Two Bad Ideas—Building a Mosque & Burning the Qur’an

Two big items in the news today: first, Imam Feisal Abdul’s article congratulating America on its religious tolerance of Islam; second, an American pastor’s plans to burn copies of the Qur’an on the anniversary of 9/11.

Building a mosque at Ground Zero is a bad idea. So is burning the Qur’an.

The media and politicians on the Left are obsessed with the differences between the two intentions. Putting it mildly, they condone the erection of the controversial mosque. But let’s be honest. Those who haven’t been silent—including President Obama and NYC mayor Bloomberg—have expressed unequivocal support for building the mosque (even though they have equivocated following their unequivocal expressions of support).

What about the pastor, with plans of his own? He is angrily denounced.

Ahem. What about the striking similarity between the two men and their “projects”?

Whatever else can be said about their true intentions, their plans appear to be deliberately provocative. That’s the point that ought to be stressed in the great conversation we’re having about “tolerance” and “rights.”

Within the framework of this likeness—that is, both are deliberately provocative—we can make more useful distinctions between the men and their plans. We should acknowledge their similarity, then ask: as deliberately provocative acts, how do they differ?

Here’s one salient difference. A mosque will have a longer term effect, with direct bearing on more people, than the singular act of burning copies of the Qur’an on 9/11. The minister’s action, if he goes through with it in a few days, will soon be forgotten—even by Muslims, I dare say. But if the mosque is built, it will stand as a permanent monument to—well, what?

For non-muslims, the mosque would not be a monument to anything at all. But can this be said of Muslims? Hmm?

About Doug Geivett
University Professor; PhD in philosophy; author; conference speaker. Hobbies include motorcycling, travel, kayaking, sailing.

4 Responses to Two Bad Ideas—Building a Mosque & Burning the Qur’an

  1. I know this is an old item but I only just came around to seeing it.

    The issue of the /centre/mosque for me is simple, if the organisation that is building it can guarentee that it is and will remain untouched by radicals, then it should not be stopped being built. I doubt that they can make that promiss. Additionally, is there any other Islamic centres and mosques in the area? That has never been discussed as far as I know. If it passed the radical test, only demographics should be considered. It is not even near Ground Zero to be called that, that label was produced by agenda groups and caught by the media.

    The second is the issue of the book burning. I noticed comments here that somehow the response of Christians would be tolerant and of course Muslims would be an example of “evil”. Frankly speaking that is not very accurate and reflects again the media and certain intrest groups. You burn the bible in Manila and the locals (almost 90 per cent Catholic) will simply do what the Muslims in other devleoping countries will do. The images of violence in Europe by Muslims via the Cartoons, etc, comes from the minority groups that in my view were mistakenly allowed to immigrate.

    The comment about churces in Saudi is for me a non-issue, Saudi des not represent the Muslim world and everyone knows what is expected and happens there. Try building a Mosque within the Vatican would be the answer if you pushed that line. In most Muslim countries there are as many Churches as there are Christians to fill them and it is usually based on demographics. Certainly there are issues in some areas, that is expected in developing countries and we should be reminded that their are “issues” in building mosques in Switzerland, The Netherlands and even in Poland.

    The problem with the Muslim world is a combination of the usual issues and radical/nationalistic/litracy/ignorance that all devleoping countries have and a current unwillingness to question in public the theologians/clerics/imams/mullahs/ayatollahs. If we go to Africa, priests have power and abuse, we should not forget the child-soldiers, massacres and brutalities of “the Lord’s Army” that still threatens the region around Uganda, or that in that country a law is being passed that would make homosexuality a hanging crime.

    The point I am making is that the realities and facts on the ground are very different than is spouted or underdstood in the west, that tolerance is the issue but so is economics, poverty, literacy, ignorance, corruption and power play. The developing world does have these factors, what is our excuse here in the west?

    DC Charles QC


  2. Onesimus says:

    3 questions:

    How far away from “Ground Zero” is far enough for approval for a mosque to be built?

    How many church buildings have been allowed in Saudi Arabia?


    How tolerant should we be towards the intolerant?


  3. cam says:

    What makes this post and this issue so interesting is that it’s so thought provoking. There are just so many different aspects to consider.

    On the one hand a Christian minister is is demonstrating the courage of his convictions. That’s refreshing these days. Out in the country we burn our trash to get rid of it. Sounds like he’s doing the same, though we don’t normally buy it just to burn it. ; )

    On the other hand I don’t believe it’s a real good idea to twist the tiger’s tail. It’s one thing to deal with trouble when necessary, but in this case I believe the burning would cause death and destruction not necessary at this time. It reminds me of provoking to wrath someone big and strong but not too bright just to see what would happen. All fun and game till…………………..

    This enemy is not one that should be provoked. And I think that’s another key to dealing with these people. If a four year old doesn’t get her way she may pout. Or not. If these people are provoked – or even feel they’ve been provoked – then no one’s life is secure. It’s hard to wrap our mind around this behavior here in the western world, but then we’re not out to conquer the entire known universe either.

    After your post was written I think there was a resolution; we won’t burn the books if you don’t locate your mosque-thing at it’s planned location. It’s no surprise that after this “deal” was made the minister believed the mosque people had lied to him. That’s another thing we can’t get our mind around here in the western world. Commitment and promises for these people are merely tools in order further the mission.

    Burn a Bible and Christians may become sad, disappointed or angry. Burn the Qur’an and there will blood in the streets. This is not just different world view. It’s a pretty good picture of evil.


  4. Teriann says:

    I feel that building a mosque near ground zero is a very disrespectful thing to do. At the same time, I don’t see the point in buying a bunch of books just to burn them when there are children starving in this country. Being a Christian, I can think of several ways that money could be spent to honor our Lord and Savior. Anything we do should, first and foremost bring glory to Him. I don’t see how that will be accomplished through burning these books.


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