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Faith Groups’ Response to the New York Islamic Center Debate (2010)

Document type:
Report

    Faith Groups’ Response to the New York Islamic Center Debate (2010)

    Commentary

    Despite its label as the “Ground Zero Mosque,” the planned Park51 community center is neither a mosque, nor is it located at the site of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Instead, the building’s planners insist that the center is open to people of all faiths, and will be located on a site that has been used as a place for Muslims to pray and worship for decades. Indeed, there are currently two other mosques within several blocks of the planned Park51 center. Though the initial announcement of the project attracted little national attention, within a year an outspoken opposition grew. Critics labeled the center a “victory mosque” meant to mark the “conquered” territory of the former site of the Twin Towers.

    The ensuing public debate raised fundamental questions about the First Amendment, and illustrated trends among voters regarding the rights of religious minorities. In the Gallup poll reproduced below, over 1,700 respondents were asked their opinion about how best to resolve the situation. They were given the choice of finding a new location, finishing the project against the wishes of the opposition, or changing the center to “an interfaith institution sponsored and owned by a coalition of religious groups.” Muslims, members of other non-Christian faiths, and those professing no religious affiliation supported keeping Park51 as it was originally planned, or at least making it more of an interfaith endeavor. Most Christians and Jews, however, supported either moving the center to another location or changing its affiliation and goals. Interestingly, Mormons and Roman Catholics—two groups which have also experienced discrimination—showed the least amount of support for keeping the original plans for Park51. Further complicating the matter is the fact that while opponents may agree on relocating the mosque, there is no consensus on an acceptable alternative.

    What, in your opinion, is the best way to resolve the current disagreement over the proposed location of the Islamic center?

    Find another location (percentage) Build on the proposed location (percentage) Change to an interfaith institution (percentage)
    Muslim 14% 43% 30%
    Other non-Christian 24% 41% 29%
    No religion/atheist/agnostic 32% 42% 17%
    Jewish 43% 25% 28%
    Roman Catholic 63% 15% 15%
    Mormon/Latter Day Saints 62% 20% 12%
    Protestant/Other Christian 49% 18% 23%
    Oct. 5–21, 2010 
    Adapted from “Faith Groups Split on Resolution to N.Y. Islamic Center Debate.” Gallup, 2010. http://www.gallup.com/poll/144314/Faith-Groups-Split-Best-Resolution-Islamic-Center-Debate.aspx

    What, in your opinion, is the best way to resolve the current disagreement over the proposed location of the Islamic center?

    Find another location (percentage) Build on the proposed location (percentage) Change to an interfaith institution (percentage)
    Muslim 14% 43% 30%
    Other non-Christian 24% 41% 29%
    No religion/atheist/agnostic 32% 42% 17%
    Jewish 43% 25% 28%
    Roman Catholic 63% 15% 15%
    Mormon/Latter Day Saints 62% 20% 12%
    Protestant/Other Christian 49% 18% 23%
    Oct. 5–21, 2010 
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