There's a new twist in the controversy over the 'Ground Zero mosque.' This Sunday, Bill Keller, a Christian preacher from Florida, is inaugurating his own "9-11 Christian Center at Ground Zero," holding services at a Marriott Hotel two blocks from the World Trade Center site. This "bigoted" provocateur, says Salon's Justin Elliott, is virulently opposed not just to Islam (a religion of "hate and death" for hell-bound "pedophiles"), but also Mormons, gays, and President Obama. Should those who oppose the Park51 Islamic center also consider Keller's "Ground Zero church" an affront to the victims of 9/11? (Watch Keller rant about Islam)
Keller's calling the Park51 opponents' bluff: Critics of the "Ground Zero mosque" swear they're "not motivated by anti-Muslim animus," says Steve Benen in Washington Monthly. Well, here's their chance to prove it. Keller is, after all, a "radical figure, who's lashed out wildly at Americans" — plus, who knows who's funding his $8 million "Ground Zero church," or what type of "zealotry" it will unleash? Denouncing both centers seems a "no-brainer."
"Waiting patiently for the 'Ground Zero church' outrage"
What does Keller have to do with 9/11? "I must have missed something in the news," says Kevin D. Williamson in National Review. Keller's proposed church may be unsavory, but I don't recall that "a bunch of kook, Mormon-hating, tacky, gay-baiting, send-me-your-money televangelist wackos murdered 3,000 people in downtown Manhattan" nine years ago.
"Ground Zero mosque, Ground Zero church"
Tolerance works both ways: Freedom of religion means that Keller and his crew "have a right to set up shop near Ground Zero, too," says Joe Klein in Time. And if they do, let's hope they "actually get to meet some of their Muslim brothers and sisters," and "commence interfaith Kumbaya-singing festivals." The "insidious cosmopolitan" melting-pot of New York has been known to "encourage such behavior."