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1 Sep, 2010 20:15

Freedom of religion only for some?

The Ground Zero mosque is slated to be built on what is considered by many as sacred ground, just as Glenn Beck’s ‘Restoring Honor’ rally was held on ground sacred to others.

All summer long, a debate had raged about the appropriateness of building a mosque near the 9/11 site. The question from opponents of the mosque being: how can Muslims desecrate the memory of those heinous attacks by building a mosque on the site where terrorists attacked in the name of Islam?

Glenn Beck’s “Restoring Honor” rally was – among many purposes – about honoring America’s servicemen and women, firefighters, police officers and raising scholarship money for the children of servicemen and women killed in combat. It was not supposed to be about politics at all. But in true Glenn Beck style, it was. It was held at the Lincoln Memorial on August 28th, which happens to be the same date and location of Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream Speech”. Being an extremely divisive figure, Glenn Beck was railed against for holding his event at that particular date and location. It was essentially sacred ground for Beck’s critics.

To be specific, the proposed mosque does not sit exactly on hallowed ground unlike the rally which essentially did.

If Tea Partiers want the Cordoba House moved because of its proximity to sacred ground and because it could potentially violate the sanctity of a defining moment of American history, couldn’t one argue the same thing for the “Restoring Honor” rally? If Tea Partiers wonder why the mosque just can’t be moved, then why couldn’t Glenn Beck have moved his rally?

Some in the Tea Party have argued there is no way to compare the two situations, because the rally is a one-day event whereas the mosque would be sitting by Ground Zero in perpetuity. But, what if Glenn Beck decides to host his rally on that same site on the same date for the rest of his life?

The mosque is actually designed to be a community center with a mosque in a single room located within the center. Currently, there is a mosque within the Pentagon which was attacked on 9/11 as well. However, there have not been calls for the Pentagon or that mosque to be removed.

The majority of Tea Partiers believe America is a “Christian” nation. The group claims to honor and uphold the US Constitution as the bedrock of their beliefs. However, the US Constitution guarantees freedom of religion and freedom of assembly. One cannot invoke the Constitutional rights of freedom of religion and assembly for one system of beliefs and not extend the same to someone of another belief. You can’t have it both ways.

RT’s Cedric Moon asked one Tea Partier; "Is the only difference between this event being held here on this day and what's happening at Ground Zero is the fact this is a Christian nation and this is a Christian event? Is that the difference? Is that what you're telling us at this point?"

"You know what? You know what? I am going to stand on that and I'm going to say 'yes'. But not only am I going to say 'yes' but that the difference is Glenn Beck is an honorable person," he replied.

Radio host Thom Hartmann said that both the 9/11 site and Lincoln Memorial are iconic. Yet the bizarre comparison is more what Beck stands for as opposed to what Martin Luther King, JR stood for. King stood for rising up the poor, unionizing workers, and simply helping others.

Glenn Beck’s message is the exact opposite of that,” said Hartmann.

He argued it was a desecration for sorts to co-op the day and place for his rally. He explained that Tea Partiers see the rally/King’s speech issue complexly separately from the ground zero mosque debate.

What this really highlights is the hypocrisy of the language of separation of church and state because, the whole Glenn Beck thing is lets religious and bring religion into the state, but it damn well better be Christian religion,” said Hartmann.

He argued that the Tea Party is ok with church and state mixing, so long as it is their religion, the Christian Religion.

“It goes beyond double standard, it goes to screaming hypocrisy and frankly I think a large chunk of racism,” said Hartman.

Beck claimed at his rally that he wanted to restore the values of America; Hartmann said Beck is complexly incoherent.

If he wants go back to the value system that was extant at that time; the age of consent was seven, child prostitution was legal and common, pretty much everybody, well not everybody, but a lot of people were using cocaine and legally, public drunkenness was widespread, there were no unions, I mean do we really want to go back to that? If he is talking about lets go back to that. Or, does he want to just go back to the 50s when black people couldn’t go in certain restaurants and when segregation was legal? Frankly I think the America he is nostalgic for is the segregated America,” said Hartmann.