Utah Republican Senator Orrin Hatch broke through the bigotry wall many in his party have built over the past few months by saying the following about the controversial New York Muslim community center project:
Let’s be honest about it, in the First Amendment, religious freedom, religious expression, that really express matters to the Constitution. So, if the Muslims own that property, that private property, and they want to build a mosque there, they should have the right to do so. The only question is are they being insensitive to those who suffered the loss of loved ones? We know there are Muslims killed on 9/11 too and we know it’s a great religion. … But as far as their right to build that mosque, they have that right.
I just think what’s made this country great is we have religious freedom. That’s not the only thing, but it’s one of the most important things in the Constitution. […]
Can't say I have ever supported much of what the Senator has stood for over the years. But clearly on this issue, he understands that's it better to reach out to your neighbors than condemn them as enemies.
Somehow, that message seems to be lacking in the debate over physicist Stephen Hawking's new book, in which he claims that a creator God had no role in creation of the universe. I can imagine there's a lot more going on in the book than that, but a fair number of religious leaders are apparently pretty pissed at Hawking, running around making public statements denouncing Hawking's book and views. And Hawking hasn't exactly been innocent himself, making statements like the following a few months ago:
"There is a fundamental difference between religion, which is based on authority, [and] science, which is based on observation and reason. Science will win because it works."
Talking about winning and loosing is just as ridiculous as seeing heads of religious institutions flipping out over the comments of a single scientist who may be influential, but certainly isn't THE definitive leader, even in his own field.
The battle over Hawking's book, as well as over the Cordoba House project in New York, are both dramas of insecurity, and the enemy making that comes from it.
Science and religion are not enemies. Christians, Mormons, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, and atheists are not enemies. Republicans, Democrats, and the rest of us are not enemies.
It's all in our heads - how so and so is an enemy. The more of us that learn this, and act from this learning, the better.