The Center for Inquiry’s Statement on the Ground Zero Controversy
CFI fully supports the free exercise of religion; protecting the rights of believers and nonbelievers is central to CFI’s mission. Accordingly, CFI endorses President Obama’s recent statement reminding the country that Muslim Americans enjoy the same rights as other Americans and should not be treated as second-class citizens. There should be no legal impediment to the placement of an Islamic community center near Ground Zero, just as there should be no legal impediment to the placement of a church, temple, or synagogue near Ground Zero.
Further, CFI laments the effort by some to turn the proposed Islamic center into a political issue. Government officials and candidates for office should not intervene in disputes over the alleged offensiveness of a place of worship. Such conduct violates the spirit, if not the letter, of the Establishment Clause. Government officials should not be deciding who is a “moderate” Muslim any more than they should be deciding who is a “moderate” Christian or Jew.
A number of private individuals have protested the proposed Islamic center. The tone and substance of these protests covers a wide range. Some protesting the Islamic center have raised legitimate questions, but to the extent the objections to the Islamic center mistakenly equate all Muslims with Muslim extremists, CFI condemns them.
CFI maintains that an Islamic center, including a mosque, near Ground Zero, in and of itself, is no different than a church, temple, or synagogue. It is undeniable that the 9/11 terrorists were inspired by their understanding of Islam, and that currently there are far more Islamic terrorists in the world than terrorists of other faiths, but those facts are not relevant to the location of the Islamic center, absent evidence that terrorists are involved in this endeavor, and there is no such evidence.
CFI’s unequivocal support for the legal right of Muslims to place a community center near Ground Zero does not imply that CFI views the new center as an event to be celebrated. To the contrary, CFI is committed to the position that reason and science, not faith, are needed to address and resolve humanity’s problems. All religions share a fundamental flaw: they reflect a mistaken understanding of reality. On balance, CFI does not consider houses of worship to be beneficial to humanity, whether they are built at Ground Zero or elsewhere.
This statement supersedes any prior statement issued by CFI regarding the Ground Zero controversy.
The Ground Zero Mosque (placeholder name) hubub is getting a lot of attention. CFI would like to get a lot of attention because frankly no one pays any attention to what we say anymore. This is the kind of issue we ought to say something about so, here we are.
A couple of days ago we said some silly things, or maybe said things that gave our readers the idea that we approved of religion.
So forget all that and let us try again. Number one, however: We do not like religion, or as we like to call it “theism.” Theism is evil, but that doesn’t mean you should not tolerate it. Just because your neighbor is a pervert doesn’t mean you should burn down his house, right? This is our core philosophy about such things. Violence doesn’t solve anything. Ridicule does.
As a free speech advocacy group, we support the right of anyone to say anything. We have even taken the lead in being offensive and insulting toward religion, just to make our point.
As a super-charged First Amendment Rights organization, we believe that everyone is entitled to practice their faith as they see fit. Or not to practice any faith. Commitment is the real issue. We also think the jury is out on Mormons,especially the sexual multitaskers, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and other annoying groups, but they’re not in the news right now, are they?
Some people think that because we spend most of our time ridiculing religion that we would oppose building the Ground Zero Mosque (placeholder name). They have another think coming. We are full of surprises and this is just one of them. Politicians should butt out and not try to politicize this. That’s for groups like ours. This isn’t about who loves America most. It’s about who’s right.
Basically we believe that a mosque is like a porn shop. You may not like what it sells but a guy’s got a right to make a living. Or it is like your evil neighbor’s house. You choose the best analogy.
Like we said before, Islam is just another religion. You can’t really draw any conclusions from the fact that there are maybe a zillion times more extremists in Islam than in any other religion. If there were a zillion more porn shops in Lincoln, Nebraska than Peoria, Illinois, what would you conclude? Exactly. That reminds us of a joke: How many altar boys does it take for a bishop to change a lightbulb?
Another thing we think is that Muslims need exercise. Not just driver’s-ed, weight- training with heavy explosives, running, and diving but maybe pilates, tae kwon do, twenty minutes on a non-exploding treadmill, maybe a few laps in a warm pool with a Michael Bublé track playing in the background. We think the Community Center attached to the Ground Zero Mosque (placeholder name) might be a good idea. Maybe a small side chapel, the way Catholics have their tabernacles or wtf nowadays, but all the rest of the space for exercise and International Menu Nights–focus on veg.
CFI looks forward to joining the residents of the Ground Zero Mosque at its groundbreaking along with people of faith, people of no faith, people with yellow teeth and people who are just passing by. Like all freedom-loving Americans, we celebrate our differences, along with people of colour and people of no colour.
We celebrate the fact that our Constitution gives us the right to paint our crappy house purple on a street of well-maintained Victorian clapboard whites. We believe we have the right to insult or not to insult and to be offended or not to be offended. We’re not too sure about carrying sidearms to public rallies. But we’re working on a position paper and you can bet it will be awesome.
The key thing is consistency.