Belief Beat

Belief Beat

Monday Morning Quarterbacking: Obamas Attend Church, Hitchens Ignores Prayers, Muslims Meet in NYC

While I continue to sift through all the coverage of Pope Benedict’s now-concluded visit to the United Kingdom, here are some links to other religion news stories that have made headlines in the last 24 hours:

1) Today is “Everybody Pray for Hitchens Day,” but ailing atheist Christopher Hitchens is ignoring the religious well-wishers, opting to continue fighting his esophageal cancer with “reason and science.”


2) President Obama and his family attended an Episcopal church service on Sunday, the first time in months that the First Family has attended a public worship service. (They have attended private services at Camp David, and Obama prays and talks to clergy every day, but who’s counting?) Presumably, this was in response to the persistent questions about the president’s faith, but I don’t think the folks spreading and believing those rumors will be convinced by anything short of a Fox News special report confirming Obama’s Christianity. At least it made for some nice family photos, though.


3) U.S. Muslim organizations have been meeting in New York City to address the outcry over Park51, the proposed Islamic community center and mosque near Ground Zero, and general Islamophobia (“Burn a Koran Day,” anyone?) and anti-Muslim sentiment going on around the country. Participants include members of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) and the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). Check back for updates on what comes out of this summit, aside from proclaiming that Muslim Americans have the same right to build houses of worship as other citizens.


What do you think? Share your thoughts in the Comments section below.

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posted September 20, 2010 at 2:37 pm

Ever heard of the First Baptist Church of Mecca? I didn’t think so… The Muslim Religion is wrought with holy places that are sensitive and restricted. Their lack of sensitivity to OUR plight, while not surprising, is completely unacceptable. It’s time the moral majority of America stands up and says enough is enough. Build your mosque, just don’t build it there!

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posted September 20, 2010 at 3:19 pm

GWB didn’t go to church but the radical Christians didn’t criticize him because he talked their narrow version of Christian talk. Whether he was Christian I won’t venture to guess.

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posted September 20, 2010 at 4:17 pm

Gee, David…so because the Saudis and other Arab nations don’t allow Christian churches to be built freely you are saying we should become more like them and restrict religious freedom?
So what other freedoms are you willing to surrender to become more like radical Muslims?

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posted September 21, 2010 at 9:08 am

Building a Mosque near Ground Zero is an outrage and a slap in the face to the souls that lost their innocent lives on 9-11-01. I’m not counting the brainwashed religious fanatical Muslims that slammed the airplanes into the Twin Towers. I don’t feel sorry for them, at all. I’m appalled at what the USA is tolerating today as opposed to yesteryear. Building a Mosque near Ground Zero is like building a Japanese shrine near Pearl Harbor. Unfortunately, these people just managed to make things worse for the Muslims that do “live and let live” here in the USA and abroad. Personally, I don’t trust any of them at all.

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Nicole Neroulias

posted September 21, 2010 at 12:07 pm

Wolfee, you may be interested to know that there are indeed several Japanese shrines near Pearl Harbor, along with the fact that a significant population of Hawaii is of Japanese ancestry.
Check out this Newsweek column by religion reporter Lisa Miller, which includes this paragraph:
Fourteen percent of Hawaiians call themselves ethnically Japanese, according to the U.S. Census, and dozens of Japanese temples stand near Pearl Harbor—as they have for decades. One of them, the Buddhist Aiea Hongwanji Mission, is less than half a mile away. “You can see Pearl Harbor from the roof, maybe. We’re really close,” says Wade Yamamoto, the temple’s treasurer. The temple allows people “to practice their religion from back home,” he says.

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posted September 21, 2010 at 2:27 pm

Thank you for your information. I did not know this. I appreciate it.

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Strate Up

posted September 21, 2010 at 3:25 pm

Might also want to consider that this is a nation of laws, not personal vendettas.

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Joe Gonzalez

posted September 21, 2010 at 6:37 pm

Find nothing really new ( or very interesting ) on today’s column.
Only that, since ‘ Darwinian ‘ evolution is incredibly slow, and we are part ( we, the human species ) of that evolution, nothing really indicates we have evolved morally much in the last 2,000 years, let’s say in order to fix an easy date. Xenophobia, or inordinate fear of strangers and foreign cultures has been with us for a long, long time. The Old Testament itself has a prescription against it : ” Thou shalt love the stranger, for you were a stranger in the Land of Egypt.” Prescriptions and laws of this type are only recorded when there is a very strong tendency to go against what the prescription
affirms or some laws legislate. During WWII, unjust detainment of Japanese Americans – and their confinement – went pretty much along without a hitch. A xenophobia vs. a religious faction that predicates our destruction as a God-given command, given our nature, and also including some good old common sense, is a normal, yet untamed or civilized ( will we ever get that far ? ) reaction to a real, palpable and – in our case – carried out menace still seeking to fester, duplicate, and harm some more. The Muslim people must – in their wisdom, which is great – be able to understand this, and first
take stiff and public measures vs. those amongst them who hold the stated view ( i.e. the U.S. is the grand satan.)

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Your Name

posted September 22, 2010 at 11:14 am

“Ever heard of the First Baptist Church of Mecca?”
Mecca is not America. Mecca does not ‘promise’ freedom of religion to all its citizens. America does. Then it sh!ts on that ‘promise’.

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Your Name

posted September 22, 2010 at 11:16 am

“Build your mosque, just don’t build it there!”
We might take your advice if only ‘you’ hadn’t torched the mosque in Tennessee.
Could someone on the anti-equality side please tell us exactly how far from “Ground Zero” actually IS acceptable?

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Robert C

posted September 22, 2010 at 12:46 pm

Well certainly not a site that parts of one of the airplanes, including the engine, landed.

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posted September 27, 2010 at 12:50 am

I believe that Saudi Arabia is the only Arab country that doesn’t allow other religions to build houses of worship. There has been a Synagogue recently built in Lebanon and in Qatar the government recently built 4 churches for it’s Christian citizens and workers. No one can answer how far away is ok. But let’s forget that there was a mosque in the World Trade Center and it was itself designed after the Grand Mosque at Mecca. According to Minoru Yamasaki, the architect, he intended it to be the financial mecca of the world with the towers being like minarets.

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