Ground Zero Mosque: Approve or disapprove? Wayne Baker is back! He’s been traveling a bit this summer. Today, he returns and writes about a central concern in American life. Please, add a “Comment” today to help restart the ongoing conversation in this new series!

The planned Muslim community center several blocks from the 9/11 site, called by some the Ground Zero Mosque, is a red hot topic. It’s flared many times during my time traveling these past weeks. I get a daily Google alert for any item containing the phrase “our values” and this topic has hit the top of the list day after day, with both opponents and supporters referring to “our values” to make their arguments.

Supporters say it represents religious freedom, tolerance, and diversity. Opponents (like the people at the rally in today’s photo) say it desecrates the hallowed ground of the World Trade Center attacks. This week on, we’ll discuss the proposed community center and what the debate says about our values.

Before we get too far, tell us: Whose side are you on? Do you support or oppose the project? Why? Please, click the “Comment” link below and express yourself.

Today  let’s start with how the organizers describe the project now known as Park51, a reference to its address in New York City. Here’s their vision, according to their web site:

Park51 will be dedicated to pluralism, service, arts and culture, education and empowerment, appreciation for our city and a deep respect for our planet. Park51 will join New York to the world, offering a welcoming community center with multiple points of entry. With world-class facilities, a global scope and strong local roots, Park 51 will offer a friendly and accessible platform for conversations across our identities.

Their mission statement includes several points. Here are the top four, also from their web site:


  • Uphold respect for the diversity of expression and ideas between all people
  • Cultivate and embrace neighborly relations between all New Yorkers, fostering a spirit of civic participation and an awareness of common needs and opportunities
  • Encourage open discussion and dialogue on issues of relevance to New Yorkers, Americans and the international reality of our interconnected planet
  • Revive the historic Muslim tradition of education, engagement and service, becoming a resource for empowerment and advancement  


When you read the vision and mission, what does it stir in you? Does it strengthen your support of the project? Or, does it strengthen your opposition?

Please, click the “Comment” link before you go. And, for more on this topic, read what David and Benjamin Crumm are hearing on their road trip around the country.

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