Holier-Than-Thou Land


As president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, Dr. Richard Land is an influential opponent of the Cordoba House project in New York. But when he’s not speaking on behalf of one of the most powerful religious bodies in the country, Land has a second — some would say ironic — ecumenical role: member of the federally created United States Commission on International Religious Freedom [appointed by George W. Bush].

In his role as a commissioner, Land’s job is to press for a U.S. foreign policy that advances religious freedoms around the world. Reached by phone today, Land maintained that there is no contradiction between his service on the Commission and his efforts to see the Cordoba House Islamic cultural center project moved farther north in Manhattan.

Original DVD cover

Furthermore, Land says, religious people in many foreign countries — the countries the commission is most concerned with — suffer far greater opposition than do the sponsors and supporters of the Cordoba House project. “They would envy and relish the opportunity to have the peaceful debate over the mosque in the near vicinity of Ground Zero,” he says.

Land insists that his opposition to the Cordoba House project is principled — that he would and has opposed similar efforts when they upset local populations.

“There is a Japanese Shinto shine, I am told, blocks from the USS Arizona,” Land said. “That isn’t appropriate even 60 years later. Three-thousand Americans died there and they died at the hands of people acitng on behalf of the Japanese Empire.”

There isn’t, in fact, a Shinto shrine near Pearl Harbor, though many conservatives use this hypothetical as an example of a non-Muslim shrine they’d oppose for similar reasons. Rush Limbaugh used the same example, though he mistakenly referred to it as a “Hindu temple.”


Land said he’s not worried in the slightest that his position on Cordoba House might come back to haunt him in the future if a church he supports runs into local opposition, and argued that the principles supporting his opposition to the project cut both ways.


What’s a good remedy? Echoing one of the earliest and fiercest opponents of the Cordoba House project, Pamela Geller, Land said the Mosque Exclusion Zone need only extend a few hundred feet. “My position on the Mosque is that they should move it two or three blocks further north.”


Pamela Geller, one of the most prominent opponents of the proposed Islamic center two blocks from the former World Trade Center, said today in an interview the treatment of the “South Park” creators is a prominent factor in her quest to stop the center from being built.

Geller, author of the book, The Obama Administration’s War on America, is the force behind the anti-Muslim group Stop Islamization of America and the Atlas Shrugs blog but insists her opposition to the Islamic center is not racist or bigoted. “It’s a common decency issue,” she said.


Geller tried to articulate her position on what critics have dubbed the “Ground Zero Mosque” by saying that interfaith understanding is a “two-way street” and citing what she believes are problems within the Islamic faith.

Her most prominent example was the death threats made to the Danish cartoonist who depicted Mohammed, and the subsequent controversy over “South Park” creators trying to show Mohammed on their Comedy Central show.


She also thinks it is not a fair comparison between the proposed center and the 92nd Street Y because “anyone could walk into a church or synagogue but non-Muslims can’t pray in a mosque.”

Geller argues the building where the Cordoba House is sacred because it was hit by landing gear on Sept. 11, 2001, and doesn’t buy arguments about some of the more seedy buildings in the area desecrating the memory of those killed nine years ago.

“Strip clubs didn’t bring down the towers. It’s faulty logic,” Geller told TPM.


She described herself as a “human rights activist” and said she has made a name for herself helping Muslim women seek “safe haven” in the wake of an increase in honor killings. She said among them is a teenage girl of Sri Lankan origin, Fathima Rifqa Bary, who converted to Christianity in junior high school, ran off with a college student who aspired to be a pastor and eventually settled with a minister and his wife in Florida who didn’t inform police that she had been found for two weeks. In an effort to stay in Florida, Bary told authorities she feared her parents would kill her; authorities in Ohio and Florida found no evidence to support her claims.


She also cited the actress from the “Harry Potter” series who was beaten by her father and brother because they did not approve of her relationship with a Hindu man. (Don’t forget, Geller is responsible for the New York City bus campaign urging people to leave Islam.)


She considers the proposed Cordoba House as not “near Ground Zero,” as most people characterize Park Place, two blocks away from where the World Trade Center once stood, but as being part of Ground Zero. Landing gear from the planes which struck the twin towers damaged the building.


“It was part of the attack, it was hit by a piece of the plane,” Geller said.

She claims that Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf is not a “secular” Muslim and believes he has radical ideas. She said disagreed with President Bush’s administration for sending Rauf abroad, and protested the decision at the time. Geller said she believes Rauf said one thing in the United States and was telling the Arabic press he does not agree with interfaith dialogue. She also opposes the mosque within the Pentagon.

Geller also takes issue with the Cordoba House name, saying she finds it “deeply troubling” given its its historical significance. In 711, when Spain was controlled by Visigoths, Moorish armies conquered the city after the death of the Visigoth king and ruled for nearly 800 years. The city is a UNESCO World Heritage site and was considered a cultural and intellectual center of its time.


She also claims “many 9/11 families support me,” although we’ve found very few taking public positions and just as many groups supporting the Islamic center as opposing it.


Geller several times said it was “insulting” to Americans who feel passionately about the issue to say she had anything to do with pushing it, even though she organized the first protest and has been one of the most prominent opponents on television. “It’s elitist that people are crediting me with the opposition, as if without me people would be down with it,” Geller said.


She added, “You’re not going to make this about me.”


Filed under 9/11, Barack Obama, Chimpy, Christianity, George W. Bush, humor, Islam, movies, parody, Pentagon, politics, religion, Republicans, Rush Limbaugh, September 11, snark, Wordpress Political Blogs

38 responses to “Holier-Than-Thou Land

  1. For those who don’t know, I would like to define the term “Ground Zero.” It’s not new to 9/11 … it means the exact location where an event is centered.

    Rather by definition, a place two blocks away cannot be “part of ground zero.”

    I know that I’m nit-picking a technicality, but this one bothers me.

    It has long been a conservative talking point that conservatives treat people as individuals, and liberals treat people in groups.

    This issue puts the lie to that notion, doesn’t it? We can see that all Muslims, regardless of sect or interpretation, share the blame for any wrong done by any Muslim.

    Fear-mongering bigots bother me. That there are so many of them really troubles me.

    • today, i was thinking about the mosque, and it occurred to me that those on the right who are screaming about how the non-mosque will hurt people’s sensibilities have ever uttered one word about the confederate flag flying on government buildings. they didn’t say a word about governors who endorsed confederate history month. those who were insulted and hurt were told to get over it. their feelings didn’t seem to matter.

      • Dang, I wish I’d thought of that!

        That’s a brilliant point.

        If we’re going to talk about people who are or were at war with America … well, … the Confederates sure as heck were!

        • writechic

          Has anyone seen Jesus’ General’s “Burn a Confederate Flag Day?” Really stinkin’ funny.

        • how about glenn blechhh’s planned rally on the steps of the lincoln memorial on the anniversary of the mlk ‘i have a dream’ speech? i guess it’s okay for ‘certain’ people to be insulted and disrespected.

          • Oh, haven’t you heard?

            God picked that date for him. He had no idea that it was the same date as Dr. King’s speech until it was already booked.

  2. jeb

    I oppose the Southern Baptists because their religion is centered around holding people underwater until they come around to the Baptist way of thinking. (NOTE: An old joke and I was raised in that church although I haven’t been since I was a teen).

    • i just read this over at the big orange. intolerance is intolerance, no matter what the religion.

    • Actually, that illustrates a good point.

      If you pick your way through religious teachings selectively, as most critics of Islam do, then you can make just about anyone look violent and dangerous.

      I just had it out with a friend of mine who was talking about how Mohammad invaded Mecca to spread (he said derisively) his religion of peace. I came back and pointed out that according to our Bible, Joshua and Caleb slaughtered Canaanites, not even offering the opportunity to convert. Men, women, and children.

      The New Testament texts that were used to defend the burning of witches are right there in the Epistles. Yes, we think that people misinterpreted them. There’s an important truth there.

      We should really amend the Constitution to make it clear that Muslims are second-class citizens.

  3. writechic

    Geller needs to get acquainted with common decency before she can claim to be acting in its interest.

  4. writechic

    Nice job on Geller, Nonnie. She looks terrifying, and she is.

    • believe it or not, i actually made her less terrifying! 😯 i can’t find the original pic i used, but in it, i swear it looked like she had fangs. i smudged it so it wouldn’t be so distracting.

    • Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs calls Geller “Shrieking Harpy.” I rather agree.

      Also, she calls her blog “Atlas Shrugs.” That makes for yet another reason why I despise Objectivists and Objectivism.

      • i resisted the urge to click over to atlas shrugs. instead, i chose to clean my toilet. i think i chose the more entertaining and more enlightening option. πŸ™‚

  5. This is an easy question: In America you have Freedom Of Religion (a) yes (b) no. That was so much fun, let’s try another: The former site of the World Trade Center is (a) prime commercial real estate owned by the Port Authority of NY or (b) a sort of reactionary Golgatha. And when the development of the new mall happens in the rebuild, there will be stores in there that will sell items of clothing and underwear that actually touch ladies naughty bits. Now can we allow this to happen without polling the nation to see if there is consensus? And this Geller woman, why isn’t she off bending spoons or something? And just to rub it into the religious crazies, I must comment on the Angle story of the day: Black football uniforms. Here in my little mid-cities town, in the H-E-B School District, the Trinity HS Trojans wear the devils BLACK football jersey and have been the 5A Champions year after year after year……

    • jerry, i think people like sharron the obtuse angle will tell you that the founders actually added a footnote to the first amendment, but it somehow got lost. it said that everyone has freedom of religion, as long as you freely pick christianity.

      i wonder if the port authority will add a christian taliban division that will carefully sort through all the dreck that will be available in the shops. underwear that touches lady bits is fine, but what if someone tries to sell some islamic crescent moon earrings or a t-shirt with buddha* on it? 😯

      *note: aqua buddha images and cologne will be allowed.

    • Here’s a blog post that a New Yorker put up showing other things that are as close to the WTC site as this community center would be.


      I had to change my view after seeing this.

      I mean, if there’s a strip club, a McDonald’s, and a Dunkin Donuts, then it must really be sacred ground. We can’t allow people to build mosques there!

      • That’s an excellent point! Love the link πŸ™‚

      • people have to realize that the greatest symbolism is how we live our lives and how we treat others. you don’t need a building or a monument or some kind of “hallowed ground” in order for people to know what we stand for. how many statues of st. ronnie have the rethugs sprinkled all over the damned place? they don’t make his presidency any better.

    • jeb

      “And this Geller woman, why isn’t she off bending spoons or something?” Oh man, I sprayed coffee through my nose.

  6. Alright … I know that I’m approaching my quota for comments on one post, but I was kind of proud of what I said over at Peter Walker’s blog. So I’ll share …

    so just to clarify …

    The small government, strict constructionist crowd wants the government to restrict what religions may be practiced where.

    The radical left-wing Muslim in the White House (who hates America, remember) is more or less bowing out of the conversation.

    Tea Party folks are falling back to arguing that Muslims should be more considerate of their feelings … though I’ve yet to come across anyone who knows how many adult book stores are closer to Ground Zero than the proposed community center.

    And consideration hasn’t exactly been a hallmark of the TP thus far.

    I feel like I’m in the Twilight Zone.

    And I don’t mean I’m seeing sparkly vampires.


  7. Unsure if images post here but this one about sums it up….

    • Why was there no outrage re:”Ramadan at the Pentagon” in October right after the attacks and the White House preparations and celebrations for Ramadan events when Bush was president?. Muslims held prayers inside the very building where 184 people died on Sept. 11, 2001, with blessings from the Administration. Now we’re arguing about sensitivity to have a community center two blocks away from one of the sites attacked.

      • wordpress doesn’t allow pictures in the comments. strange that you can put videos here but not pix. i hope they’ll add that feature one of these days.

        why was there no outrage every time chimpy was holding hands with the saudi prince? after all, all the hijackers except one were saudis. why are the hijackers seen only in terms of religion instead of place of origin? maybe it’s because newscorp’s largest stockholder right behind uncle rupie is a saudi. faux news won’t bite the hand that feeds them.

  8. Joanaroo

    Love how Geller says don’t make this about me, yet is behind the bus ads. She’s just as much a part as the other bloviators are. And if the actual ground zero site is such sacred ground to these right wing-nuts, why is anything promoting commerce going there? I think that’s reducing the sanctity of the site since people died a horrible death there. Imagine being that girl shown waving the handkerchief from that one broken window that day on the floors above the crash site. We watching at home knew she could only be rescued by a complicated endeavor because the stairways were blocked, then the collapse came. Imagine when the second came that she knew that the end of her life was now. I first heard the actual site was going to be a memorial surrounded by trees and benches, which to me would have been beautiful. A bit of silence and a meditative spot in a fast-moving city and world. Then, bingo, greed and $ prevails and now it’s a huge tower and office sites, and, oh yeah, we’ll have a memorial too. Lovely. I think all the headlines and teeth-gnashing going on should be over THAT! By the way, Geller, nice cheapening remark on sanctity and Christianity that a strip club is fine.

  9. Joanaroo

    About Obtuse Angle and the fact we thought she couldn’t get any loopier. She topped herself! My friend kstreet607 at http://kaystreet.wordpress.com had a post on the Muckers football team being forbidden
    by the school admin and Obtuse being on it said that black is EVIL! That was in 1992 and guess who is now trying to minimize the event. The Muckers should prevent Obtuse from ever attending a game. She should be a no-attendance-allowed Further Mucker!

  10. Joanaroo

    Sorry to hog up the comments but Geller’s comment that strip clubs didn’t bring down the towers is wrong. Didn’t Bin Laden and his #2 man in the tapes say more or less that part of their hatred of Western life was because of the loose morals of the West and the, yes, twisted logic of theirs that we are not religious enough and too worldly in the eyes of God, or Allah. I thought that had been one of the main reasons besides Al Queda’s anger at the US support of Israel.

    • when there’s something you really want to do, you can find reasons to do it. strip clubs didn’t bring down the towers just as islam didn’t. they were brought down by a small group of brainwashed fanatics who were manipulated through the use of fear and religion. geller is an ass who just wants attention and who is probably bankrolled by some rightwing propagandist.

  11. You’re getting a lot of mileage out of that teapot necklace, Nonnie.


  12. the hypocrisy of this debate is only slightly worse than the media making it an issue

    what about the statue of Jesus near the former Murrah building in Oklahoma city

    timothy mcveigh – catholic – bombed building, killed children

    but jesus, that is ok –

    oh there is a mosque 4 bocks from the WTC site, and the cordoba house isnt a mosque

    this country is full of shitheads and stupid

    • the really disgusting thing about this whole thing is that those screaming the loudest really don’t give a shit about the non-mosque. geller found something to bitch about that got her some extra viewers at her blog, and when the rightwing asswipes saw an opportunity to remind their base that they hate minorities, they ran with it. if the election was held tomorrow, you wouldn’t hear another word about the non-mosque on tuesday.

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