Key Religious Groups Either Oppose Or Won’t Weigh In On ‘Ground Zero Mosque’

Few of the nation’s most influential religious organizations have offered support for the so-called “Ground Zero Mosque.” A survey of several groups by TPM finds that they either oppose the plan or take no position on the issue.

Most vociferously opposed is the Southern Baptist Convention.

“I take a back seat to no one when it comes to religious freedom and religious belief and the right to express that belief, even beliefs that I find abhorrent,” said Richard Land, president of SBC’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, on his weekly radio program. “But what I don’t do is I don’t say that religious freedom means that you have the right to build a place of worship anywhere that you want to build them.”Land echoed that sentiment on NPR’s “To The Point.” “I defend the right for Muslims to have places of worship in lower Manhattan, but not at Ground Zero,” he said. “The right to religious freedom doesn’t include the right to have a religious worship place wherever you want it.”

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has not taken a position, and according to a spokesperson, has no plans to do so. “There’s not anything that’s on our agenda.”

The National Association of Evangelicals has likewise not taken a position, but spokeswoman Sarah Kropp tells TPM that a statement could be forthcoming at the end of the month when the group’s governmental affairs director returns from vacation. Kropp pointed TPM to a recent NAE statement condemning a plan by a Florida group to hold a Qu’ran burning on September 11.

NAE President Leith Anderson said in that statement, “It sounds like the proposed Qu’ran burning is rooted in revenge. Yet the Bible says that Christians should ‘make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else’ (1 Thessalonians 5:15).”

The United Methodist Church likewise has taken no position on the issue, but a spokeswoman Diane Degnan tells TPM that the UMC doesn’t have a church leader or central office, and the only body that speaks for the church meets only once every four years.

Late update: A reader points out that Boston’s Cardinal O’Malley supports the Mosque: “Having a mosque near the site of the attack can be a very important symbol of how much we value religious freedom in this country,” he said.

A spokesman for the New York Archdiocese was not immediately available for comment

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