The Rev. Dr.
Michael Kinnamon, a Christian Church (Disciples of
clergyman and a long-time educator and ecumenical leader, is the
ninth General Secretary of the National Council of Churches of
Christ in the USA.
The NCC is the ecumenical voice of America's Orthodox, Protestant, Anglican, historic African American, evangelical and traditional peace churches. These 36 communions have 45 million faithful members in 100,000 congregations in all 50 states.
Cordoba House and Mosque at Ground Zero
Editor's Note. Dr. Kinnamon's statement on Cordova House and Mosque at New York's Ground Zero is available to you for use and distribution as you see fit.
For thousands of families, Ground Zero in southern
That is precisely why Ground Zero must be open to the religious expression of all people whose lives were scarred by the tragedy: Christians, Jews, Sikhs, Buddhists, Hindus, and more. And Muslims.
No one knows how many Muslims died on 9/11, but they number in the
hundreds. One was Salman Hamdani, a 23-year-old
The point of this now famous story is simple. Not every Muslim at
Ground Zero was a terrorist, and not every Muslim was a hero. The
vast majority were like thousands of others on September 11: victims
of one of the most heinous events of our times.
But for the family of Salman Hamdani and millions of innocent
Muslims, the tragedy has been exacerbated by the fact that so many
of the rest of us have formed our opinions about them out of
prejudice and ignorance of the Muslim faith.
It is that narrow-minded intolerance that has led to the outcry
against the building of Cordoba House and Mosque near Ground Zero.
It is the same ignorance that has led many to the outrageous
conclusion that all Muslims advocate hatred and violence against
non-Muslims. It is the same ignorance that has led to hate crimes
and systematic discrimination against Muslims, and to calls to burn
On the eve of Ramadan on August 11, the National Council of
Churches, its Interfaith Relations Commission and Christian
participants in the National Muslim-Christian Initiative, issued a
strong call for respect for our Muslim neighbors.
“Christ calls us to ‘love your neighbor as yourself’ (Matthew
22:39,” the statement said. “It is this commandment, more than the
simple bonds of our common humanity, which is the basis for our
relationship with Muslims around the world.”
The statement supported building Cordoba House “as a living monument
to mark the tragedy of 9/11 through a community center dedicated to
learning, compassion, and respect for all people.”
Now the National Council of Churches reaffirms that support and
calls upon Christians and people of faith to join us in that
The alternative to that support is to engage in a bigotry that will
scar our generation in the same way as bigotry scarred our
Three-hundred years ago, European settlers came to these shores with
a determination to conquer and settle at the expense of millions of
indigenous peoples who were regarded as sub-human savages. Today, we
can’t look back on that history without painful contrition.
One-hundred and fifty years ago, white Americans subjugated black
Africans in a cruel slavery that was justified with Bible
proof-texts and a belief that blacks were inferior to whites. Today,
we look back on that history with agonized disbelief.
Sixty years ago, in a time of war and great fear, tens of thousands
of Japanese-Americans were deprived of their property and forced
into detention camps because our grandparents feared everyone of
Japanese ancestry. Today that decision is universally regarded as an
unconscionable mistake and a blot on American history.
Today, millions of Muslims are subjected to thoughtless
generalizations, open discrimination and outright hostility because
of the actions of a tiny minority whose violent acts defy the
teachings of Mohammed.
How will we explain our ignorance and our compliance to our
It’s time to turn away from ignorance and embrace again the words of
Christ: Love your neighbor as yourself.
In that spirit, we welcome the building of Cordoba House and Mosque near Ground Zero.
National Council of Churches
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