Bigoted Pastor Starts Ground Zero Church

So here’s a conundrum: the Park51 Community Center, a multicultural initiative dedicated, as Jessica Pieklo pointed out a few weeks ago, to “promoting intercultural communication, trust and tolerance,” has whipped up a media frenzy, threatened to become an issue in the November midterm elections, and inspired hate-filled protests.  Meanwhile, on the same “hallowed ground” near the Ground Zero site, a pastor will begin preaching this coming Sunday, in advance of finding permanent space for the “9/11 Christian Center.”  There has been no controversy – in fact, very few people seem to know that he’s there.

Pastor Bill Keller is, however, far more controversial than Park51′s moderate imam, who often argues that American democracy is a representation of the ideal Islamic society.  Clicking around Keller’s website reveals a host of incredibly problematic views, from the assertion that “Islam is a wonderful religion…for PEDOPHILES!” to openly connecting anyone associated with Islam to extremist Muslim terrorist organizations.  But there’s more.  Salon reporter Justin Elliott dug up more astonishingly offensive background information on Keller.  Elliott writes,

“Keller is the same pastor who hosted a birther infomercial that encouraged viewers to send him and a partner donations to advance the birther cause. His Internet ministry explicitly calls President Obama the new Hitler. He calls homosexuality a perversion. And in 2008, he targeted presidential contender Mitt Romney for being Mormon with a campaign called ‘voting for Satan.’”

So, as Elliott asks, where’s the outrage?  Where are the protests against Keller’s sermons?  Why aren’t journalists contacting families impacted by the 9/11 attacks, asking them if they support Keller’s choice to build a church commemorating their losses?  Why is Park51, a peaceful, multicultural initiative, more worthy of our anger than Keller, who seems to be out to offend as many people as possible?  Certainly Keller has the right to build whatever he wants, just as the Park51 founders do, but if anything is going to be a political issue, why not this?

This is yet another clear illustration of two basic facts: that most people don’t understand Islam, and have trouble separating violent, dissident Muslim extremists from the vast majority of people who follow Islam, and that most people also still think of the United States as a Protestant country, so that when we read about someone like Keller, he may sound crazy, but at least he’s our crazy. 

The xenophobia and religious bigotry surrounding the Park51 controversy is only exacerbated by the fact that Keller’s presence seems to be so unremarkable.

Photo from Flickr.


bob m.
bob m6 years ago

Sakib.. I'm not debating ...just stating the truth if you can't deal with it without filtering it through the quran .. that 's your problem.
I believe the islamic account of Jesus is a twisted deceitful concoction.... sadly many you perhaps will not find that out till it's too late. 1 John 2: 22,23.
God Loves you Sakib; The Blood of the Lamb a free Gift... refuse it to your eternal sorrow.
Just ask the God of Abraham , Isaac and Jacob if I lie .
Let God be true and every man a liar.....ASK.

Sakib H.
Sakib H7 years ago

@ bob m: if we can't even discuss the fundamentals upon which our discourse shall be based then you aren't worth debating for.

Why are you giving me quotes from the bible when the bible is not the yardstick by which I understand Jesus' message?

bob m.
bob m7 years ago

I only postulated One question and am not the one going in circles.
I'm not seeking to be educated nor am I doubtful as to my beliefs needing correction; SO If you cannot but spin and twist as to the One Who is Lord and said; I Am the Gate through Whom you can enter to the Father.
He and no other; then I realize that another con game is in progress and you cannot respond directly.
Moving on.
As to your comment re: Christianity or islam; another gaseous
Comedy on the abstract scale (dark) might be your calling.
I'm sure many institutions of higher useful idiocy would love to engage.

Sakib H.
Sakib H7 years ago

@bob m: there are more fundamental questions to ask than that. This is not an article about Christianity or Islam so I prefer to keep this personal. Ask me as many questions as you like. First of all I'd like to establish some foundations of discussion before we start answering questions if that is okay with you otherwise we will end up going in circles.

bob m.
bob m7 years ago

Sakib H. A fundamental question.
Is Jesus a liar?
Amongst the many things He said was;
"I am the Way, the Life and the Truth".
He that denieth the Father and the Son is a liar and the truth is not in him.
He is antichrist.
I think I hear walls collapsing, a house of cards and shadows falling.
I believe I hear the Horns of Glory .

Jewels S.
Jewels S7 years ago

This is comparing apples and oranges. He is just talking and protesting. Has he ever said everyone who doesn't follow him should die?

Martha Eberle
Martha Eberle7 years ago

My question is: why does the media give nuts like Keller a forum? Ignore him.

I'm ready to leave this crazy country. I have fought for justice for 55 of my 65 years, but my beloved country is being overrun by uneducated nuts who think christianity is our national religion. We left England because of that problem. I'm tired and disheartened.

And excuse me, but if the 9/11 site is such a sacred place for Americans, why hasn't a memorial been built there, after 9 years!!

Carolee W.
Carolee Wood7 years ago

Bigotry hurts everyone, including the bigot.

It is time to stop using 9/11 for crazy rants.

Sakib H.
Sakib H7 years ago

@jack t. You still havent answered the fundamental question. Why teach one to dance if they cant walk eh?

Another question: how many conditions are there for one to be punished for leaving islam for it's considered treason? It's not always treason. Do some research please

Jack T.
Jack T7 years ago

Sakib: " I don't see why treason is suddenly demonised when a Muslim does it."

So I guess under Sharia law it is treason to change your religion from Islam, for a woman to commit adultery, to be gay etc. etc. etc.!