According to a Quinnipiac University poll,
54 percent of New York State voters agree "that because of American
freedom of religion, Muslims have the right to build the mosque near
Ground Zero." That strikes me as a shockingly small majority—almost
half don’t feel that “religious freedom” by definition applies to all
religions, even when the question’s put that way?—but hey, glad to hear of majority support for basic American principles, right?
I used to sit on the front porch with my grandmother, otherwise the
gentlest, most unconditionally loving person in my young life, while
she regaled me with stories about what was going on under the dome of
the Roman Catholic cathedral one block away. They're storing guns in
the basement, Grandma assured me, and I imagined that the windows in
the dome were gunports through which "they" planned to fire on the rest
of the city.
The First Amendment protection of religious freedom is designed not just to protect the religious traditions that the majority of us like or feel comfortable with. It is meant to protect religious traditions that the majority may find strange or objectionable.
Barely visible among the high-rise apartment buildings and cocktail lounges, a battered steel door in Manhattan's trendy Tribeca neighborhood leads to a basement jammed with barefoot men praying on their lunch break.