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Your Views: Being American, Christian should be about tolerance
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After reading Jim Scharnagel's letter, "There is no way to justify mosque at ground zero," I felt compelled to reply. In short, Scharnagel is against the building of the ground zero mosque. He goes on to insinuate that Muslims in this country are a threat and should be deported, and future immigration of Muslims prohibited.

First we should get some things straight about the "ground zero mosque." Lower Manhattan is so small and densely populated that putting something two blocks away there is like putting things 20 miles apart in North Georgia. Property in lower Manhattan doesn't come on the market very often so people can't be too choosy about location.

Also, it is planned to be a community center with a day care, swimming pool, fitness center, culinary school, basketball court and art gallery, with a mosque included. It's not a giant mosque, and even if it were, the people behind this are not the terrorists who attacked us.

Saying Muslims can't build a mosque there is like saying a Christian church can't be built in Uganda because an army of Christians there massacred people. Of course, people would say those weren't real Christians. Well, most Muslims say the 9/11 terrorists weren't real Muslims.

To be direct, I'm an atheist. Jesus, Allah, or God are about as real to me as Santa Claus, Zeus or a future tax cut. From my observation there are good people and bad people in all religions. With that said, as naive as I think belief in the supernatural is, I can't sit by silently and watch as people rally to violate the freedom of religion of others.

Muslim Americans have every right to practice their faith. Scharnagel called the officials who support the mosque un-American. Am I the only one who read the irony in that statement? How is standing up for religious freedom un-American?

Scharnagel believes that if a majority of Americans are against the mosque, then it should be stopped. Since when are our Constitutional rights subject to public whim? Shall the majority whim away free speech or our right to bear arms as well? We can't ignore the Constitution because doing so pleases our emotions or is convenient.

Perhaps worse is how many politicians and pundits are trying to stir up hate and anger over this. How low will they stoop to pander for votes and sell articles with emotional pleas that ignore justice, freedom, and equality under the law?

As an outsider to religion, watching this in the media makes it appear as if each group's faith is just a tool to be used in a political game for power. Believers tell me religion is about living good lives and loving each other. That's not what I see when politics and religion mesh.

We only get as much freedom as we are willing to give. I would ask Christians to voice support for freedom of religion for all faiths and not just a freedom to express Christianity.

Brandon Givens
Gainesville

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