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Friday, April 18, 2014         

VOLCANIC ASH


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Religious intolerance is still strongly expressed in U.S.

By David Shapiro

POSTED:



For a country that was founded by people who came here to avoid religious persecution, we're sure having a lot of trouble finding tolerance in our hearts more than two centuries later.

A $100 million mosque and Islamic center planned in New York City near the World Trade Center is the latest religious war zone, with a protester calling it a tribute to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorists "for the worship of the terrorists' monkey-god."

Never mind that one Jewish leader described the leader of the project as "one of the most constructive forces of Islam in the U.S. today ... the kind of Muslim voice we need to empower and encourage."

Understandably, feelings about 9/11 are still raw, but we can't fairly blame American Muslims for that terrorist atrocity any more than we can blame Japanese-Americans for the attack on Pearl Harbor.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg rightly noted that freedom of religion applies to all, saying, "We would betray our values -- and play into our enemies' hands -- if we were to treat Muslims differently than anyone else."

Similar battles are occurring across the country.

In Temecula, Calif., protesters against a mosque proposed to be built next to a Baptist church were urged to bring "guns, Bibles and dogs."

Opponents of an Islamic center expansion in Murfreesboro, Tenn., vandalized the site, claiming it would be a terrorist training ground. The mosque's leader has lived in the area for 30 years.

Even in Hawaii, with our reputation for tolerance, state Rep. Lyla Berg is still taking grief in her campaign for lieutenant governor for a resolution she sponsored declaring last Sept. 24 as Islam Day. It was dubbed by some the "Aloha, Terrorists" resolution.

Her harshest critics hauled out the old Julian calendar to "prove" the date was picked as a celebration of 9/11, using logic reminiscent of those who argued that "Puff the Magic Dragon" was a drug anthem.

Berg may have been politically naive, but the Legislature's gesture meant something to local Muslims and the event was hardly subversive; Muslims used the day to help restock the Hawaii Foodbank while "sharing the qualities and attributes of our faith with those of other faiths."

We have some 2,000 religions practiced in this country, and there's really no sustainable option but to observe tolerance -- and recognize that it goes both ways.

Some on the left would do well to lose the smug hostility to Christian beliefs in which the red states are insultingly dismissed as "Jesusland."

Those who don't want religion forced on them should be as considerate about not forcing pop values that glorify drugs, promiscuity and vulgarity on fellow citizens who take their religion seriously.

David Shapiro can be reached at volcanicash@gmail.com or blog.volcanicash.net.






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