Southern Religion

The Southern Baptist Richard Land/Wiley Drake anti-mosque axis?

Southern Baptist Convention Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) chief Richard Land predicted Park51 will never be built while former SBC Second Vice President Wiley Drake was speaking in futile opposition to the Islamic Center of Temecula Valley (Calif.) mosque.

In an interview with the American Family Association’s oddly filtered One News Now, Land is quoted as having said:

“I guarantee you that mosque will not be built two blocks from Ground Zero, and I’ll tell you why — the construction unions will refuse to build it,” he suggests. “And if the construction unions don’t build it, it won’t get built. The hard hats will picket it, and the unions will not cross that picket line. They lost too many of their own on 9/11.”

Meanwhile, Jeff Horseman of The Press-Enterprise reports that the Temecula Planning Commission voted unanimously to approve plans to build a mosque after a a 5 ½-hour public hearing in which Drake rose to speak:

Mosque critic Wiley Drake said Sept. 11 stemmed from the activity of mosques. And John Trautman said Muslims “are not only our enemy but pagans. Why would we want them in our backyard?”

Drake and others of similar view provoked Planning Commissioner John Telesion to say:

I’ve got holes in my tongue from biting it from some of the things I heard. Ignorance of the facts breeds fear, fear breeds hatred and I hope that’s an anomaly.

Of course Land is well-known for having pushed PolitiFact Lie of the Year Award winner Sarah Palin’s vice presidential candidacy toward John McCain. And in doing so Land helped crush McCain’s presidential hopes.

While Drake is probably best-known for his campaign of “imprecatory prayer” directed at still-alive-and-well President Obama.

From those two, mosques and community centers are safe.

The SBC’s reputation, maybe not so much.


December 2, 2010 Posted by | SBC | , , , | 2 Comments

Look at beautiful Park51 (neither a mosque nor at Ground 0)

Park51 street view

Architectural drawings reveal a “futuristic,” latticework structure whose design is based, the project’s official twitter account tells us, on Mashrabiya and fills the interior with natural light.

Ed Pilkington writes in the Guardian:

In fact, the proposed scheme for the much-slated “Ground Zero mosque” is neither a mosque nor at Ground Zero – it is a multifaith community centre with an Islamic prayer area, two blocks north of the site where the twin towers once stood. Now, conceptual drawings of the building have been released, revealing a planned structure that is strikingly modern and in keeping with the spirit of New York’s most cutting-edge design.

. . .

Contrary to the mass of bad publicity that has been heaped on it in recent weeks, the building is designed to be multifaith and also secular.

Sharif el-Gamal, the developer of the $120m (£76m) project, told Associated Press that nearly a quarter of its space would be devoted to a sports and fitness centre, which, it is hoped, would attract New York residents of any faith and ethnicity for a fee of up to $2,700 a year per family. Another floor would be given over to a playground and childcare area.

In addition, there would be a restaurant and exhibition space, and on the 12th floor a memorial and sanctuary remembering the events of 11 September 2001 that would again be multidenominational.

. . .

Equally, at least four floors of Park51 are to be given over to a gym and spa, and only two basement floors to a Muslim prayer hall. With a restaurant, artists’ studios and a childcare centre, this $140m building clad in an abstract play of Islamic patterns could hardly be less militantly hardcore.

The Park51 Web site explains that the architectural renderings were “prepared by our Architectural Design consultants SOMA Architects. These new images display an updated exterior and provide a first look into Park51’s interior and lend some insight on how we’re envisioning the project.”

Only the most absurdly strained view of the Park51 as made visible now can be made to support objections by the Southern Baptist Convention’s Richard Land and others to its construction.

October 4, 2010 Posted by | Politics, Religion | , , , | Comments Off on Look at beautiful Park51 (neither a mosque nor at Ground 0)

There was a mosque/prayer room in the south tower

All of Richard Land’s contrived arguments about how close for a mosque is “too close” to Ground Zero for the Park51 center falls to hypocritical pieces when you realize that interred in the rubble are the remains of the mosque in the South Tower.

Call it aprayer room” if you wish.

It was on the 17th floor, and it wasn’t the only space in the towers where faithful Muslims prayed:

Moreover, the prayer room was not the only example of Muslim religious practice in or near the trade center. About three dozen Muslim staff members of Windows on the World, the restaurant atop the north tower, used a stairwell between the 106th and 107th floors for their daily prayers.

Without enough time to walk to the closest mosque — Masjid Manhattan on Warren Street, about four blocks away — the waiters, chefs, banquet managers and others would lay a tablecloth atop the concrete landing in the stairwell and flatten cardboard boxes from food deliveries to serve as prayer mats.

During Ramadan, the Muslim employees brought their favorite foods from home, and at the end of the daylight fast shared their iftar meal in the restaurant’s employee cafeteria.

After 9/11, Muslims prayed at Ground Zero for their fellow Muslims who had been irretrievably interred in the rubble.

Samuel G. Freedman of the New York Times wrote:

Fekkak Mamdouh, an immigrant from Morocco who was head waiter, attended a worship service just weeks after the attacks that honored the estimated 60 Muslims who died. Far from being viewed as objectionable, the service was conducted with formal support from city, state and federal authorities, who arranged for buses to transport imams and mourners to Warren Street.

There, within sight of the ruins, they chanted salat al-Ghaib, the funeral prayer when there is not an intact corpse.

“It is a shame, shame, shame,” Mr. Mamdouh, 49, said of the Park51 dispute. “Sometimes I wake up and think, this is not what I came to America for. I came here to build this country together. People are using this issue for their own agenda. It’s designed to keep the hate going.”

The underlying truth of the counterfactual uproar over Park51 is fanning the flames of hate, Richard.

September 16, 2010 Posted by | Politics, Religion, SBC | , , | 2 Comments

Counterfactual Richard Land Un-Mosqued

The head of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission doesn’t let the facts confuse his opposition to the Park51 Islamic center.

Richard Land made his lack of due concern for the facts clear in a recent interview with Ethics Daily. Brian Kaylor wrote:

Land began an interview with by quickly asserting that the site stands too close to Ground Zero and therefore is inappropriate for housing a mosque. Land argued the site is “at best two blocks away, depends on how you calculate it.” He proposed that moving it “four or five blocks” would make the site acceptable.

In reality, the proposed center would sit more than two blocks from the closest corner of the 16-acre World Trade Center complex that includes many buildings that survived the attack nearly nine years ago. The center actually would be about six blocks from the closest of the two main towers hit by airplanes. Such distance from the towers fits with Land’s desired distance, but he remains opposed to the site.

When Land complained during the interview that the site was within eyesight of Ground Zero, it was pointed out to him that there were actually tall buildings that prevented the site from being seen from Ground Zero. Yet, he still maintained that the site was too close.

Later on the radio program “Interfaith Voices,” Land took a different position that was more expansively confused:

There shouldn’t be one [a mosque] within, uh, eyeshot or earshot. And if it weren’t for the interference of buildings, this would be within the, what’s being proposed would be within eyesight.


Whatever he meant in that case, counterfactual positions aren’t new to Richard Land. He has also been persistently counterfactual on health reform. Indeed, he deserved an honorable mention for Sarah Palin’s PolitiFact Lie of the Year Award, which she received for elevating the fictitious “death panels” to a topic of frenzied national debate. Nor should it be forgotten that his false health reform/Holocaust comparisons were elevated to the level of international scandal.

Why expect a new and different Richard Land to step forward for Park51?

September 14, 2010 Posted by | Politics, Religion, SBC | , , , , | 2 Comments