Shuck and Jive

Opinions expressed here are my own and do not represent the views of the congregation I joyfully serve. But my congregation loves me!

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Is It Fair to Deny Baptists a Place to Worship Freely?

This one was hair-raising. The Johnson City Press recently polled its readers by asking:

Is it fair to deny Muslims a place to worship freely?

What a stupid question. Here is a better one:

Is it fair to deny the Johnson City Press its opinion?

I don't know what the intent of the JC Press was with that doozie, but it did serve to bring out the crazies.

Here are the results of the poll:


The constitution provides an answer to this question.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
— The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution
The reason the constitution says what it says is because human beings are ignorant, bigoted, and fearful. They don't understand the simple logic that what you do to others can come back and bite you in the behind.

Thankfully, the constitution was not written by the 31% of JC Press readers who answered the poll question by saying, "Yes."

It was written to protect society
from them.

Today's Letter to the Editor section provided some responses. Glad to see a letter from my friend, Taneem Aziz, of the Muslim Community of Northeast Tennessee:

I was surprised to see at least two mentions about Muslims in your paper in the last 10 days.

One was the cartoon that you chose to publish in the “Insight” section of July 18. The cartoon saying Muslims are from another planet was certainly lacking insight.

The second was the “Question of the week” on July 26 asking: “Is it fair to deny Muslims a place to worship freely?”

Why is that even a question? Obviously there are reasons. A poll by the Gallup Center for Muslim Studies revealed 53 percent of Americans view Islam unfavorably compared with 42 percent who view the religion favorably.

Fear is a great motivator. False fears lead to negative motivations. We, as Muslim Americans, cherish our American values. Sure, it has an Islamic flavor, but that can be said of any religious or ethnic group.

False fear mongers abound today, instigating a certain faction of the population to hate without knowing the facts. We are fed our daily dose of “news,” or should I say “noise” about Muslims from all sorts of media/propaganda outlets. How many of your readers have had the opportunity to talk to a Muslim about Islam? After an intellectual understanding and discussion of Islam they may have another point of view.

It is with this in mind I invite your readers to come to our congregational prayers at the Islamic Center at 3010 Antioch Road in Johnson City. It is held from 1:30 p.m. to 2:15 p.m. on Fridays. After the prayer we will listen to your comments, and be happy to answer any questions. Our facility has been open to the community and many in the non-Muslim community have visited with us. TANEEM AZIZ

Thank you, Taneem.


  1. 62% said "NO... it is NOT fair to deny them a place to worship", not the other way around. I guess it's confusing because No is usually negative. But, this time "No" was the right answer.

  2. Oops. I originally read the poll results wrongly. I had the 62% and 31% reversed in my head. I guess I should be relieved that nearly a third of polling sample thinks it is fair to deny first amendment freedoms to Muslims.

  3. Thanks, Mother! I caught it as soon as I hit publish!

  4. And I changed the sentence so now the blog post is correct. My hair has settled down a bit, but not much...

  5. Perhaps a more poignant analogy would be if they had asked if it is fair to deny Jews a place to worship freely.

  6. The question is meaningless. There is no context; it is a complete generality. Under certain circumstances, it is "fair" and right and just to deny anyone the right to worship freely. If you're worshiping a god of baby-killing, and your worship involves killing babies, then it should be denied at all times and places. If a group wishes to worship in a place and/or in a manner that causes a public disturbance (or, for instance, is in a place like a public school or courthouse), then it seems there are constitutional restrictions that will mean a denial of freedom. Even the freedom of speech is not really universal and unlimited; neither is freedom of religion (unless "religion" is taken to mean only a private and spiritual sphere, which is false). But the bias against Muslims, which I assume is prompted by the issue with the 911 site, is troubling. It is a dumb poll question, though.

  7. @pastormack The question isn't meaningless. It drips with meaning. It is the meaning of prejudice.

    I think you are right, Seeker.

  8. I think that Mayor Bloomberg said it all -

    If that doesn't work I linked it from the Buddy.

  9. I routinely deny Baptists anything they ask of me. Anabaptists however are a different story.

  10. Welcome back John! You were missed.

    I dropped the following at a Jewish site:

    1. How close to Ground Zero ARE Muslims allowed to go? (sarcastic)
    2. Curious that the Mosque will be named "Cordoba, a city conquered by the Spanish while kicking all Muslims out of Spain (and then the Christians brought in the Inquisition and killed as many Jews as possible, even those who had converted to Christianity.
    3. Does this mean that Jews are allowed to pray on the Temple Mount? Right now if you aren't a Muslim the Israeli police will hustle you off of the Temple Mount if you look like you are praying,

  11. This is simple...

    "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."

    Now, pastormack....

    It says "an establishment of religion" not "the establishment of religion".
    That leaves the human sacrifice religions you seemed to allude to out because they are not recognized "establishments".

    And nobody ever said a group or individual can't worship in school. It's just that the school cannot organize it or differentiate from the normal schedule to allow for it.
    I and other friends always said grace at the table in the lunch room and no one ever tried to stop us.

    There are certain facts about this particular issue that many seem to miss, so just in case...

    1) "It" is not just a Mosque. It is a cultural center that promotes peace and inter-faith harmony. A center that has pledged to erect a memorial to the victims and families of 9/11.

    2) "It" is two blocks away from G-0. That's two Manhattan blocks. It might as well be in Ohio. Anyone who's ever walked in Manhattan will tell you that.

    3) The law is the law. No established religious body can be discriminated against because their beliefs.

    Damn good point.

    Depending on what one believes, it 's reasonable to think that some would be offended by the mere presence of Israelis in this country...

  12. @Jay Bloomberg nailed it.

    @Dr : )

    @Bob & @Captain

    This is about scapegoating. Conjure up a false enemy and stir up a daily dose of hate at that "enemy." Then the masses can't and won't see who is really pulling the strings and why.

  13. I'm surprised that survey showed just 31% responses in the affirmative, actually. Maybe I've set the bar a little too low!

    You know, here's my thought: this is a manufactured controversy, with a certain political faction whipping a certain sector of the voting public into a frenzy for their own political end.

    I know this because there is already a msoque near Ground Zero (has been since before 9/11). There is already a mosque in Murfreesboro, where our Middle TN legislators have ridiculed the state by opposing an expansion of that facility.

    Who here remembers all of those purple fingers Congress Critters waved around after the Iraq elections? Nashville was one of those polling sites for ex-pat Iraqis. We had thousands of Muslims come to Nashville to vote and the newspapers and local television coverage was glowing. We were all so puffed and proud of ourselves for what we'd done, letting these folks vote, it was all "democracy! Boo-rah!"

    Some of those people voting were Christians but I think a big majority of them were Muslims. None of that mattered.

    What worries me about what your rightly call scapegoating -- and we see it with the illegal immigration issue -- is that a large chunk of the American public and the American MEDIA is so readily caught up in this maelstrom. I wish we could all recognize how phony it is and just tune it out. But no, sadly we are easily manipulated.

    I don't know why that is .... maybe another blog post?

  14. I can only imagine the backlash against the specter of gas chambers if 31% of the population thought Jews should be denied a place to worship.

    Seriously, can you imagine the outcry?

  15. @Beale

    Here is my hypothesis:

    We have reached Peak Oil. Our leaders know this. They have known it has been imminent for some time. Our current president knows it. His predecessor knew it, and the one before him.

    We have reached the limits of our consumption. We cannot be told that. We have to buy stuff. It is not in the media's interest (because it is the corporate media) to tell us the truth. The media serves growth.

    You can't grow unless you have energy.

    We need 20 million barrels of oil a day. Every day. We produce six. We need 20. Our leaders (and the CIA) will do what it takes to get it. "The American way of life is non-negotiable." Wars, crashing other country's economies, military bases all over the planet, whatever it takes. Inconceivable evil will be and has been done.

    Of course, our leaders can't just do that in the open. We would object. It isn't right to go and murder and steal. So our leaders make a deal with us. They will give us a bad guy so we won't have to look at ourselves. We won't ask any questions.

    60% of the world's oil reserves are in the Middle East. The "bad guy" is the angry, evil Muslim who sits on those reserves. Look what he did on September 11th, 2001. We are outraged. We must protect ourselves. Patriot Act. War with Iraq. War in Afghanistan. Torture. Whatever. We give our leaders whatever they need to "protect" us. But they are really securing the remaining reserves under the guise of protecting us.

    So we make a deal with our leaders that is mostly unconscious.

    "Keep the gas coming and we will believe your story about the evil Muslims and the orange terror alerts. We will believe the fairy tale that we are good and moral and our military bases around the world are for the world's good. And all the people all over the planet that we have pissed off hate us because of our freedoms not because we are greedy. We won't believe or at least we won't say and we will ridicule those who do say -- that it is about oil. We promise. We will of course believe your story about 911."

    It has taken me nine years to finally be able to say publicly what I believe to be true.

    911 was a false flag.

  16. Yes, there was a hijacking. There were many attempts that were easily stopped long before 911 and after. On that day our leaders decided to stop the rest but let one plan succeed. Not only that, they helped it along.

    For those who care to really look, you can go here and the best book on the topic is here.

    We are actually good people and we cannot imagine that such evil would be committed. We cannot go there emotionally, psychologically, or spiritually. So even when confronted with truth, we immediately deny.

    Those who are more conscious rationalize. Why look too deeply? Why open this can of worms? Does it matter? Is it worth it to talk about it? Should I jeopardize my own career, be called a "conspiracy theorist", and lose credibility on other issues?

    These false flags have happened before throughout history. They are great tricks to keep the populace compliant.

    All that said, more and more people are waking up. That would be bad for our oil habit.

    So in response to the reality that more and more are waking up to Peak Oil and the geopolitics of it (including 911) the media maelstrom regarding the mosque at ground zero continues to reinforce the fable of 911.

    "Remember the Alamo. They are bad and we are good."

    It is a morality play. Like a religious drama that is repeated every year we need to continue to be indoctrinated that the evil Muslims are a threat. That justifies handing authority without question (or with token questions) to military escapades to secure oil reserves under the guise of protecting us from terrorists.

  17. Well, if that was there plan, they are sure doing a piss poor job going about it.