From James O'Toole of the P-G:
Seeking the middle ground on a polarizing issue, Rep. Joe Sestak said that as long as constitutional rights are respected, it's up to New Yorkers to make the decisions on a proposal to build an Islamic study center and mosque near the former site of the World Trade Center.I would not say that's a "middle ground" position. Sestak's defending the Constitution and saying that whatever the resolution is in NYC, the Constitutional right to religious freedom has to be respected. That's "middle ground"? To-MAY-to/to-MAH-to, I guess.
"I believe in the constitutional right of religious freedom and that the separation of church and state applies equally to everyone," Mr. Sestak, D-Delaware County, said yesterday. "This issue is a New York issue, and I'll let them resolve it, but it has to be resolved with respect for that constitutional right."
On the other hand, we have Pat Toomey (or rather Toomey's communications director):
Mr. Toomey opposes the mosque proposal.The hypocrisy of this statement is subtle and two-fold.
"It is provocative in the extreme to build a mosque in the shadow of ground zero," said Nachama Soloveichik, Mr. Toomey's communications director. "Islamic leaders should be encouraged to move the mosque elsewhere."
First - One should ask Congressman Toomey if he thinks it's "provocative in the extreme" to allow Muslims to pray to Mecca at The Pentagon. He should be reminded that The Pentagon was attacked too, on 9/11 and as such is no less hallowed ground.
Muslims have been praying in there for years. This is from the Washington Times in 2007:
Navy imam Chaplain Abuhena M. Saifulislam lifted his voice to God as he called to prayer more than 100 Department of Defense employees Monday at a celebration of Ramadan at the Pentagon.Second - There's something called the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (the RLUIPA). It was passed by voice vote unanimously in July, 2000. I should point out now that Pat Toomey joined the House of Representatives in January, 1999. So unless he wasn't there to vote for the act, he voted for it.
God is most great, sang the lieutenant commander and Islamic leader, in Arabic, as iftar — the end of the daily fast began.
Uniformed military personnel, civilians and family members faced Mecca and knelt on adorned prayer rugs chanting their prayers in quiet invocation to Allah.
Here is what the American Center for Law and Justice has to say about the act:
42 U.S.C. § 2000cc. Thus, within the jurisdictional framework of section (a)(2), RLUIPA prohibits two things: 1) any land use requirement that substantially burdens free exercise, even if the requirement is generally applicable; and 2) discrimination against religious assemblies and institutions.And yet Congressman Toomey thinks discrimination is OK now.