I am an atheist. As such, it is easy for me to worship in America, as I can do so pretty much anywhere I please. I worship in the North Woods whenever the Aurora Borealis show their face. I worship in the great Southwestern Desert when I experience true silence in the face of the enormity of the landscape. In the Northwest I worship with oceanic mist splashing up on my face from the rocks below. Sometimes I worship in my own backyard when I think about the bounty of vegetables my little plot of land in the city has offered up for me. I worship a very different God, though, than that which many of my neighbors revere.
I cannot imagine a situation where I would tell one of those neighbors, “please, don’t pray to your God here.” There is neither a physical place nor a metaphysical space where I would ever ask someone not to commune with their higher power.
I don’t understand how a person in the United States of America can “respectfully” ask another person not to worship somewhere. I, as a non-believer, can walk into any church I want and pray in my head to whatever deity I choose. Muslims can go right up to the fences surrounding ground zero and pray – I don’t think even Sarah Palin would try to stop them. What difference, exactly, is there if they choose to build a community center nearby in which to carry out their prayers and ministries?
There is no disrespect taking place here. Disrespect would be if someone were recruiting martyrs from nearby neighborhoods to brainwash them and set them loose on the populace. We’re talking about a Cultural Center and Gym. The plans even include a 9/11 memorial. How can anyone claim the people behind this project are being insensitive to the memories of the people who died?
I give up. I really can’t make a better case than Mayor Michael Bloomberg did at Governor’s Island on August 3, and thank whatever God you believe in that New York has this guy now instead of the Giulli-turd. I never really felt that connected with Bloomberg, but after this speech I’d give him a kidney. Him and any other American who makes it in before we change the 14th Amendment.
It’s about ideals, people. It’s not about commandments. It’s not about prohibitions. It’s not about arbitrary sanctions. It’s America. It’s about freedoms. Anyone who tells you different hasn’t been paying attention for the last 200 years. And it’s not just about freedom of religion; it’s about freedom of interpretation. It’s about tearing along I-80 at 120 MPH up the Donner Pass. That is when I worship my God – when said God reminds me that s/he could end me at any given moment. If the exercise of your freedoms does not impinge on anyone else’s exercise of their freedoms, you can worship or do just about anything else any damn place you want.
So the Dove World Outreach Center wants us all to burn a Koran on September 11th. How is this helpful? How a dove, the symbol of peace, can be turned into an omen, is beyond me. In fact, how the Dove Outreach Center can call itself that while the only out-reaching it is doing is to sucker-punch those of us who have compassion, is beyond me. Apparently, they’ve out-reached their welcome. I for one plan to spend this coming September 11th how I spend most Saturdays since my hours have been cut back at work – exulting in my own idleness. I’ll probably pick some tomatoes from the garden to make a BLT, maybe go for a bike ride, maybe mail a Koran to the Dove World Outreach Center. I’d like it if they read it, but I can’t stop them from using it however they see fit. It is America, after all.