Cordoba House – Religious Expression or gross insult?

Surly by now you have heard about the proposal to construct an Islamic Mosque and cultural center near to the Ground Zero site in New York City. The proposal has passed a litany of hurdles already, and garnered the approval of both Mayor Michael Bloomburg and President Obama. Yet, many still have strong emotions and feelings against such a structure citing its lack of sensitivity to the catastrophe that took place there.

9/11 Families for a Safe & Strong America say of proposed Cordoba House that “a gross insult to the memory of those who were killed on that terrible day.’’ Yet, the proposed project was endorsed by Community Board No. 1 in lower Manhattan by a near unanimous vote in May.

This situation seems to necessitate me, as a Freemason, to look at it from the point of view of Anderson’s Constitution.

Anderson says:

But though in ancient times Masons were charg’d in every Country to be of the Religion of that Country or Nation, whatever it was, yet ’tis now thought more expedient only to oblige them to that Religion in which all Men agree, leaving their particular Opinions to themselves; that is, to be good Men and true, or Men of Honour and Honesty, by whatever Denominations or Persuasions they may be distinguish’d; whereby Masonry becomes the Center of Union, and the Means of conciliating true Friendship among Persons that must have remain’d at a perpetual Distance.

In the present context, the religion of the country is at first a challenge to find consensus, most would say that the U.S. is a Christian country. But, this becomes less the issue when we look at the Bill of Rights and the First amendment that says:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;

But this doesn’t tackle the issue of respect towards others feelings towards the proximity of the place of worship to the hallowed ground of 9/11.

It seems that this would be an excellent opportunity (Masonic or otherwise) for other faiths to partner and remold the idea of the Cordoba House into a place of Interfaith union.

This is a far stretch from its original intent of improving Muslim Relations with the West (which is off to a rough foot so close to Ground Zero) but in creating an interfaith temple it would provide a means to interact with all faith groups, to interact with the hallowed space of ground zero, and still be a focused point in the community to engage and broaden relationships, not just with Islamic groups and the west, but with all groups.

Truly, this would be a Historic Narrative.

In the mean time, the debate on the project goes on, and voices from both sides of the argument insist on being heard going so far as to demand the Federal government block the proposed construction because of its proximity to the site (never mind that there is a strip club a mere three blocks away). From Sarah Palin on Facebook to 40 prominnent Religious Leaders supporting its construction, lots of voices vying to be heard. At the heart of the matter is the construction of a Islamic temple in such close proximity to a site attacked in the name of Islam.

Is the opposition to Cordoba House just opposition to religious freedom, or is it more specific to opposition to the Muslim temple itself? Is it a gross insult to place it so close to Ground Zero, or should alternatives be considered?  As a Freemason, can we apply the ideas of Anderson and look at it from the perspective of the ‘Religion in which all Men agree’ and allow religious freedom to dictate?

As a Freemason, can we apply the ideas of Anderson and look at it from the perspective of the ‘Religion in which all Men agree’ and allow religious freedom to dictate?
Posted in Masonic Traveler and tagged .

A devoted student of the Western Mystery Traditions, Greg is a firm believer in the Masonic connections to the Hermetic traditions of antiquity, its evolution through the ages and into its present configuration as the antecedent to all contemporary esoteric and occult traditions. He is a self-called searcher for that which was lost, a Hermetic Hermit and a believer in “that which is above is so too below.” Read more about Greg Stewart.


  1. Tje Cordoba House will become a shinning beacon to the muslim world that America and the west have been defeated. Islam has a history of building edifices over the ruins of local churches, not as an attempt to take advantage of the sacredness of the area, but as an example of islamic superiority. I refer you to the works of Bat Ye’or, Robert Spencer and a host of others who have documented this trend. Hagia Sophia in Cobstantinople/Istanbul is a prime example as was the original Cordoba mosque in Spain which reflected this “conquest by supplanting”.

  2. Regarding the “Mosque” in Manhattan: This building will not be just a mosque it will be a meeting hall, school rooms, cafeteria, etc. It will look just like any other skyscraper in Manhattan. It is not at “Ground Zero” but at least two blocks away. These people have met and worshiped in that area for the past 30 years. There is NO valid reason to deny their wish to build what is essentially a YMCA for Muslims. Let’s not have the great fraternity of Masonry despoiled by negativism against others.

  3. I agree fully with Jean-Henri.
    Besides, whether it’s seen that I’ve given in to mass-hysteria or not, the action only inflames the tensions of our collective nation. That’s not a good position for a ‘religion of peace’ to take. No PR or marketing person would advise that an institution and/or brand proceed with such plans if it’s intent is to be regarded as respectful.
    Not only that, I’d feel slightly more benign to the project if the same investors were to petition the religious theocracies of the Middle East to allow Christian churches to freely and openly exercise their faiths and construct their edifices in those countries. Yet, they haven’t, but still expect to have carte-blanche here, in America.
    Such entities and personalities aren’t wise,… or are they?

  4. The Muslim religion is agressive relion and I don’t think that I have to give you to many example to prove this. Just se what the Muslim are doing every where in the Western hemisphere, even in teir own country.
    Saying this I don’t want to think that I’m anti Muslim and with prejudice, just a person who has lot of experiance with them, since I came from coutry where we have many Muslims and many of Minarets and Mosques hanging all over the coutry.
    It’s definitly a sham for USA that they are getting permit to build a Mosque near Ground 0 with probably high Minaret reasambling as a Air plain.
    As a long time mason and past master of different Masonic body’s spiking this with out of prejudice I will strongly oppose to this Muslim masquerades.
    This is nothing to do with masonry and nothing to do with religion. Don’t be blind!

    Velimir Balta

  5. (never mind that there is a strip club a mere three blocks away)

    I’m sorry – did I miss the Truther videos about the dozen strippers who commandeered a couple of passenger jets and few them into the remaining buildings?

    This is one of those situations that sorely tries the patience and understanding of normal people. One one hand, we all want to support religious tolerance. On the other hand, the owners of the temple are either naive, or calculatingly devious; of course there would be a huge public to-do about any Islamic building being erected within a mile of the former WTC site. How could anyone live in this country – especially in NYC – and not be sensitive to the cultural vibe?

    Personally, I’ll think it’s a good idea just as soon as the Coptic Christians are allowed to put up a cathedral in Mecca.

  6. It seems to me, that the suggestion of a Interfaith union would resolve this issue. What era was the Islamic religion any more aggressive then other religions of the world. There has been a lot of wrong done by men in the name of religion or God. That being said, I do how ever feel that the community center be moved. I think at this point it will be a problem if completed, as long as it is there. I only pray, that we can continue to talk, and work towards the good of mankind in all religions.

  7. The landing gear of one of the planes came crashing through the roof of the Burlington Coat Factory on 9/11, piercing through two floors and coming to rest under a blanket of incinerated human ash. To deny this building’s characterization as part of Ground Zero is insideous. Do devout practioners pray at this location currently? Yes, without a certificate of occupancy. Try that with any other structure in Manhattan. Does ConEd, which currently still owns 1/2 of the proposed structure known as either the “Ground Zero Mosque”, “the Cordoba Initiative”, “Park51”? Now, it’s bad enough that Bloomberg and company bulldoze opposition at lightening speed, but it’s totally understandable since Bloomberg LLC expanding is its financial center to a regional hub in Dubai
    Interestingly, Bin Laden/Al Qaeda Funding Ground Zero Mosque Imam Rauf while FoxNews recently revealed Company Bidding to Help Manage Ground Zero Tower Has Arab Ties. In essence, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey are selling ‘management’ authority over the WTC re-development to Arab interests. How’s that work towards reconciliation and bridge building?
    Well, continuing with imposition of sharia standards:
    1. In recent negotiations, the Port Authority NYNJ cut the size of the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, the only church destroyed in this act of war cut it’s size slightly and told church officials that its dome could not rise higher than the trade center memorial. Since then, the PANYNJ have decided to not permit this church to rebuild at all. Really now, how is possible for this church to construct it’s dome no higher than the memorial which is 70 feet below grade? Of course this church would be denied permission to rebuild under sharia in a muslim country – but a thirteen-story mega-mosque dedicated on the tenth anniversary of this act of war? Fine!
    Then there’s the issue of muslims congregating for prayer in the area for many years. Does that make them ‘moderate’? Consider the example set by the other mosque near Ground Zero: Masjid Manhattan <q cite=". . .displayed a banner on its website stating: Build the “House of Allah” next to the World Trade Center ! Help us raise he flag of “LA ILLAHA ILLA ALLAH” !
    Then take the five daily prayers . . .
    via Robert Spencer’s “Blogging the Koran” :
    <q cite="The Fatiha (Opening) is the first sura (chapter) of the Qur’an and most common prayer of Islam. If you’re a pious Muslim who prays the five requisite daily prayers of Islam, you will recite the Fatiha seventeen times in the course of those prayers.
    From Wafa Sultan’s book “A God Who Hates” pg. 168:
    <q cite=“A Muslim prays five times a day, and on each occasion he recites the Fatiha, the first verse of the Koran, a number of times. This verse describes Christians as “those who have gone astray” and Jews as “those who have incurred Your wrath.” We see from this that Muslims ‘execrate’ Christians and Jews a number of times in the course of a single prayer, which they repeat five times a day.

    ‘execrate’ – an enlightening term . . .let’s explore, shall we?
    <q cite="execrate” –verb
    1. to detest utterly; abhor; abominate.
    2. to curse; imprecate evil upon; damn; denounce:
    He execrated all who opposed him.
    No mosque – anywhere, in which the call to prayer takes place, and in which congregants chant the fatiha – is interested in building bridges or extending tolerance. They are however fully intent on gaining exceptional degrees of tolerance from all non-believers. When it comes to Islam, tolerance is a one way street. Believe it or else.

  8. 1. Zoning is the responsibility of the city, not the Feds.
    2. More than 300 Muslims died in the 9_11 event.
    3. The property is owned by the Muslim Community that wants to create this center.
    4. The “radical” Imam trying to exercise his legal rights in this project was an advisor to the Bush White House, and the State Department.
    5. Masonically, we are called to fight for absolute freedom of conscience in matters of religion.
    Those calling for Federal intervention in this matter, hypothetically call for no Federal interference in local affairs except when it sits them.
    This isn’t militant Islam trying to conquer anything. It’s honest Americans trying to provide a facility for the benefit of all of us.
    The Prayer of good people works to the good of all; facilities for guiding youth will help us all.

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