This past week, our country has seen two separate victories, in policy and politics, for tolerance and the separation of church and state. California's Proposition 8, which banned gay marriage was overturned in federal court. The proposed mosque (which is really a cultural center with a space for prayers) at Ground Zero (which is really several blocks away) has avoided major roadblocks and garnered the support of New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg.
To some, both of these items are good news. While very different issues are at stake in each case, they are both examples of the government saying, we will not legislate religion. In the case of Prop 8, the judge who ruled it unconstitutional did not declare that gay marriage is right or wrong; he declared that denying marriage to homosexual individuals harms those individuals, and that granting the same harms neither heterosexual people nor the institution of marriage. (This would seem to be a "duh" statement, but hey, some people need it spelled out.)
Similarly, those supporting the right to build an Islamic center are not necessarily defending Islam (though many are), but the right of a religious organization to go about its business without government interference. It's also a reminder that we can't decide by popular vote which religions are allowed and which are not.
To others, of course, these decisions are tragedies. In both cases, people on the right are essentially lamenting the same thing. "The gays are trying to force their gross gayness on the rest of us! The Muslims are trying to force their gross Islam on the rest of us!" The first statement barely deserves a reply, except for this video:
“As a mother and a grandmother, I worry,” Ms. Serafin said. “I learned that in 20 years with the rate of the birth population, we will be overtaken by Islam, and their goal is to get people in Congress and the Supreme Court to see that Shariah is implemented. My children and grandchildren will have to live under that.”
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