Aug 272010

Islamophobia has been on the rise since 2001. The latest cause célèbre of conservative opponents of Islam is the Park 51 Islamic Cultural Center. The extent of this opposition is shown by the intentional mislabeling of this project as the “Ground Zero Mosque” despite the by now well known facts – that it is not at Ground Zero but two blocks away (it is not even visible from Ground Zero) and it is not a mosque, cut a community center with a prayer area. Imagine a hospital with a chapel. Do we call that a church?

I don’t. I go into a hospital quite frequently which has not only a chapel but pictures of Jesus on a little table by the door.

Things have gotten so out of control that it is being suggested by some on the right that great Americans “give up their rights” and that Muslims ought to forfeit their Constitutional guarantee of free exercise and go somewhere else, or that Islam is not really a religion at all but a cult, and is therefore not protected by the Constitution. Qur’an burnings have even been announced; an act of violence by Christians somehow meant to demonstrate “once and for all” that Islam is a violent religion.

What is a Pagan to think about this feeding frenzy of angry monotheists? One possible response would be to say, “Well, it’s between them; it doesn’t concern me.” I am here to argue that such a response would be mistaken. It does concern us. It concerns everyone because it concerns a Constitutional guarantee that is under attack by the dominant culture.

Conservative Christians have constructed a new narrative for America, a Mythic America that was founded by and for Christians, an America in which free exercise applies only to Christians, and in which the wall of separation is a myth. The First Amendment ensures that all Americans can practice their religion of choice – or none at all. When the dominant culture – in this case Christianity – takes it upon itself to decide to whom Constitutional guarantees apply, it is time to worry.

Naturally, anyone who defends Islamic rights is accused at worst of being a terrorist, or of being somebody who is “soft” on terrorism. Islam has become the communism of the new millennium, and we should all be searching under our beds for Islamofascists, one of the wonder new terms the right has gifted us. I have been attacked myself, and just recently, for defending Islamic rights in this country. For it is not just conservative Christians who are up in arms and misinformed, but Pagans too. The hysteria is widespread.

But I am not here to defend Islam. My own views on monotheism are hardly a secret to anyone who has read my pieces over the past few years. But my views on monotheism in general or Islam in particular are hardly applicable to this case, for this case is not about Islam but about the Constitution. And the Constitution says that a Muslim group can build a community center wherever they want. There is nothing illegal about it. They did not steal the land. They made a deal with a developer and they are using the site of an old coat factory in the same way that some Christian-oriented group might.

The only difference is that they are Muslims.

And it was Muslim terrorists who attacked the World Trade Center on 9/11.

The thing is, it wasn’t THESE Muslims. And mis-characterizations of Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, a man with a reputation as a progressive interfaith leader, as an agent of America’s destruction are simply character attacks aimed at creating at atmosphere of fear and resentment. Fear is the coinage of Republican politics and has been since 2001. Fear of minorities, fear of immigrants, fear of non-Christians, fear of feminists, secular humanists, atheists, the LGBT community – and fear of Islam. It is easy to rally people around fear-inspiring causes – Irish immigrants, Germans in WWI, Japanese in WWII, communists in the 50s, Muslims today.

The situation gets very confused – as it’s meant to – fear mongering inspires neither calmness nor rational thought. Fear demands that people respond on a visceral, atavistic level, from the gut, in the same way that George W. Bush ran the country for eight years, from the gut. It is an anti-intellectual stimulant, fear is, and it brooks no argument.

For a Pagan, to get back to my original point, such attacks should resonate on a level invisible to most monotheists, who have a long history of being the persecutors rather than the persecuted. Once upon a time it was the witches who were being sometimes literally fed to the fires of hate. It isn’t all that long ago that being a Pagan was against the law, or that being a Pagan could cost you your job or your home. Rather than jumping up and joining those who would tear down freedom of religion, we ought to be defending those whose rights are under attack. Because next time, it could be us.

Can anyone forget the words of Jerry Falwell or the agreement of Pat Robertson in the aftermath of 9/11 on the 700 Club?:

JERRY FALWELL: And I agree totally with you that the Lord has protected us so wonderfully these 225 years. And since 1812, this is the first time that we’ve been attacked on our soil and by far the worst results. And I fear, as Donald Rumsfeld, the Secretary of Defense, said yesterday, that this is only the beginning. And with biological warfare available to these monsters — the Husseins, the Bin Ladens, the Arafats — what we saw on Tuesday, as terrible as it is, could be miniscule if, in fact — if, in fact — God continues to lift the curtain and allow the enemies of America to give us probably what we deserve.

PAT ROBERTSON: Jerry, that’s my feeling. I think we’ve just seen the antechamber to terror. We haven’t even begun to see what they can do to the major population.

JERRY FALWELL: The ACLU’s got to take a lot of blame for this.


JERRY FALWELL: And, I know that I’ll hear from them for this. But, throwing God out successfully with the help of the federal court system, throwing God out of the public square, out of the schools. The abortionists have got to bear some burden for this because God will not be mocked. And when we destroy 40 million little innocent babies, we make God mad. I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way — all of them who have tried to secularize America — I point the finger in their face and say “you helped this happen.”

PAT ROBERTSON: Well, I totally concur, and the problem is we have adopted that agenda at the highest levels of our government. And so we’re responsible as a free society for what the top people do. And, the top people, of course, is the court system.

Can we so easily forget that it was Pagans Falwell blamed first, and not Islam? Does anyone seriously think that if they succeed in depriving the world’s second largest religion of their Constitutional rights that they will hesitate to do the same to Pagans?

The threat to the Constitution is very real. Conservative Christians, religious zealots known as dominionists, wield a degree of power in this country far out of proportion to their numbers. Study right-wing Christian theocracy; study the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR). Study Sarah Palin and her witch-hunting pastor. People like to scoff, but then, people scoffed at Hitler too.

And look where they ended up.

No, I don’t have to think twice to know where I stand. With religious freedom and with the Constitutional guarantees I was born with, and not just for me, but for everyone.

  102 Responses to “Islamophobia and an American Heathen”

  1. Lots of excellent points, and I agree… an emboldened religious right that has managed to squash the religious rights of the world’s second largest religion would be a nightmare. I wish we could stop seeing Muslims as “them”, the vast majority are peaceable people who just want to live in peace are “us” people who commit or condone hatred, discrimination and acts of violence in the name of religion (any religion) are the real “them.” They are both Muslim and Christian extremists, and they must be opposed vigorously.

  2. Thank you, Mark. I’ve never really understood modern Pagan hostility to Islam in the first place. None of us were alive to be persecuted by them, and our own Talibangelicals are a much more likely (and present) danger to our religious freedoms. Most folks of any religion just want to get along and do their thing, and that’s true of Muslims as it is for everyone else. As you say, it is the real extremists (of all types) who must be opposed, not people who just happen to be different.

    • Pagans have an historical grievance with Islam, in that Mohammed’s early wars were against Arab Pagans. But that has no bearing on current issues.

      • Yes, Mohammed’s early wars were against Arab Pagans but as you say,this has no bearing on current issues. In fact, I argue here that this is not a religious issue at all, but a Constitutional issue, which certain Republicans understand by trying to undermine Islam as a religion, relegating it to cult status and therefore somehow unaffected by the First Amendment.

      • “Pagans have an historical grievance with Islam, in that Mohammed’s early wars were against Arab Pagans. But that has no bearing on current issues.”

        Well,that depends on how one defines the “current issues”.

        If Islam is an inherently intolerant and violent religion, well, that seems very relevant to the “current issues.”

        If Islam was founded by people who waged religious wars to forcibly convert everyone around them, well, that seems very relevant to the “current issues.”

        If Islam has been spread, throughout its history, by coercion backed, when necessary, by violence, then, well, that seems very relevant to “current issues.”

        • We have a historical grievance with the Catholic Church, as well, since they’re the ones who waged the first campaigns against Paganism in the 4th and 5th centuries of the CE. Paganism, in many parts of Europe, was completely wiped out until the modern reconstructionist movement.

          Yet I see very few calls to destroy Christianity outright–merely to get rid of the dominionist faction.

          To say that Islam is inherently violent is like saying that Paganism is inherently vegan. The presence of violent factions within Islam, does not make the religion as a whole violent.

          If you’re going to cite the “kill the infidels” verses in the Quran, bear in mind that the Christian Bible also has verses about stoning disobedient children and people who wear mixed-fiber clothing. (For that matter, look at the more controversial passages in the Frosts’ little book. Do Wiccans, or CoW members, universally condone such acts? I should hope not!) Just because a verse is in a religion’s holy book, does not mean that all, or even most, members of that religion place any particular emphasis on that specific verse.

          • I’ve made the same arguments, “L” – the opposition to Islam seems to blame Islam for the same things Christianity has done without attaching the same blame to Christianity – and the collective guilt issue comes out very strongly is anti-Islam stances as well. A few terrorists who did something even other Muslims condemned makes all of them guilty, but the same rule does not apply to Christians, for some reason, no matter how many people Christians kill.

            • If terrorism is only caused by a very few Muslims, and the rest of the Muslims find this completely unacceptable, why don’t they hand of Osama bin Laden? Why is support for the Taliban increasing in Afghanistan?

              The fact is that the extremists in Islam have been very effective in the battle for hearts and minds. “Moderates” like Imam Rauf are cowards who refuse to stand up to the extremists — he won’t even condemn them by name because he is a “bridge builder”. Instead he whines about how discriminated he is in the US. If he really is a reformer, then he would be in prison in any predominantly Muslim country.

              • For the same reasons conservative Christians didn’t hand over Eric Rudolph. When someone is in hiding, s/he is hiding from pretty much everyone.

                • “[B]in Laden and his followers are not an isolated cult like Aum Shinrikyo or the Branch Davidians or demented loners like Timothy McVeigh and the Unabomber. They come out of a culture that reinforces their hostility, distrust and hatred of the West–and of America in particular. This culture does not condone terrorism but fuels the fanaticism that is at its heart. To say that Al Qaeda is a fringe group may be reassuring, but it is false. Read the Arab press in the aftermath of the attacks and you will detect a not-so-hidden admiration for bin Laden. Or consider this from the Pakistani newspaper The Nation: “September 11 was not mindless terrorism for terrorism’s sake. It was reaction and revenge, even retribution.” Why else is America’s response to the terror attacks so deeply constrained by fears of an “Islamic backlash” on the streets? Pakistan will dare not allow Washington the use of its bases. Saudi Arabia trembles at the thought of having to help us publicly. Egypt pleads that our strikes be as limited as possible. The problem is not that Osama bin Laden believes that this is a religious war against America. It’s that millions of people across the Islamic world seem to agree.”
                  Fareed Zakaria, “The Politics of Rage: Why Do They Hate Us?”

                  • You asked why moderate Moslems don’t hand over Osama bin Laden. When I gave you the reason, you changed the subject to the place of al Qa’ida in the Moslem constellation. You also answered with an excerpt rather than your own words. Both are beneath your usual standard of discourse.

                    • Apuleius, you are bringing up the collective guilt of all Muslims because “they” don’t hand over Osama bin Laden? Are you seriously saying this? With all due respect, the war is within Islam itself, a small group against Islam, and the US put itself squarely in the middle of it. If you are angry about somebody not handing over bin Laden, be angry with Bush, whose family is friends with the bin Laden family. If more and more people in Islamic countries hate us, you don’t think our own idiot actions for the past 8 years had anything to do with that?

              • You are not providing a complete account of what is happening in Afghanistan. I heard the same quotation on Rachel Maddow in context. Most of the problem exists because there is not enough legitimate legal infrastructure for the courts to work. (I heard something about less than 100 qualified judges or lawyers or something for the ENTIRE COUNTRY.) The Taliban’s system of justice delivers results much more quickly.

                When people get really angry, they don’t think, “Hey, I’ll wait five years to resolve this dispute in court.” They’re most likely thinking, “Burn, b—-, burn!” It’s the legal equivalent of road rage.

                Essentially, the people in charge of fixing Afghanistan have not read or paid attention to theory about unfreezing-change-refreezing organizational change processes. They really need to work harder to add incentives to the new system so people will see a benefit to NOT resolving things through the Taliban.

        • One might say the exact same things about Christians, though. And even if mainstream Christians are currently in the USA not behaving in violent fashion, many more radical (not even necessarily fringe) Christians are like a keg of gunpowder just waiting for the match.

          Have you looked at witch-killings in Africa promoted by Christians there who are trained or led by American Christians? Have you heard of the laws proposed in Uganda against homosexuals, laws that would put them to death, laws that are a hair’s breadth from going into effect, laws created by a Christian trained in America? Do you really think the ocean is so wide that such things can’t happen here?

          I’ve listened to the rhetoric spewed by many American Christians, politicians, even, that pagans aren’t real Americans, that pagan religions aren’t real religions, and that we don’t *really* have the same rights under the Constitution. We’re not like them, we’re perverted, we’re the cause of things that go wrong in America.

          All that protects us is the Constitution. That venerable, fragile document is all that stands between us and tyranny, and violence, and loss of our freedom. We cannot afford to weaken it by allowing *any* other religious group’s rights to be taken away. And just as we should not paint all Christians with the same brush, nor should we paint all Muslims with one. Islam, though it is less familiar to us than Christianity, is no more or less inherently violent than Christianity. One need only look at the history of mission schools in the USA to know how recently violence in the name of religion, in the name of *Christianity*, was condoned to civilize the heathen, the pagan. We’re talking 1900s here, we’re talking less than a century. Yet I don’t see people asking that Constitutional rights be stripped from Christians.

          This conflict is really a continuation of a centuries-old, no, millennium-old conflict between Christians and Muslims. We as pagans and heathens don’t need to get caught up in the middle of it. What we need to do is protect ourselves. And that means protecting the Constitution, and that means protecting people’s rights under the Constitution, and that means Christians and Muslims, as well as Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, and all the rest of us. We must trust our civil laws to protect us from religious harm, and speak out when they do not. We must be defenders of our faiths, of our way of life, of our shield and hauberk– the Constitution, the Bill of Rights. Let the laws and the system be our spear and our sword. Let truth be our arrows. Let us stand as one with all good-hearted people of all faiths, and let that unity of purpose: protecting the freedoms we all hold dear, stand as a shield-wall against those who would see us dead. And that means standing with Christians and Muslims defending the rights of Christians and Muslims. As many stood with those who fought to gain a pagan headstone, so we now must stand with them.

          • Exactly, Pam! We must protect the Constitution; it all comes down to the Constitution. We either have First Amendment rights or we don’t. The Constitution says we do and it doesn’t allow for taking those rights away or denying them because one group or another believes the other is a cult and not a real religion.

          • Well said, Pam!

        • Apuleius, when I was a young politician-wannabe I wasn’t very successful because I ignored a key piece of advice: “Pick your enemies carefully.” If Islam were actively throwing its weight around against religious minorities in America, I might be on the other side of the Park 51 issue. But they are not, and I’m not.

          • “If Islam were actively throwing its weight around against religious minorities in America, I might be on the other side of the Park 51 issue. But they are not, and I’m not.”

            Muslims in American don’t have much weight to throw around. But there are 1.5 billion Muslims in the world, so we don’t really have to guess how they, as a group, come down on such things as anti-Semitism, homophobia and misogyny.

            Imam Rauf’s father wouldn’t even let his wife drive a car — this was in New York City and Washington DC, not Riyadh.

            Speaking of Rauf’s father, he helped to found the 96th Steet Mosque, aka Islamic Cultural Center of New York. After 9/11, the Imam of that mosque blamed “the Jews” for the attacks, and suggested that Americans should do “what Hitler did.”

            The thing about waiting for it to happen here is that by the time it is happening it is already too late.

            • You are making my teeth crawl. Would you listen to yourself, citing the backwardness of the father of a principal as a point of discourse? My grandfather didn’t let my grandmother drive a car; does that make me unfit to build a Pagan temple near an historically sensitive site?

              I’ve defended you against unfair criticism on Wild Hunt based on the body of your postings. I would probably do so again under like circumstances, but you’re not making it any easier.

              • Rauf’s father’s Islamic missionary work in the US during the 60′s and 70′s was done on the payroll of the Egyptian government, which is not insignificant considering the fact that one of the unanswered questions is where does the Cordoba Initiative plan to get $100M, and what kinds of strings will be attached???

                Imam Rauf’s old man also had close and warm ties with the Malaysian government of Mahathir Mohamad, under which the elder Rauf was appointed the first Rector of the International Islamic University in 1983, was “knighted” in the same year, and was awarded the “Hegira Prize” in 1994. Mahathir Mohamad is a 9/11 truther of the viciously anti-Semitic variety, btw. Malaysia is the location of the other major HQ of the Cordoba Initiative (other than NYC), and it is where the Cordoba Initiative launched it’s international “Sharia Project” in 2004.

                • Imam Rauf is a man known for his progressive form of Islam and his interfaith work. He is not his father.

                  So it is a crime to be anti-Semitic but not anti-Islamic?

                  • I myself am rather confused about how it seems fine to paint all Muslims as belonging to a hateful, violent religion and saying that these are just valid questions, and yet, if people were to do the same to us, calling us all freaks and Satanists, these same people would likely be all up in arms. Why is it fine just because these people are Muslim?

            • Apuleius, I feel compelled to comment on your other point, about the attitude of Mulims outside the US. It’s at least on topic, since I did specify the actions of Muslims in the US in the remark to which you replied.

              First, it makes no sense to hold American Jews accountable for the theocratic attributes of Israel. Anyone on this blog would call that in an instant as holding a group responsible for the actions of some members of the group. How is it then otherwise to hold Muslims in the US responsible for actions of Muslims elsewhere?

              Second, Pagans behaved abominably toward Christians during the Late Roman Empire. Does it make sense to take modern Pagans to task for it? Be careful how you answer; you are the guy who claims a continuity between ancient and modern Paganisms even if modern Pagans don’t appreciate it. Group blame is available for all groups.

            • When I was stationed in Albany, NY (COTP) I advised the command that if at all possible, I would refuse to drive into New York City. Thankfully I didn’t have to at any point.

              And I’ve never head anything good about the D.C. traffic.

  3. As you say, it is the real extremists (of all types) who must be opposed, not people who just happen to be different.

    Well said, Hrafnkell. If that mentality was perpetuated then we Pagans would be opposed for being/thinking/worshiping different.

    (Glad you’re feeling much better. Welcome back!)

  4. “It isn’t all that long ago that being a Pagan [...] could cost you your job [...].”

    It still can. My wife is in a sensitive profession that depends on clients in a small town. Knowledge that she is Pagan could dry up her trade. Thus we are in the closet publicly.

    Pagans should be standing with the Moslems who want to build Park 51. If mob rule drives them from a freely chosen, legal location, our rights are that much less secure.

    • I’m openly a Pagan where I live and was told by my mail carrier that I became infamous after a column in the local paper, and I received hate mail as a result of letters to the editor, so I don’t go by my birth name online and I have largely curtailed my letters to the editor. So even I show caution. I am not surprised that things are worse in a small town and I should have considered that in making that comment.

      • Maybe it is where I am from and have lived most my life (northern New England), but I just don’t get how it is anyone else’s business who or what I believe in.

        • I don’t get how it’s anyone else’s business either, Eran. I don’t care what people believe as long as they leave me alone, which sometimes apparently is asking too much!

          • It’s a part of each town’s “Status Ladder” by which the various citizens are judged. Which of the town churches you belong to defines which social status groups you are above, and which you are below locally. Being a dominator culture, they need a lot of different indicators to tell who they need to pay attention to, and whom they can safely ignore or diss.

            And if you’re not a member of one of their churches, then you’re so far down the status ladder that even the lowliest of the dominated Christianists can look down his nose at you.

            • They’re certainly in people’s faces where I live. You move here and you get bombarded with questions about which church you go to, if you need a church, etc. It’s all one massive recruitment drive. A fellow who moved here from Colorado Springs said it’s as bad as it was there.

        • This, precisely. If someone asks me for my religion, I’m not going to lie to them, but I can’t think of any good reasons to bring up your religion otherwise. It’s not as if we (ick!) proselytize.

          • It would so totally work, though. I could go from frat house to frat house with a drinking horn and a few bottles of mead and get hundreds of people praising Thor and Odin at the end of the day. Way to ruin my fun, L. :-D

            • And the next morning, all of them going, “Oh gods!” as the mead hits them the second time around… :P

              • Eran, Eran, Eran. It doesn’t hit you a second time around if you drak it right in the first place. >:)

                • You said ‘frat boys’ – I wasn’t expecting them to be able to distinguish between ‘proper libation’ and ‘get fall-down, pass-out drunk.’ :D

                  And the home-made stuff is ALWAYS better (made a Ukrainian caraway mead last year, drank it last week, holy moley…)

        • Eran, it isn’t anyone else’s business who or what you believe in. But if everyone minded their own business vis-a-vis religion, we wouldn’t need the Free Exercise clause in the First Amendment.

  5. Thank you for this post. It simply cannot be said often or loudly enough:

    Freedom of religion means ALL religions; not just ‘yours’….whatever that is in any given circumstance.

    • Thank you, Labrys. I think it’s a rather simple issue myself! Very clear-cut.

    • And if it DOES NOT INCLUDE freedom FROM religion, then it isn’t any kind of freedom at all.

      • Only the conservative Christians insist it doesn’t offer freedom FROM religion. It obviously does, because if government can’t proclaim or support a state religion, then people are just as free to not believe as to believe. Article 6 Section 3 ensures the same by stating that no religious test is necessary for holding office. President Bush Sr was clearly out of line to suggest that atheists aren’t really citizens. He was unsupported by the Constitution but the Bush family seems to have a big problem wtih the Constitution so go figure…

        • Not to mention that if you are free to practice your religion, that automatically implies freedom FROM all the religions you don’t practice! But for some reason, the RR never seems to grasp that point.

          • The RR thinks the First Amendment only applies to them. They’ve made that pretty clear, I think. But then they believe in an America that never existed (as, admittedly, do some liberals).

  6. “Islamophobia has been on the rise since 2001.”

    Actually, the evidence (in terms of reported “hate crimes” against Muslims) shows that anti-Muslim sentiment peaked in 2001 and 2002 and has decreased significantly since then. That is about what one would expect.

    In the United States, Muslims enjoy infinitely more freedom to practice their religion as they choose than they do in any predominantly Muslim country.

    • I don’t know that the news would comfort the taxi driver who was stabbed for being a Muslim.

      You may be right, Apuleius, but the figures I found show that according to FBI Crime statistics, hate crime incidents against Muslims, which was at an all-time-high right after the Sept. 11 attacks, at nearly 500, dropped to 105 in 2008, the latest year data was released. So near as I can tell we don’t know for 2009 or 2010 and the year isn’t up and the anti-Muslim rhetoric is getting worse.

      It seems to me the best we can say is that there is no evidence that they are on the rise. Despite the hateful rhetoric, I wouldn’t expect them to be as high as 2001, no. That doesn’t mean they haven’t gone up since 2008 or that they’re not going up as we speak.

      I did read that Mosques all over the country are being targeted with vandalism and protests. Some have asked for protection from the authorities because of threats.

      I can’t remember the last Bible burning but they’re all set to burn some Qur’ans.

      Signs left at the Madera mosque read: “Wake up America, the Enemy is here. ANB” and “American Nationalist Brotherhood.”

      “ThinkProgress has previously noted that there has been a spate of hate crimes against mosques in America. For instance, a mosque in South Arlington, Texas, was vandalized earlier this month. “The vandals also cut a pipe, allegedly thinking that it was a natural gas line.” Also, the Al-Farooq Islamic Center in Nashville, Tennessee was vandalized with anti-Muslim graffiti. And in a Jacksonville mosque this year, a pipe bomb was set off and a “tissue stuffed inside with white powder” was sent in the mail to one of the community’s local religious leaders.”

      Source: Blue Wave News

    • Apuleius, hate crimes are a lagging indicator of animus because it takes so much time to compile the stats. Hate speech (NOT a crime under the First Amendment) is a leading indicator because our sensationalistic press will gleefully headline it. So claiming absence of animus because of absence of (evident) hate crimes is inept selection of evidence. Hate speech against Muslims is on the rise, as indicated by other posters here.

  7. There is far more anti-Semitic violence in the US than there is anti-Muslim violence. That does not in any way diminish the suffering of anyone who is a victim of even one hate-crime, but it does put things in a certain, grim, perspective.

    • No, I agree, it doesn’t. Anti-Latino hate crimes are on the rise too according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks such things. A lot of right-wing rhetoric there too.

  8. If I may ask, when did it become hysteria to question a persons motives? When did it become fear-mongering for a Pagan to question the motives of a monotheistic religion with a history of killing Pagans as it is moving into one of the few nations where Pagans may openly worship their gods? When did it become bigotry to disagree with an action you consider to be questionable?

    The fact is, it isn’t a question of the Right of Freedom of Religion until the Government steps in. As long as it is between individuals and no laws are being passed, it falls under Right of Free Speech. To paint those with a different opinion than yours with a brush and claiming they are nothing more Religious Zealots bent of fear mongering and hysteria, that have no ability to think for themselves simply because they feel that there should at least be questions asked, if not actions taken, regarding Islam and this “Community Center” both hinders open discussion and does as much to retard freedom of Religion as you claim they are doing to the Muslims.

    No one here denies the threat of Christianity. But when did it become law that if you were a sane Pagan, you couldn’t question Islam? What about the freedom to Question a religion that promotes homophobia, misogyny, and murder of non-believers in everyday practice? Why is it hysteria to ask this? How is it fear mongering?

    You stated above that people dismissed Hitler and look where they ended up. Fine, that is true and it is good to look at what happened an learn. But tell me, who is the Hitler here? The “Republicans”? Might I remind you that it was Democrats in power when the Japanese were interned in WWII? How about the fact that it was Democrats in power during WWI? It was the Democrats who were responsible for the Jim Crow Laws, and were the party of slavery in the Civil War? I’m not a Republican. In fact, I rather dislike them, but let us be honest and admit that the Democrats are just as bad, and many Democrats are opposing this “Community Center” as well. You seem greatly disinterested in questioning their bigotry and hate mongering.

    So fine, for the sake of argument, lets say Muslims are Kosher or Halal. Lets say everything about this Community Center is all rainbows and kittens. Even then, I fail to see the harm in asking questions and giving opinions. I haven’t seen a single post from any Pagan who has questioned this Community Center advocating we take up axe and sword and go kill Muslims. Heck, I haven’t even seen that with the Christian or Secular protesters.

    You talked about Christians having disproportional power, then tell me how about the power ratings of just under a couple dozen Islamic extremists who killed 3000+ people in just a few hours?

    The Fact is that Muslims already have more rights in America than any other religion. Entire schools have changed their menus, as well as school activities and curriculum to meet Muslim standards (something not even the Jews have gotten). I fail to see how protesting and questioning this Community Center is really going to hurt them.

    I certainly don’t see how silencing the questions helps us Pagans.

    • Norse Alchemist. I’ve been waiting for your response. We’ve already been through all this on A Heathen’s Day, where you came down on my assigning nithing status to Tennessee’s Lt. Gov. for saying Islam has no constitutional rights.

      There you misinterepreted my words and put other words into my mouth. You hvae done so here once more. Your opening paragraph bears no resemblance to my article:

      “If I may ask, when did it become hysteria to question a persons motives? When did it become fear-mongering for a Pagan to question the motives of a monotheistic religion with a history of killing Pagans as it is moving into one of the few nations where Pagans may openly worship their gods? When did it become bigotry to disagree with an action you consider to be questionable?”

      I explained this to you before, and I will say it again here: it is a question of Constitutional rights. However much you may personally object to Islam, and you have made it quite clear that for you it amounts to a phobia, they have a Constitutional rights to build the Park 51 Islamic Cultural Center. It’s not my right to stop it, nor yours, nor the government’s, because the Constitution assures them of that right.

      You can object, you can complain, you can protest and write letters, but it’s not for you to say who gets to build a cultural center and who does not.

      You wrongly blame an entire religion for what a few extremists did. The next time a Christian or Jew or somebody of ANY other religion walks into a church or a restaurant or store and starts killing people, remember to blame the entire religion and deny them there right to have a building anywhere in the area down the road.

      “I fail to see how protesting and questioning this Community Center is really going to hurt them.”

      You don’t get it, do you? You’re protesting the Constitution. You don’t see a problem with attacking the document that ensures us of our freedoms and our rights?

      I’m not having this discussion with you here as well as at a Heathen’s Day, Alchemist. Suffice it to say this is my answer to you and you will have to be satisfied with it.

    • Alchemist, no one is contesting the right of opponents of the Park 51 mosque to oppose it. As a First Amendment absolutist I even support the right of such opponent to indulge in hate speech in the process.

      What such opponents do not have is a right to make their comments free of criticism. The latter is also protected by the First Amendment. The “Sacred Ground” argument against Park 51 applies only to Muslim places of worship, and that reeks of bigotry. I will exercise my First Amendment rights by pointing to that loudly and clearly.

    • A Dominionist preacher is building a church near Ground Zero. Where is your outrage over that?

      Or is it OK because he’s white and English-speaking?

  9. This article reminds me of a quote attributed to a Christian minister during the Holocaust:

    “First they came for the Communists, and I didn’t speak up, because I wasn’t a Communist.

    “Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up, because I wasn’t a Jew.

    “Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn’t speak up, because I was a Protestant.

    “Then they came for me, and by that time, there was no one left to speak up.”

    • The L, I made the same connection in a post I wrote on my own blog.

      • “First they came for the Communists, and I didn’t speak up, because I wasn’t a Communist.

        “Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up, because I wasn’t a Jew.

        “Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn’t speak up, because I was a Protestant.

        “Then they came for me, and by that time, there was no one left to speak up.”

        “Because first, no one dared stop the Nazis, and laughed at fears that they would wipe out everyone else.”

        When calling your opponents Nazis, be sure to know who the real Nazis are. Of interesting historical note, guess who the leaders of Islam allied themselves with in WWII. Answer: The Nazis.

        • So did the Italians, who were Catholics. So did the Japanese, who were a variety of faiths, all non-”Judeo-Christian”. Your point?

          • Yeah, seriously, and America and Britain refused to do anything to help the Jews when they had the opportunity. Himmler tried to trade Jews to us during the war and we declined. Before the war we turned away a ship load of Jews trying to escape Germany…You can’t appeal to history, Alchemist, and ignore all the parts that aren’t relevant to your argument.

        • Alchemist, that quotation from Dietrich Bonhoffer does not imply that one’s opponents are like the Nazis. It’s a meditation — near death, in Bonhoffer’s case — on the perils of silence in the face of evil.

          Why is that apropos? Because mob action against the exercise of First Amendment rights is evil. And such mob action will have succeeded if the Park 51 mosque is given up.

          In fact the mob in this case is rather diffuse, relatively unorganized and not yet in the realm of personal violence. Nowhere near the Nazis; no burning crosses, no torchlit parades, no Chrystallnacht. But it is animated by a soft-core bigotry, and failure to point that out as often as necessary would be a retreat in the face of evil, of exactly the sort that the “First they came for…” quote references.

        • As a first-generation Italian-American whose grandfather was financially ruined by the war (his farm was utterly destroyed, requiring him to leave the country to find a new income source), I am offended by your accusations of Godwin’s Law.

          I know intolerance when I see it, and the majority of the hate going on in the current situation is from small fringe groups within the religions of Christianity and Islam. The majority of Christians and Muslims are not to blame for extremist violence, any more than German people today are to blame for the atrocities seventy years ago.

          • I have been accused of Godwin’s Law in my writings on the Religious Right and the Tea Party. But I call it like I see it. It’s ironic that the term come to denote appealing to Hitler and Nazism in comparisons is now appealed to at the same drop of a hat, as though if you cry “Godwin’s Law!” the arguments become meaningless. They don’t. Godwin’s Law does not make facts magically go away.

            The L, you are exactly right: “The majority of Christians and Muslims are not to blame for extremist violence, any more than German people today are to blame for the atrocities seventy years ago.”

            And you cannot hold one group (Islam) accountable as a whole for what a few did without holding the others (Christianity and Judaism, for example) accountable for what a few of them have done. Or Americans either, if you want to take another group. What I see is a mindless, unreasoning fear of another group, and I say mindless and unreasoning not to insult the people doing the talking but because the logic chain does not add up.

          • L, if that’s directed at me (I did bring up Italians), I just wanted to be clear that I’m not attacking Italians, or blaming them, or calling them Nazis, or thinking that modern Italians or even a majority of them back during and pre-WWII are responsible for Italy’s alliance with the Nazis. I’m second generation German and third generation Hungarian and heard stories growing up of how my mom, my aunts and uncles, born in the 30s and 40s, learned to be ashamed for being German. Even when I was born, in 68, and growing up, there was a certain shame to it.

            I was just pointing out the absurdity of associating a specific religion with affiliation with the Nazis.

            As a side note, Indonesia, holds the largest population of Muslims in the world, over 15% of the world’s population. 50 countries have a Muslim majority. I don’t see us being attacked by Indonesian terrorists, by people from 50 different countries. Our problem seems to be specifically Muslims of Arab descent and those in Afghanistan. Are we going to blame all people of Arabic or Afghani descent now?

            In all honesty, if you look at the history, the terrorism has a lot more to do with international politics than it does with Islam. Islam is just one tool the leaders of the terrorists get to convince terrorists that they’re doing the right thing. It’s easier to kill women and children and innocents if you don’t think they’re innocent, if you think they’re evil and demonic. If Islam didn’t work, they’d choose something else.

            • “Islam is just one tool the leaders of the terrorists get to convince terrorists that they’re doing the right thing. It’s easier to kill women and children and innocents if you don’t think they’re innocent, if you think they’re evil and demonic. If Islam didn’t work, they’d choose something else.”

              QFT! Religion, heritage pride, and patriotism have all been appropriated for manipulation by power gluttons, and been left holding the check for it.

            • My reply was directed to Norse Alchemist, not you. :)

        • “Of interesting historical note, guess who the leaders of Islam allied themselves with in WWII. Answer: The Nazis.”

          I trust that you have proof of this, and will be happy to provide it.

          If you tell me to go look it up myself, that will only prove to me and all others that you made it up out of whole cloth.

          • At any rate it is a specious argument. Some Irish nationalists and Indian nationalists were willing to see Germany as an ally (against Britain) at the time, based on the logic of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”.

            The same thinking led many Native Americans to side with the French in the so-called “French and Indian Wars”, and then to side with the British in the War of 1812.

            For that matter, the United States and Great Britain made an alliance with a totalitarian regime comparable to the Third Reich in terms of evil-ness — the USSR.

            • Similarly, Finland allied with Germany because the Soviet Union was looking to reclaim Finland (which had declared independence from Russia in 1917), not out of any agreement with Nazi ideology (Finland actually refused to hand over any of their Jewish population to Germany).

  10. I can respect anyone’s right to voice an opinion, but I don’t have to respect the inconsistencies I’m hearing, and it blows my mind that I’m hearing them from other Pagans.

    1) “A mosque close to the site of a 9/11 attack is wrong”

    - There’s a mosque at the Pentagon, which was also attacked, but nobody cares about that one. There have also already been mosques in the neighborhood for several years, but they’re small mosques, not a 13 story community center with a pool, concert auditorium, and day care center. So those mosques don’t bother anyone, but something that isn’t just a mosque does.

    2) “A Muslim presence at Ground Zero is offensive to the people who died in the attack and their families”

    - Already touched on this in comments to Peter Dybing’s guest column. It kinda leaves out the Muslims who also died in the attack, some of whom were EMT, police, fire, and other service personnel who were there to try to save people.

    3) “The area around Ground Zero is hallowed and sacred, and nothing that belittles that should be allowed there”

    - I’ll ask the same question several people who live in the neighborhood are asking: Where is the holiness demarcation line? Two Blocks? Four? Eleventeen? The building currently on the site has been described as an eyesore that brings down property values for the rest of the neighborhood. An eyesore doesn’t seem so respectful to me.

    4) “A Muslim presence is a threat to national security”

    - If they’re going to go there, they’re going to have to look at tossing out several million people, many of whom, like my friends Ilham or Nuirani, were born here or whose families came here because they loathe the extremism and insanity that has taken over their home countries. Some of those people have been targeted for execution for doing so. Seems tacky to call someone who prefers to have a death sentence on their heads rather than bow to an extremist faction an extremist.

    5) “Islam isn’t a religion, it’s a cult, therefore the First Amendment doesn’t apply to Muslims”

    - I’m even hearing this one from Pagans who are members of groups that have been labeled cults by Christians.

    • Thanks for chiming in Snooezpossum. I agree with every point you raised and I’m as dumbfounded as you are, as you have probably figured out. I’d point out all the strip clubs in the Ground Zero area too – apparently those are okie dokie. It’s only Islam that offends the WTC gods.

    • Snooze, I welcome your comments. (This thread here and on Wild Hunt embarass me as a Pagan.) Let me add something to your litany, if I may.

      Some organizations were formed shortly after 9/11 to look after the interests of the suvivors of victims. So far *none* of them have weighed into this controversy. Individual survivors, yes; institution, no. I tentatively conclude that there is NO sweeping sentiment against Park 51 among survivors, and that their grief is being used as a political football.

      • Especially by Glenn Beck, who says the survivors are whiners.

        • But when has Glenn Beck ever been polite and respectful in front of an audience? :P

          • For that matter, when has Beck ever been polite and respectful? A buddy of mine with a High Times subscription said it really well:

            “That’s dude’s mellow is permanently harshed.”

          • I’ve never understood how that nutjob has continued to escape from those nice young men in the white jackets, with the oversized butterfly net.

            • I hate to make jokes about blindness or about somebody who is becoming blind (assuming that’s true) but his condition must be worse than advertised if he thought more than 100K showed up for his self-indulgence day rally in D.C.

      • I put Ted Olson’s video comments on my blog for a Beer & Cookies award; he lost his wife in the attacks, but is being a class act about the whole thing and coming out in support of across-the-board religious freedom.

    • Good grief….thank you for pointing out the idiocy, Snooze. It saddens me that a lot of sound-bite nationalism parades around as righteous indignation these days. I have a son in Afghanistan as I type and I still say freedom of religion does NOT mean “only the ones we aren’t mad at THIS week.”

      • May your son come home sooner than later, without a scratch or dent. I don’t wanna think about what the military would be like without reasonable, thinking service people who aren’t Phobic Phruitcakes or Manifest Destiny Thugs.

        (throws good luck)

    • Islam isn’t a “cult”, it is an ideology, in many ways. The problem is twofold: they have no separation of church & state and the fanatics HAVE hijacked the religion. You’re a foolish ideologist or, if you prefer, naive if you believe otherwise.

      Freedom of Religion does not mean freedom to treat others any way one wishes…and until muslims stand up in outrage against places like iran and other muslim countries filled with atrocities, daily, towards women, children and non-muslims, the West will continue to, rightfully, question their honest dedication to the values of democracy.

      • In other words, Caroline, Christians in this country who refuse to speak out against the anti-Constitutional attacks of the religious right, and the proponents of theocracy, Dominionism and Christian fundamentalism, should be questioned on their own dedication to the values of democracy.

        I have already argued that I am in agreement with Gerd Lüdemann, who makes this same point, that Christianity is ad odds with the values of modern liberal democracy. I do not disagree that the values of Judaism and Islam are as well. That being said, the Constitution still guarantees them the rights of their beliefs as long as they do not violate the Constitution.

        Christians in this country are doing so on a daily basis. Follow Americans United for Separation of Church and State, or the Military Religious Freedom Foundation if you doubt me. I don’t know of any Muslim groups in this country doing the same. Are there any graduations being held in Mosques? If so, I haven’t heard of them. Are Qur’an’s being handed out in public schools? If so, I haven’t heard of it. Are Sharia Laws being posted on courthouse lawns? If so, I haven’t heard of it.

    • “There’s a mosque at the Pentagon.”

      There is no mosque at the Pentagon. There is a nondenominational chapel that can be used by anyone of any faith.

      All you have to do is a google search on “mosque pentagon”.

      So much for consistency.

  11. Christianity and Islam both leave a bad taste in my mouth. Both believe polytheism is a sin, so they have taken issue with us, not the other way around (although some of their beliefs are rather silly). As much as their presences within our communities may make us anxious, we have no say about what they do within their houses of worship or where they decide to put these things. Whether it’s the Muslims converting a building into a mosque/community building or the Roman Catholic Church throwing up some sprawling downtown center does not matter — they both have the right to do this.

    That said, their presence here doesn’t mean we cannot hold the religions (or sects) accountable. The Catholic Church today (and Eastern Orthodoxy) are mostly accountable for the genocide of the traditional religionists of Europe, and they have not apologized as a group for this. Various sects of Islam have committed similar crimes against humanity over the centuries. Our movements need to develop the collective strength and integrity to make them at least offer us a grudging respect, even though some members may want to kill us or force a conversion of some sort. We should concentrate on that rather than all of this bickering about the applicability of constitutional rights to Islam.

    If I had to choose one religion for the OMGs SCARY factor, though, the documentaries I watch about Christianity are far more frightening than the news about Islam, especially the ones about children’s indoctrination, because this stuff happens on our own soil and these people will someday have the right to vote. They will begin contributing to policy decisions using information gleaned from heavily biased, propaganda-infused spiritual sources. Islam is at least less hostile to evolution and scientific discoveries as a whole.

    • Kaye, I’ve made the same arguments. One is right on our doorstep. And the indoctrination of children is truly frightening. It’s like watching (and here comes Godwin’s Law again) films of Nazi youth rallies. And now Pentecostal Michelle Bachmann’s camp is bragging on her assault rifle prowess…the message seems to be you’re fit for public office if you are a Christian and you’re good at shooting things. You can easily imagine what FOX would say if it turned out Imam Rauf had ever even touched an assault rifle, let alone was skilled in its use…

      • Yes, exactly, and I know where you stand on a lot of these issues … it’s just that the discussion on this post thus far indicates that some see so many threats that they have failed to focus on the one that is particularly relevant to most of us.

      • That’s not a Godwin, Hrafknell. That’s the gods-honest truth. They are being taught that a certain religious and political ideology is right and just, and that people who do not subscribe to the same opinions are foolish, unjust, and unworthy of basic rights and freedoms. Every “Army Of God”-type day camp is a powder keg waiting to ignite, and I shudder to think what will happen when these kids are old enough to vote and buy firearms. Especially if they join the military!

    • Hey! It was the Catholic Church which originally built and owned the Watergate in Washington, D.C. The various bishops across the country own huge amounts of real estate. And they avoid things like property tax on undeveloped land by burying one coffin on the lot and calling the whole thing a Catholic Cemetery until it’s time to sell or develop. Just one of the methods I’ve read is popular with bishops.

  12. I think we make a huge mistake in attributing baneful words and actions to an amorphous entity like “Islam”, “Muslims”, “Christians”, Christianity”, “monotheists” and the like. It implies we are shifting the responsibility for those words and actions from the individuals to something which cannot be held accountable.

    Each of us, every day, with every word or action, contributes to the climate of opinion, for good or for ill. The fact is that some individuals are using a presumed authority of some amorphous entity to do direct harm and also, in effect, baneful magic, in the interest of their own gain. Even those who are swayed by the magic into joining in and amplifying the effect are doing so out of their own fears and in the interest of their own gain at the expense of the rest of us.

    This is not religion in action; this is blatant self-interest. Let those of us who post here not succumb to its lure. Let us speak Truth and haul these words and actions into the light for all to see. Who gains by using the techniques that worked for Hitler and others to raise a mob mentality? Those who do so and call themselves Christians are not doing so out of the teachings of Jesus. Those who do so and call themselves Muslims are not doing so out of the teachings of Allah through Mohammed. Those who do so in the name of Paganism have only hot air behind them. Religion used as a weapon is baneful magic, preying on people by using the symbology that invokes their minimally-conscious fears and hopes.

    We know better.

  13. For those who wish to pursue war for either pleasure or profit, the deliberate dehumanizing of an “opposing” group is a necessary first step before ordering their destruction at all costs, to save the “our side” ignorant of the truth, from some fanciful or imaginary threat.

    For those who find they must defend against another group who forces a war on them, the attackers have already made of themselves evil invading monsters.

  14. Well, the Christianist right has begun the violence segment of this bigotry.

    Arson Suspected At Construction Site Of Tennessee Mosque Expansion

    = = = = = (lead paragraph) = = = = =
    For months, conservatives have led a hateful campaign against the expansion of a local Islamic center in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. This campaign has been endorsed by high-ranking Republicans such as the state’s Lt. Governor, Ron Ramsey, who last month, speaking to a group of Republicans in opposition to the mosque, wondered aloud whether Islam was a religion or a “cult” and fearmongered about the mosque trying to bring “Sharia law” to America. Earlier this year, Lou Ann Zelenik, a GOP congressional candidate in Tennessee, campaigned against the Murfreesboro mosque, arguing that it posed a threat to that state’s “moral and political foundation.”

    And their hypocrisy has no known bounds to this day.

    Bigot starts ground zero church: Where’s the outrage?

    A bigoted pastor who has assailed gays and Muslims is launching the “9-11 Christian Center at Ground Zero” a mere two blocks from the World Trade Center site this Sunday, but so far the project hasn’t drawn a peep of protest from those who are outraged by the “ground zero mosque.”

    • So the way to remember our dead, the victims of this outrageous attack, is to celebrate bigotry and intolerance? That seems to be the message here from the Bigot Center at Ground Zero. Very sad, very very sad.

    • Yep, that’s real patriotism and courage and WWJD right there, buddy. It takes a real hero to step up and trash a kid’s playground. And simply EVERYbody knows that verse from the Beatitudes: “Blessed are they who set fire to heavy equipment; for theirs is the smell of burnt rubber”.

      If those idiots had set the woods on fire, wonder how long it’d take for some Soundbyte Spin Specialist to suggest it was a burning bush . . .

      • Well, with geese omens and auguries and all, probably not long. I liked the scene in Ridley Scott’s Kingdom of Heaven (the uncut version) where Balian sets fire to a creosote bush by throwing a rock at it and exclaims, “There’s your burning bush!” You can hear the cries of “miracle!” from here.

    • Notice how eager some of you are to lump all mosque opponents together as violent bigots — based on one isolated incident. But if anyone dares to raise concerns about the connection between Islam and terrorism, you claim that it is unfair to hold all Muslims responsible for the acts of a tiny minority of extremists.

      But in the case of Islam, the terrorists are very far from being a small, isolated minority — and this is an objective fact. The most extreme forms of Islam enjoy widespread support among tens of millions and possibly even hundreds of millions of Muslims. This fact is undeniably demonstrated every time there is an election anywhere in the Muslim world.

      For example, in the most recent nationwide elections in Turkey (2007), the Islamist party, AKP, received 47% of the vote — over 16 million votes. The current Prime Minister of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdo?an, is fond of quoting a particular line from one of his favorite poems: “the mosques are our barracks.” And this in the most secular of all Muslim states!

      Fareed Zarakia has written quite a bit about the widespread popular support enjoyed by Islamic terrorists — up to and including Osama bin Laden himself. Zakaria is a Muslim and his father was an Indian Muslim scholar. Zakaria is also a vocal supporter of Imam Rauf and the Cordoba Institute, and a very harsh critic of the opponents of the Ground Zero Mosque.

      • The United States bares a great deal of responsibility for the hostility of Muslims towards the US and its policies. We stuck our noses into an Islamic Civil War, we invaded Afghanistan, we bomb their civilians, we proselytize overseas (including our military – see the MRFF on this) and we invaded Iraq for no reason whatsoever and killed upwards of a million people who had done nothing wrong.

        Terrorists are a small minority. It is not an objective fact that the opposite is true.

        The fact is, and this IS an objective fact, the Constitution says that we have freedom of religion and that therefore Muslims as well as Christians and Jews and anyone else, have a right to their religious beliefs, and a right to practice them without government interference.

        An excellent book on some of our problems in Afghanistan, and on the Islamic civil war I referred to above, is David Kilcullen’s The Accidental Guerilla (2009). Kilcullen served as Senior Counterinsurgency Advisor to Gen. David Petraeus in Iraq. Kilcullen makes the argument that there is a difference between what he calls “accidental guerillas” – those with legitimate grievances and a coordinated worldwide terror network of dedicated terrorists. We cannot lump everyone into the same category and use debunked tactics like collective guilt and move ahead. As he makes clear, we have to apply different tactics to different situations and not treat everyone the same.

        We cannot treat Muslims who make “mosques their barracks” any different than we treat Christians who make churches their barracks and not every fundamentalist Muslim is a terrorist any more than every fundamentalist Christian is a terrorist.

        I’m not discounted the threat of Islamic terror and terrorists. I’m saying you can’t take away a group’s constitutional rights because you find them suspect. We did that (to our shame) to the Japanese Americans. The Germans did it to the Jews on a far larger and more terrible scale. We shouldn’t be doing it here.

  15. FB ID: Peinck Muslimah

    Thank you so much. I mentioned to a friend that I have been trying to post links to my FB profile depicting religious solidarity in the face of modern Islamophobia, and he pointed me to this post of yours.

    I really don’t care what our differences our. When we look at our religious values, lovingkindness and an introspective devotion should pop right at us as our primary spiritual goals. And (as far as I can tell) we both share that.

    • Thank you, Pink. I agree, it really doesn’t make any difference how different our beliefs might be. As I said on a post on Heathen’s Day yesterday, we don’t even have to all approve of each other to get along. I think most moderate people understand that as you say, loving kindness and devotion are something most people have in common.

      For me, speaking as a Heathen, all this talk about Islam as a violent religion sounds identical to the talk of Norse Heathenism being a violent religion, as though the Vikings were some kind of extra violent species based on their religion – and history proves both assertions untrue. Christianity is supposedly a religion of peace but it was not in evidence for most of it’s history, including the Viking Age.

    • Tagged your page as Portable Weirdness.

      The other things that people seem to forget is that differences have a range, and belief is not static. The people in a given group may identify with a common theme, but under that umbrella be as different as sugar to pepper. Put the same group up beside a corresponding peer from 500, 200, or even a mere 50 years ago, and they won’t be exactly alike.

      Given that, I can’t rationalize bulk labeling. If I do for the sake of simplicity or expediency, I still have to say “some crazy people are Muslims” rather than “some Muslims are crazy”.

      • I was just talking to my son’s nurse about this…how religions change over time, one of my own personal problems with “reconstruction” whether it’s Pagan or Christian. Religions DO change, cultures and societies change. Nothing is static.

        Yeah, there are crazies in every group, bar none. Religious ideas may give them focus but you wonder if some of these people wouldn’t be crazy no matter what religion (or none) they were part of.

  16. [...] as members, has issued a call for solidarity with the Muslim community (a call echoed by some individuals within the Pagan community). Starhawk thinks we should turn off our TVs and go out to meet our [...]

  17. I think Starhawk is on to something. We clearly have a ways to go towards thinking of each other as people and equally worthy of respect.