Remember what you were doing when the 9/11 attacks began?
I was in sixth grade. Mrs. Martin hurriedly turned on the TV. I had never been to New York, heard of the Twin Towers, or knew about Muslim extremists. My worldview expanded that day. Me-maw checked me out of school because there were worries that attacks would continue nationwide.
Today is Constitution Day. Across America, citizens are being reminded of our fundamental rights and liberties. Thursday, Judson College's Constitution Day meeting raised student awareness about a hot topic in American politics.
A mosque near Ground Zero
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." Amendment I
More political controversy and strife has come from this amendment than any other.
The First Amendment is used as a stomping ground for dissenting political and religious groups. Take a second to think about every group of like-minded people. Need some help?
•1. Religious Affiliations-Protestant, Islam, Hinduism, Judaism, Buddhism, etc.
•4. Stricter Gun laws/lax gun laws
•5. Eco-friendly groups-wildlife, plant life, etc.
The list could continue forever. Guess what? Every person involved in these groups is protected by the First Amendment.
I did a little homework before writing this blog. The mosque near Ground Zero is actually the building site of the Islamic Cultural Center with a mosque upstairs. Mr. Frazer explained the site as being modeled like a YMCA or a Jewish Community Center. In fact, the planners want "the center to stand as a statement against terrorism."
Interestingly, there is a mosque five blocks from Ground Zero. It was the only building left standing when the Towers fell in Manhattan. The Islamic Center is ten to twelve city blocks away. Another tidbit that turned up was the Pentagon's nondenominational chapel. Worship services are held by various faiths Monday-Friday-including Islam.
Now, let's get real. The Muslims have every right to build.
Amendment I of the Constitution clearly defines that freedom of religion cannot be stifled. As one student put it yesterday, "If we deny Muslims the right to worship, whose next?"
I realize that this topic is a tad controversial.
However, I want to point out that there are some far-out Protestant views as well.
The Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas has stirred up a lot of legal trouble for the past ten years or so. The church is extremely against homosexuality and can tie it to most of America's problems. Led by Fred Phelps, they have been on a cross country mission to share their religious views. The church has protested at abortion clinics, a murdered homosexual's funeral, and military funerals.
Like I said before, every group is protected under the First Amendment. But what this church is doing is definitely insensitive to other US citizens rights.
The right to mourn peacefully should be respected.
At a military funeral, the members of Westboro wave banners that say:
•1. Thank God for dead soldiers
•2. America is doomed
•3. Thank God for 9/11
•4. Thank God for IEDs
Several states have created laws to limit the times of the protests. Nebraska recently lost its court case that threw out additional flag desecration laws. One Marine's father is about to take Westboro to the Supreme Court. The outcome is expected sometime in the next year.
Do you believe the Westboro Baptist Church is protected under the freedom of speech?
What does this have to do with the Mosque near Ground Zero?
Most Americans believe that the Westboro Baptist Church represents all Christians. How is that any different than believing that Muslim extremists represent all Muslims?