Recently, there has been uproar over plans to build an Islamic cultural center blocks away from Ground Zero in New York City. While the city council and Mayor Bloomberg are in favor of this project, conservative leaders such as Sarah Palin and other media pundits criticize its location by stating it’s “ too raw, too real.”
Many of the same people who are attempting to block this project also hold great reverence for the Founding Fathers. However, the Founding Fathers undertook great risks to secure religious tolerance for our country, something they were not granted in Britain.
This entire debate rests on two founding principles: religious freedom and property rights.
The attacks on 9/11 and its victims should not be ignored, however, we cannot lay blame on the entire Islamic community for the terrible acts that occurred on that day. The Islamic cultural center would be a great way for others to learn about Islam and ultimately build bridges between the United States and the Muslim World. Islam by principle is not an extremist religion and not all Muslims should be portrayed in such way.
More importantly, those who have ownership of the site should have the freedom and the right to build what they wish. Property rights should be respected as a right for all citizens, not just a few. Our platform clearly states, “The owners of property have the full right to control, use, dispose of, or in any manner enjoy, their property without interference, until and unless the exercise of their control infringes the valid rights of others.” The Islamic cultural center does not infringe on the rights of others.
As Steven Chapman describes in his article at Reason, “Palin is not a slave to intellectual consistency. Change the church to a mosque, and put it a couple of blocks from the site of the World Trade Center, and she suddenly loses all patience with the rights of religious believers.”
Libertarian Party candidate for New York State Governor, Warren Redlich, also weighed in on the issue stating, "…I have asked some people if they would object if it was a synagogue, church, Jewish community center, or YMCA. All of them say that wouldn’t bother them. So the reason for opposing this facility is because it’s associated with the Muslim religion. That violates freedom of religion under the First Amendment."
More on Warren Redlich’s position on the issue can be found here and here.
This blog post was created by Libertarian National Committee Interns Marissa Giannotta and Josh Roll