Imam, Preacher, Rabbi on Islamic Center Near Ground Zero

A preacher, a rabbi, and an imam talk about faith relations in America as the debate over the Manhattan Islamic center rolls on.

People participate in a rally against a proposed mosque and Islamic community center near Ground Zero in New York, Aug. 22, 2010. (AP)

The controversy over the proposed Islamic Community Center near the former World Trade Center site in lower Manhattan has gone loudly, fully national. Gone global, really. 

Politicians and fundamentalists are making hay on the emotions and fear and offense around the issue. There are angry protests at the site. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg loudly defends the plan as a test and proof of American values.

Today, we talk with three prominent religious thinkers – a preacher, an imam, and a rabbi – about how they see what’s unfolding. We look at Islam, and faith relations in America now.

-Tom Ashbrook


Imam Mahdi Bray, a civic activist who serves as executive director of Muslim American Society Freedom Foundation, a Washington-based advocacy group affiliated with the Muslim American Society.

Martin Marty, professor emeritus at the University of Chicago Divinity School, where he taught for 35 years. He was a pastor in the Lutheran Church. He’s author of many books, including “Our Hope for Years to Come: The Search for Spiritual Sanctuary” and “The One and the Many: America’s Struggle for the Common Good.”

Rabbi Avi Weiss, leader of Hebrew Institute of Riverdale, a large synagogue in that suburb of New York City. He was a ‘”clerical first responder” at Ground Zero on 9/11 and the days that followed. In 1989, he led the protests against the building of a Carmelite convent near Auschwitz, and in 1995 led similar protests against the building of the church at the site of the nearby Birkenau camp.

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