Social Question

josie's avatar

Are only certain people entitled to "religious freedom"?

Asked by josie (30926points) August 25th, 2010

I am atheist, so frankly I have no stake in the argument. Having said that, I have noticed the following: Islamists who want to build an Islamic center near ground zero are entitled to do so because America is founded on the principle of religious freedom. Christians who want to say a prayer in school are not entitled to do so because, well, because they have no such religious freedom. So why do some folks get the “religious freedom” pass, and others do not?

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46 Answers

Seek's avatar

Christians can say a prayer in school. Just look at AP History during finals week. My high school used to participate in Prayer at the Flagpole. Because it was extracurricular and not required, it was cool. We once had a devout Muslim student who would quietly take five minutes to kneel in the back of the room during 6th grade Geography.

Christian teachers however, cannot lead the class in a prayer as they used to do.

aprilsimnel's avatar

Because the mosque is going to be built on private property.

Mandatory participation in daily prayers in public schools that are under government authority and paid for by public taxes would appear to look as if the government is dictating religion, which the 1st Amendment prohibits. Private and parochial schools routinely open their school days with chapel and/or prayers.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

There is a separation of church and state. Building a center that includes a place of worship has nothing to do with the state, it is a private matter. Having kids pray in school when they aren’t of that religion is impeding on their right to separation of church and state because public schools are an extension of state. Simple as pie.

holden's avatar

Christian students are free to say prayers in public schools whenever the hell they want, they just don’t get special time set aside for worship because it violates the doctrine of separation of church and state. Muslims (not Islamists) can build mosques near ground zero because the first amendment allows them to. Are you forgetting that there are Christian churches near ground zero as well?

chyna's avatar

The property is owned by muslims so they can build what they want to build on the property.

DominicX's avatar

Is it just me or are all your questions sensationalistic? One thing’s for sure, they reek of misunderstanding…

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@DominicX Sensationalistic – nice. A good mix of sensationalist and nationalistic.

Pandora's avatar

I don’t think it has so much to do with religion as it has to do with spitting in someones face. Supposenly it is proposed to build the mosque so that the city can heal. However many New Yorkers see it as a taunt. We (moslems) not only destroyed and killed thousands that day but we would like to raise a house of worship over an area we defeated.
I am not saying that is what they are doing but I don’t think it has as much to do with religion as it does with opening a barely healed scar.
If I had lost someone near to me in those towers, I would be sore at all Moslems even if I understood it was fanatical terrorists. I wouldn’t want to give those terrorist to have any thing to smile about. And in all likely hood, in there twisted little minds they would see the raising of a mosque as a win for them as well. Not as a bonding or healing for the city.
If they are really concerned about the city healing than they should let time do its thing and heal the city. Picking at a scab can only result in an infection. They should leave it alone and let there be other ways to help.

josie's avatar

According to Dictionary.com Senstionalistic-the use of strongly emotional subject matter, or wildly dramatic style, language, or artistic expression, that is intended to shock, startle, thrill, excite, etc.
I like it.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

Whether you, @josie, are an atheist or not, you have a stake in the debate. The US Constitution mandates the separation of church and state. You are guarantied the right to believe as you wish or not or to worship as you wish or not. Atheists have just as much at stake as believers in religious freedom.

I have lived in countries where there was a nationally recognized religion, and it was frightening to me. The citizens were expected to believe in a certain way and more importantly, to behave in a certain way.

The mosque in Downtown NYC is a private matter. It is not the purview of the government to take sides. The Alamo in San Antonio, Texas, was attacked by Roman Catholic Mexicans. Should Catholic churches be banned in the area?

Prayer in state-funded schools requires that the students participate in a religious activity, which clearly violates the separation of church and state. Atheists should be especially grateful they aren’t forced to pray.

zophu's avatar

It’s not that difficult of a situation. Either they have the right to exercise their religion how they wish to as anyone else would, or they don’t. It’s not like the US has ever been founded on the principals of freedom for all, despite the rhetoric. We’ve been selectively deciding who gets what “basic rights” since we began. Why stop now?

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Pandora While I disagree with almost anything you’re saying, these views again matter not because this is a property anyone can do anything with. It doesn’t matter whether you or Josie want to hate all Muslims against all logic or that I, as an atheist, want to defend this mosque against all my hatred of religion…it matters not because this country isn’t about how people feel, it’s about corporatism and private interests win…if you think your feelings on this should matter, why can’t my feelings for gay marriage? Either everyone gets screwed because of religion (no matter which it is) or nobody does.

Pandora's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir I’m just stating that I don’t think people in the city see it as a religious war. But rather against the Muslims. And once again you jumped the gun. I do not hate all Muslims.
I could even care less if they build a mosques next to me. I am simply saying that many New Yorkers see this as a slap in the face. They are not being told they cannot build a mosque anywhere else simply that many who lost family members there are uncomfortable with it.
If a killer killed someone you loved and then a family member of theirs profited from the murder, you would still be angry. Can they do it. Sure. They can write a book all about how your family member was slaughtered and make money off of it. That would have nothing to do with religion.
So many New Yorkers who had family members murdered their feel that if they build a mosque there they will profit. Not in money but that some may feel (terrrorist) that they won.
It would be rubbing salt in an open wound for many. You do not have to agree with the idea. But it doesn’t change how many feel.
Not to mention. The mosque is already getting lots of threats. So the police is suppose to constantly watch over this one mosque day in and day out because someone holds a grudge.
At the very least the thought of pushing a whole cities buttons is foolish.

fundevogel's avatar

@Pandora “We (moslems) not only destroyed and killed thousands that day but we would like to raise a house of worship over an area we defeated.”

Um, terrorists destroyed the Twin Towers. There is no indivisible unit of muslim-ity that conspired to destroy the Towers and then build a community center laughing maniacally the whole time. They aren’t the Borg.

Believe it or not Muslim people aren’t entirely motivated by a desire to piss off non-Muslims. Maybe they just wanted to build a community center in their community on the property they own.

“If I had lost someone near to me in those towers, I would be sore at all Moslems even if I understood it was fanatical terrorists. I wouldn’t want to give those terrorist to have any thing to smile about. And in all likely hood, in there twisted little minds they would see the raising of a mosque as a win for them as well.”

So you would prefer to restrict American’s rights, so long as they were Muslim Americans, so that some random terrorists wouldn’t have reason to get snotty? I’m pretty sure that our Constitution prioritizes American’s rights, no matter their religion, over managing what other people think of us. I mean come on. Are we in high school?

And what about Muslims that died during 9/11? Do their feelings as victims of 9/11 count less because they’re Muslim?

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Pandora I saw the towers fall with my own two eyes, know people who have lost loved ones, grieved for a month because the city was so down and I do not see it as slap to the face. But I’m best friends with a Muslim so that makes me the anti-christ, anyway. As @fundevogel points out, plenty of Muslims died as well and plenty of Muslims grieved. As to your last point, hardly do I imagine that you care about this mosque being threatened by nutjobs.

chyna's avatar

Also, the mosque is 2 blocks away, not right on the twin towers site. It is my understanding that this building has been used as a mosque all this time anyway. Am I correct or not in this understanding?

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@chyna I have read that people have been using it for prayers.

ETpro's avatar

It works like this. Only the “Real Americans” are entitled to certain parts of the Constitution. Sarah Palin decides who Real Americans are. That certainly goes for 1st Amendment rights to free speech, which the Founding Fathers obviously meant mainly for “citizens” that are the world’s largest multinational corporations. And that stuff about freedom of religion only applies to those who the “Real Americans” decide count as a religion. And the founding Fathers obviously meant by “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion”.that Congress should make Christianity the state religion and everyone who refuses to allow statues of Jesus and Crosses on their front steps should be banished from America. Also the 14th Amendment. Only parts of it apply to everybody. Parts about birthright citizenship, for instance, only apply to whoever the “Real Americans” decide they apply to at any given time.

All that stuff about Congress having the power to levy taxes and regulate trade isn’t in there. Nothing to see here, just keep moving.

This brought to you by American Constitutionalists for Strict Interpretation.

Pandora's avatar

@fundevogel The statement I made about how I would feel towards all Muslims if I lost someone there is not speaking of how I feel. I’m simply stating how most people react to violence of any kind.
There are women who when are raped, hate all men. Not all men created the offense but sometimes it is our human reaction not to trust a group after a violent act. I’m not saying that way of thinking is correct. But in case of a rape would you tell the women she is being ridiculous towards all men or would you give her time to recover and make her own way back towards peaceful thoughts. So to those who lost family members at the towers and who may still have some conflicting feeling. Do you just tell them get over it and grow up. Its life, or do you give them the time they need to deal with their lost?
@Simone_De_Beauvoir I think you have a hard time believing anything I say isn’t filled with malice. The same way I find it hard to believe you would find anything I have to say as ever being acceptable simply because you don’t agree with many of my view. Even if my view is said without malicious intent.

holden's avatar

dudes, I think we’ve been trollbaited.

ETpro's avatar

@Pandora I don’t think most people react that way to violence. Timothy McVeigh killed 168 people in the Muir Federal Building bombing in 1995. McVeigh was raised Christian and he was white. I frankly don’t know of anyone who generalized from the fact that McVeigh and his accomplices fit that mold to the idea that all eWhite people were responsible for the bombing and shouldn’t come near the site.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Pandora I don’t believe everything you say is filled with malice and that’s honest to god (err, universe) truth. And there is a LOT you say that I agree with (this particular question doesn’t count.) I do think, however, that people imagine all my words to be malicious as well so I guess you and I are in the same boat.

fundevogel's avatar

@Pandora “The statement I made about how I would feel towards all Muslims if I lost someone there is not speaking of how I feel. I’m simply stating how most people react to violence of any kind.”

I understand, but no one has a right to not ever have their feelings hurt or be offended. We all have a right to freely practice our religion. As such you can’t suggest that something that has never been protected by law is justification for infringing on one of the founding principles of this country.

“Do you just tell them get over it and grow up. Its life, or do you give them the time they need to deal with their lost?”

This is a false dichotomy. Standing up for one party’s basic rights does not require me to slap someone else across the face.

JLeslie's avatar

To the original question. It is apples and oranges as others have said. When the Christian is ok with a Muslim teacher in public school having all of the children face east a couple of times a day and say a prayer in Arabic, then maybe I listen to whatever bullshit argument they might have for prayer in school led by faculty.

@Pandora I would not tell the woman she is being ridicuclous for being wary of men, especially immediately after the rape, but the government would protect a man’s right to rent the apartment next door to her.

fundevogel's avatar

@holden I love trolls.

Pandora's avatar

@JLeslie You have a valid point. :D

Pandora's avatar

hey I didn’t write that twice. It did that on its own.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@holden The OP isn’t a troll, by definition.

rooeytoo's avatar

It’s legal, they have the right to build it. But I have the right to not be too crazy about the idea. I also think it is in poor taste for the muslim group building it to claim they are doing it to help heal the wound and bridge the gap. I think if that were really the case they would at the very least hold off for a while. So go ahead and build but don’t give me this bull about why you are doing it.

My only other complaint is that the moderate muslims in which catagory most fall, are not vocal or judgemental against the extremists. More often than not when the jihadists strike the rest of the muslim community has very little to say. I think at that point they should be distancing themselves and denouncing that sort of behavior. But I guess it is like when a priest or a preacher is found to be a pedophile, the church usually sort of turns its head and hopes that it all goes away quickly. Unfortunately it hasn’t worked that way in either case.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@rooeytoo I do think many Muslims have been vocal against the extremists, but maybe it’s just the community I’m in.

JLeslie's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir You live in NYC right?

rooeytoo's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir – it could just be the way the media chooses to report, that is always a problem when trying to fairly assess without direct contact.

In Sydney, there is a real manical leader of an extremist muslim sect. He is constantly in the news making some outrageous statement or claim. He is, I would think, an embarrassment to the rest, but rarely is he chastised by his peers, they just turn their heads. I find that very irresponsible. A few years back there was a group of young muslim males preying on and gang raping non muslim girls, this fine fellow said these women were all whores, pieces of meat asking to be taken and received what they deserved. The silence that ensued was deafening.

JLeslie's avatar

@rooeytoo How awful. I too have been a little critical that there are not more outspoken voices in the media against Al Qaeda and the 9/11 attacks by Muslims. But, honestly, when I do see Muslims say on TV that the relgion is a peaceful religion, and try to explain their personal beliefs, I don’t think any of the haters believe them.

Shortly after the attacks I remember working one day and an Iranian coworker said to me it was pure evil. My Palestinian friend went to donate blood. I wonder if they are reluctant to speak out in the media because there is some unwritten code, like police officers are not going to talk badly in the news about a corrupt precinct? Or, maybe or good Muslims it is so not a part of what they are, they don’t feel compelled? If a bunch of Jewish people blew up a building, I wouldn’t feel like I need to go on tv to tell people Jews typically don’t do that. But, I would have the thought in my head – crap, why did it have to be Jewish people doing such a horrible thing? Because, as a religious minority I know people generalize in this way. I guess in America since Jews are not sterotyped to be violent, we might not have a lot of stigma cast onto the community for an incident.

AstroChuck's avatar

To those of you who seem to be having a problem with a mosque being built somewhat near the site of the twin tower collapse let me ask you a question. Suppose for a minute a fanatic group of people, say four or five, where members of Opus Dei. Now while Opus Dei is an extremely conservative sect within the Roman Catholic church, it certainly is not a terrorist organization. But suppose these four or five members have taken their faith and twisted it to a point where they’ve become fanatical and violent. Suppose they have taken it upon themselves to load up a few vans with explosives and parked them outside a large urban hospital where they know abortions are performed. They set them off demolishing the hospital and killing thousands. Now suppose a decade later the local diocese decides they want to build Our Lady of Perpetual Responsibility on property they own a few blocks away from the site where the hospital once stood. Keeping in mind the Vatican had absolutely no hand in the actions of a few people who had a twisted view of Catholicism, would any of you have a problem with the building of this church? If not, why not? How would this be any different than Muslims building an Islamic Center a few blocks from Ground Zero?

JLeslie's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir So ironic right? The people who seem the most hateful towards Muslims are Christians in areas that barely have any Muslims living there. That is why on fluther I always ask the Muslimaphobes if they even know any Muslims personally. For them Muslims are like the monster in the dark.

Pandora's avatar

@AstroChuck Funny you should ask this. I am Christian and although I know the Vatican had nothing to do with the group I would not want them to build a church their if it meant hurting more than healing. Until all the family members of the victims felt comfortable with the idea, I would not want any more pain to come of it. Even though it would’ve had nothing to do with my faith and it only had to do with the fanatics who twisted our faith.
Its not right to blame any whole group for the actions of a few. But since I can’t make it right again, I can at least do my share not to make it any worse for those who are in pain.

JLeslie's avatar

I heard that this particular sect of Muslims (is sect correct) are very moderate Muslims, and what I heard the wife of the Imam say was that they, like other religions, are becoming Americanized, and want to have a community center similar to the JCC and YMCA. I for one am all for encouraging any religion to be less religious. I do not mean take away their religious beliefs, or turn them into atheists, but a watering down of the religion, and terating more as a social bond then a strict tenet to follow sounds good to me.

ETpro's avatar

@JLeslie That is true. Even the mainstream media is spouting right-wing talking points in discussing the project. They routinely refer to it as the “mosque at ground zero.” In truth there is no plan to build a mosque. What they obtained a permit to build is a Civic Center with a pool, game room, library and a prayer room. All faiths will be welcomed to it. And it is not at ground zero, it is not in its shadow—and still won’t be when the Ground Zero construction is complete and starts casting a shadow. In fact, it won’t even be visible from Ground Zero. It is two blocks away and around the corner from one corner of the Ground Zero property.

I know that there are families of victims that have legitimate feelings of frustration and pain over this. There are also families who lost loved ones and are supporting the project because they believe it is a step in rebuilding trust between Christians and Muslims.

What irritates me so are the politicians doing the Joe McCarthy demagoguery of this issue. They are doing enormous harm to our image in the Muslim world. We are trying to build a stable government in Afghanistan and defeat a determined insurgency there. The only way we can succeed at that is by winning the hearts and minds of the Afghan people, virtually all of whom are Muslims. And this controversy is just what the Taliban and radical Islamists need to make sure we fail at that. THat’s a hell of a price to be willing to pay to gather a few votes.

fundevogel's avatar

@ETpro Do you remember the proper name of the center? I heard it, forgot it, and when I went to look for the name everyone was just calling it “the Ground Zero Mosque” though, as you already explained, that isn’t accurate at all.

ETpro's avatar

It’s now planned to be called Park 51 now. Originally they planned to call it the Cordoba Center because Cordoba Spain have been a place where Christianity, Judaism and Islam thrived side by side. But the demagogues quickly built a firestorm of controversy over that choice, claiming that it was meant to signify the fact that Islam as it spread into Spain in the 1100s conquered that city, and this this signified Islam triumphing over Christians.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@ETpro This is why I hate religion – the obsession and the competition. So what if it triumphed over Christianity? So what?

JLeslie's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir I guess since some people see Park51 was a symbol of conquering the world trade center, like sticking their flag in the ground, then being able to portray Cordoba as the Muslims conquered it further proves to them that Park51 will be seen around the world by Muslims as a landmark of how they distroyed an important landmark and placeof business like the World Trade Center, and killed infidels, people considered to be the enemy in the great city of NY in the US.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@JLeslie Oh, I get all that – I’m just saying it’s stupid.

fundevogel's avatar

@ETpro & @JLeslie Thanks, I’m not going to forget it this time.

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