On August 3rd The New York Times published an article by Michael Barbaro and Javier Hernandez that talked about the controversy surrounding plans to build a mosque near ground zero. While I don’t agree with those who are opposed to the project, I understand why some residents are bothered by the construction of a mosque so close to the site of the former World Trade Center.
In that article, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg was quoted as saying, “we would betray our values if we were to treat Muslims differently than anyone else.”
In my mind, this is the crux of the issue. Will we uphold the principles that America was founded upon, or will we become as hateful and intolerant as the terrorists who destroyed thousands of innocent lives on September 11, 2001?
What I wasn’t prepared for, was a subsequent Times article published on August 7th featuring the picture below, taken at a protest in Temecula, CA, just a 30 minute ride north from where I live. Members of a local Tea Party group had organized the protest of a proposed mosque in this small suburban community.
I could only think, “Are they serious?” The sensitive nature of NYC was one thing, but this was California, and it shocked me to realize that religious discrimination was alive and well, here in my own backyard. The article went on to quote one of the protesters, and her words saddened me further, as they highlighted the fact that religious ignorance is also alive and well in America.
“As a mother and a grandmother, I worry,” Ms. Serafin said. “I learned that in 20 years with the rate of the birth population, we will be overtaken by Islam, and their goal is to get people in Congress and the Supreme Court to see that Shariah is implemented. My children and grandchildren will have to live under that.”
“I do believe everybody has a right to freedom of religion,” she said. “But Islam is not about a religion. It’s a political government, and it’s 100 percent against our Constitution.”
Can we uphold the principle of religious freedom,
or will we perish by the sword of discrimination?