Earlier this month, just as the right-wing anti-mosque hysteria was getting whipped up, Focus on the Family posted a video in which Stuart Shepard and Bruce Hausknecht complained about how municipalities were discriminating against churches using zoning laws:
Shepard: What does this tell us about the state of religious freedom in the United States?
Hausknecht: Well, we’re seeing first a hostility toward religion. You would think in this day and age of tolerance that there would be tolerance for religious views, religious people. There is not. We’re seeing it in the zoning cases, we’re seeing it in the schools. That is a definite wake-up call for people of all faiths to stand up and protect their rights.
At the time, Focus was one of the few Religious Right groups that had not yet taken a position on Park 51, so I wondered if the organization would defend the right of Muslims to build the Islamic Center, especially in light of the organization’s plea for “people of all faiths” to wake up and protect their religious freedoms.
So I know it will come as a shock to you all to learn that Focus’ concerns for the rights of “people of all faiths” does not, in fact, apply to Muslims:
During CitizenLink’s weekly webcast, Tom Minnery said, “Nobody is suggesting that the brand of Islam practiced by the owners of this mosque [is] going to lead to more terrorist attacks. But for Heaven’s sake, in the name of all that is decent and in the name of common sense, build it elsewhere.”
He said the group had the right to build, but he questioned the prudence of doing so. “Is it dishonoring to the 3,000 people who gave their lives to have this mosque which, in some minds, represents a similar religious belief that caused the terrorists to do what they did?” said Minnery.
Stuart Shepard, host of the webcast, noted that this position is a departure from Minnery’s previous positions on religious liberty.
“You have spent a lot of time talking about religious freedom. And you work for Alliance Defense Fund quite a bit helping them fight for the rights of people, for religious freedom. It is quite a turn for you to say that this is not the right location for religious freedom to be expressed,” said Shepard.
“Well, it is indeed,” said Minnery.