Earlier I commented briefly on the nonsensical protests against the construction of a mosque several blocks from Ground Zero. Now, according to a post today by Richard Bartholomew, a Controversial Preacher Seeks to Establish “Outreach Center” Near Ground Zero. The controversial preacher is Bill Keller, who is planning to build an anti-Muslim “9/11 Christian Center at Ground Zero.”
Bartholomew quotes a news story in the Pentecostal/Charismatic magazine Charisma, Christian Center to Open Near Proposed Ground Zero Mosque by Adrienne S. Gaines, Tuesday, July 13, 2010, That news story is followed by a bunch of comments, including the following from New Yorkers:
Comment #4, by Derek Jager:
As I New Yorker, I have to wonder what people are “afraid of”–are they worried that future tourists to the WTC site will accidentally wander into the mosque and become radicalized Islamic terrorists?
And as for Keller’s desire for a Christian center near Ground Zero, there IS already a famous Christian Chapel literally across the street from the WTC site — it is the oldest surviving church building in New York. The church itself is a couple blocks away on Wall Street.
And Keller’s church name– “The 9/11 Christian Center at Ground Zero,” which is very distasteful.
Comment #5, by Connie Dobbs:
As a new yorker, I just have to ask: which one is worse? Answer: Neither. Sharia law and the biblical law that these fundamentalists practice are pretty much one and the same, except for one of the two allows pork to be eaten (actually, it doesn’t, but the christians like bacon too much)
At least they’ll be down near ground zero where the only people around that the christians and muslims can bother will be tourists, stockbrokers, and each other.
Comment #6, from Derek Jager again, replying to Connie Dobbs:
LOL–that’s so true! Every time I make eye contact with a tourist holding a map, they ALWAYS ask, “Where is Ground Zero.”
Which is sort of sad–it was the World Trade Center site.
Bill Keller, described by Barotholomew as “an old-school fundamentalist fire-and-brimstone man,” runs an online ministry called Live Prayer. He also has a new website, full of anti-Muslim hysteria-mongering, devoted to his new 9/11 Christian Center at Ground Zero.
Richard Bartholomew concludes by saying:
Of course, Keller is a clownish publicity-seeker, and most people will find his attempt to associate himself with Ground Zero (expressed with incredible vulgarity as “THIS INCREDIBLE OPPORTUNITY!”) to be profoundly distasteful – after all, he must believe that most of those who died in the attack are now in Hell.
One wonders what those who have put so much energy into trying to persuade us that the proposed Islamic Centre should be banned as a place of hate will have to say…
Via Google, I also found the following: Birther pastor: “9/11 Christian Center” not confrontational to “the Muslims” by Justin Elliot, Salon, July 14, 2010:
Internet pastor Bill Keller doesn’t have a location for his proposed “9/11 Christian Center at Ground Zero.” He doesn’t have a staff. A Floridian, he admits he doesn’t even know anyone in New York.
But, Keller told Salon today, he intends to have the new church — his answer to the planned Muslim community center derided by some right-wingers as the “Ground Zero Mosque”– up and running by Jan. 1.
… Keller is eager to get started, so he claims he will travel to New York from Florida once a week starting in September and preach at the Embassy Suites hotel in lower Manhattan, until he finds a permanent home — or, perhaps more likely, the project fizzles.
The above post also refers to an earlier Salon post, Top Birther wants to build church to fight “Ground Zero Mosque” by Justin Elliot, Tuesday, July 13, 2010.
I also found Televangelist Counters Ground Zero Mosque with Christian Center by Nathan Black, Christian Post, reprinted in the Australian edition of the evangelical magazine Christianity Today, as Mosque near 9/11 site to be opposed by Christian centre. Nathan Black notes that “not all Christians are on the same boat as Keller,” and quotes an un-named Sojourners magazine article by Julie Clawson, author of Everyday Justice: The Global Impact of Our Daily Choices.
Meanwhile, some more posts about the fight over building the Cordoba House mosque near Ground Zero:
- Ground Zero Islamophobia by Mark Silk, BeliefNet, Wednesday July 14, 2010
- With hearings underway, Internet pastor plans Christian alternative to “Ground Zero Mosque” by Alex Pareene, Salon, Tuesday, July 13, 2010
- Cordoba House Poll: New Yorkers Oppose, Staten Islanders REALLY Oppose Mosque Near Ground Zero by Steven Thrasher, Village Voice, Thursday, July 1, 2010.
- Contrary to popular opinion, Muslims and mosques okay in Downtown by Aline Reynolds, Downtown Express, July 2 – 8, 2010.
P.S., July 16, 2010:
The Gothamist has a tongue-in-cheek story 9/11 Christian Center to Balance Out Ground Zero Mosque by John Del Signore, July 15, 2010. Earlier, the Gothamist published another tongue-in-cheek story, Watch the Anti-Mosque Ad That’s Too Hot for Networks to Air by y John Del Signore, July 14, 2010; Ground Zero Mosque Circus Rolls Over Landmark Commission, by Briana Parker, July 14, 2010; and It’s a Great Day to Rant About That Mosque Near Ground Zero! by John Del Signore, July 13, 2010.
Some other news stories about the mosque and its opponents, but not about the “9/11 Christian Center”:
- New York Times: Planned Sign of Tolerance Bringing Division Instead by Javier C. Hernandez, July 13, 2010
- New York Mazazine: Nobody Wants to Air Crazy Ad by Ground Zero Mosque Opposition by Dan Amira, July 14, 2010, and The Ground Zero Mosque Is Now a Campaign Issue by Dan Amira, July 7, 2010.
- New York Daily News: NBC, CBS decline to run mosque-bashing ad from conservative group by Bill Hutchinson, July 15, 2010, and Opponents of planned mosque near Ground Zero invited to Landmarks Preservation Commission meeting by Samuel Goldsmith, July 13, 2010.
- WCBS-TV: Landmark Status At Issue In Ground Zero Mosque War by Marcia Kramer, July 14, 2010.
- Washington Post: What if that ad attacking mosque near Ground Zero is a stunt? by Greg Sargent, July 15, 2010
As far as I can tell, no major local media consider the “9/11 Christian Center” to be newsworthy.
The blog Little Green Footballs has posts containing copies of some emails from the “National Republican Trust,” the group whose ad was rejected by two major TV networks because it blatantly equated all Muslims with the 9/11 hijackers: The National Republican Trust’s NYC Mosque Insanity and Scott Wheeler falls off the conspiracy nut tree and hits every branch on the way down.
P.S., July 16:
Another Daily News story: Cordoba House mosque near Ground Zero slaps new name on itself with Park51 by Samuel Goldsmith, July 14, 2010.
Ed Brayton has some good commentary here: The Utter Hypocrisy of the ACLJ , July 15, 2010. (The ACLJ is Pat Robertson’s “American Center for Law and Justice.”)