As noted here yesterday, the First Amendment scholar Charles C. Haynes has said that the rising "anti-mosque rhetoric," is reminiscent of other periods in the country when disfavored religious groups were the victims of intolerance - Haynes notes, for instance, anti-Catholicism that festered throughout the nation during the 19th Century.
In a recent column for The Washington Post website's "On Faith," Haynes writes:
Since 9/11, demonization of Islam has become a cottage industry in America, aided and abetted by some evangelical leaders and a growing number of politicians. Much like the anti-Catholic hysteria of the 19th century, the current outbreak of Islamophobia is based on the paranoid fantasy that Islam in America is a threat to democracy and freedom.
Haynes, the First Amendment Center's senior scholar and director of the Newseum's Religious Freedom Education Project, adds that what is truly at stake is the nation's commitment to religious freedom, for all:
It's time for people of conscience to look beyond what's happening in Manhattan and pay closer attention to the growing anti-mosque movement around the nation. Although extreme voices now dominate the debate in many local communities, I am hopeful that most Americans will have the courage to stand up for their Muslim neighbors and fellow citizens by speaking out for religious freedom.
Hamilton, a law professor at Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, writes:
Sadly, the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) and the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) have each made an exception to their usual full-throated defense of religious interests, and publicly come out against the mosque proposal. The ACLJ joined the conservative commentators, like Sarah Palin, who have tried to transform this land- use application into a way of energizing the base over terrorism. Yet, the only apparent connection between the application and 9/11 is their co-residence in the wide universe of Islamicism. It's like saying that Jim Jones's Peoples Temple Christian Church Full Gospel, which resulted in the largest mass suicide in history, was Christian. The two groups have thus turned this into an instance of identity politics, rather than any kind of sincere honoring of America's war dead.