be a fundamentalist Christian church.

Posted by: chrenson on August 30, 2010 at 2:53 PM | PERMALINK

Anyone who uses Christianity to hate is a blasphemer, plain and simple!

Bill Keller would do well to read a little bit of Dante and he'd find betrayers of the faith are reserved for Canto 34 where they are continuously gnashed by the beast until night, only to be reconstituted, and gnashed again at dawn!

In his invincible ignorance, Keller is reserving his place in Hell! -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on August 30, 2010 at 2:57 PM | PERMALINK

Can't they just put up a Cheesecake Factory and be done with it?!

Posted by: SaintZak on August 30, 2010 at 2:13 PM

LOL - thanks SaintZak! I think this Park51 "controversy" has been hashed out way too long. It's absurd and silly that we've all stooped (Americans in general) to such a low level that this has become what it has - total BS.

Posted by: whichwitch on August 30, 2010 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK

I don't think anybody who ever founded any religion ever expected it to get to this point. The law of unintended consequences, on steroids.

Posted by: Mark on August 30, 2010 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK

Once again, organized religion proves to be the bane of humanity.

If you agree with me, send me a dollar. Of course, in the spirit of the First Amendment, if you DON'T agree with me, send me a dollar. . .

Posted by: DAY on August 30, 2010 at 3:13 PM | PERMALINK

I support the Muslim centre and would be honoured to donate to it.

Posted by: Bob M on August 30, 2010 at 3:14 PM | PERMALINK

"Islam is a wonderful religion... for PEDOPHILES!"???

Wait, what type of religion is that one big church with the leader guy with the funny hat that's priests are always getting in trouble for child molestation? I can't remember.

Posted by: chrenson on August 30, 2010 at 3:16 PM | PERMALINK

F*CK!F*CK!F*CK! Why didn't I think of that!!!!!!!
That b@stard is going to be printing money from all the right wing, bed wetting, hysterics!!!!

Posted by: Dervin on August 30, 2010 at 3:19 PM | PERMALINK

How is this false equivalency?

The people who destroyed the Twin Towers were Fundamentalist Muslims. The people who want to build Park51 are non-Fundamentalist Muslims. Keller is a Fundamentalist non-Muslim.

Sounds like a good parallel to me.

And who says strip joints aren't Places of Worship? They are solemnly dedicated to the doctrines of Aphrodite and Bacchus, both of whom pre-date Christianity and Islam.

Posted by: Tim H on August 30, 2010 at 3:20 PM | PERMALINK

This Keller person sure seems like a swell guy.....FOR ME TO POOP ON!!!

Posted by: TRIUMPH on August 30, 2010 at 3:50 PM | PERMALINK

Man, you guys have painted yourselves so far into the corner the brush is tangling up your shoelaces.

Steve sez this is about the First Amendment, and so he's for BOTH the hateful Bill Keller (not to be confused with the NYT editor) AND the Cordoba project getting built.

But, um, Steve: Cordoba doesn't have the money. Does Keller?

If it turns out that Cordoba doesn't have the dough, but Keller does -- the First Amendment sez Keller's gets built, and Cordoba does not.

And what will you be bitching about when you protest that?

LOL -- this is why I keep suggesting that you folks would do well to think a few steps ahead before you speak up, oh so certain that you know all there is to know about something.

1) To the extent the Cordoba project is a First Amendment issue, it was over weeks ago. They have all the permits they need.

2) Continuing to bitch about folks who complain about the Cordoba project as if they've blocked it is simply false. If it doesn't get built, that's gonna be because they didn't raise the money -- f'r instance, the way the developer is evidently $225k behind on his taxes for the site.

3) Claiming to be FOR the First Amendment, while you complain that folks are exercising it, e.g., in objecting to Rauf's peculiar notions and remarks, isn't exactly the smartest nor the most consistent place to be.

4) And insisting that opponents of the Cordoba project, including a great many Muslims who have objected to it, most be motived by a bias against Islam is simply ignorant.

As the Jena principal said: Lower the stakes.

Posted by: theAmericanist on August 30, 2010 at 3:55 PM | PERMALINK

Please don't feed the crazy commenter, folks.

Posted by: Mod on August 30, 2010 at 4:10 PM | PERMALINK

Obviously, this cracker has never been to lower Manhattan. Somebody please be sure to videotape him trying to extort money out of Wall Street types by day and crack whores by night.

Posted by: Yellow Dog on August 30, 2010 at 4:12 PM | PERMALINK

Please don't feed the crazy commenter, folks.

Good call Mod. I was just about to make that mistake but you are wise in the ways of the interwebs.

Posted by: brent on August 30, 2010 at 4:15 PM | PERMALINK

The fraction of the anti-Park51 crowd that even pretends that this isn't an anti-Muslim thing is a tiny minority.

We're not going to get anywhere calling them out as hypocrites when most of them can quite truthfully say they've ALWAYS framed this as a "screw-you-Mohammed" deal.

Posted by: Matt on August 30, 2010 at 4:50 PM | PERMALINK

LOL -- as a reality check (verifying yer sanity is a fool's errand), a series of predictions, which can all be used to establish whose reading of this is more accurate:

1) The Cordoba project will (at least try to) quietly collapse for lack of funds.

2) The Keller project will be able to raise the money, but will run into all kinds of procedural roadblocks.

3) Steve B will continue to find a First Amendment violation in the Cordoba failure to build, despite having been granted all the necessary permits, but

4) Will have nothing to say about the procedural hurdles that magically appear for the Keller project. He sure as hell won't defend their First Amendment right to build, because he wants to dis people who never saw the Cordoba project as a First Amendment problem.

5) Nor will Steve B ever catch on that he didn't have to be such a blatant hypocrite if he'd adopted the Skokie model, in which the Nazi's right to march was defended on First Amendment grounds by folks who also noted that they were assholes, even as

6) He rather sheepishly realizes that he was dissing folks who recognized Rauf for what he is, before he compared Rauf to Keller. (Note to folks who don't understand forensics: when you say that Rauf is a reformer, AND that it does not matter what he believes, it is the first statement that counts. When you say that Keller is a jerk, BUT folks who reject Rauf as a reformer should also condemn him, you reinforce your unexamined premise that Rauf's actual views matter.) Finally,

7) Steve B (much less the Mods) will never bother to apply the standards they use for criticizing various denominations (e.g., Roman Catholics, evangelical Christians, etc.) to Muslims -- even as they insist that Islam is not monolithic, except in its immunity to real criticism.

Grow up, folks. You're transparent, so people can see through you -- you might, now and again, try to notice what they see.

Posted by: theAmericanist on August 31, 2010 at 8:01 AM | PERMALINK

BTW, this is how the Skokie model works -- note how Hatch follows EXACTLY the framing I've been suggesting for weeks: he says that insofar as this is a First Amendment case, it's a done deal, and then he goes on to respect the feelings of people who have a negative reaction.

Lower the stakes:

"HATCH: Let’s be honest about it, in the First Amendment, religious freedom, religious expression, that really express matters to the Constitution. So, if the Muslims own that property, that private property, and they want to build a mosque there, they should have the right to do so. The only question is are they being insensitive to those who suffered the loss of loved ones? We know there are Muslims killed on 9/11 too and we know it’s a great religion. … But as far as their right to build that mosque, they have that right.

I just think what’s made this country great is we have religious freedom. That’s not the only thing, but it’s one of the most important things in the Constitution. [...]

There’s a question of whether it’s too close to the 9/11 area, but it’s a few blocks away, it isn’t right there. … And here’s a huge, I think, lack of support throughout the country for Islam to build that mosque there, but that should not make a difference if they decide to do it. I’d be the first to stand up for their rights."

Steve B would have done better to start with Hatch's position, rather than to have been so eager to fit this mess into his preconceptions.

Posted by: theAmericanist on August 31, 2010 at 8:08 AM | PERMALINK

Finden Sie günstige Ferienhäuser

Posted by: fette weiber on December 27, 2010 at 10:59 AM | PERMALINK



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