The simple fact is, this building is private property, and the owners have a right to use the building as a house of worship, and the government has no right whatsoever to deny that right. And if it were tried, the courts would almost certainly strike it down as a violation of the U.S. Constitution.
Whatever you may think of the proposed mosque and community center, lost in the heat of the debate has been a basic question: Should government attempt to deny private citizens the right to build a house of worship on private property based on their particular religion? That may happen in other countries, but we should never allow it to happen here. --- New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg
I don't always agree with Bloomberg, but on this point he is exactly right. Private property rights and religious freedom are basic parts of the American tradition of liberty. They are, in fact, more important than anything that happened on September 11. It dishonors the people who died that day to use their deaths to diminish freedom.
We should never allow the State to start regulating the private practice of religion. Every house of worship in America is built on the same legal foundation on which Park51 will stand. If that foundation is weakened, they will all be in jeopardy.
The disdain that some have shown for private property rights is equally troubling because it threatens every home and every business in the country. In a free society a person has the right to do whatever he wants with his own property so long as he does not violate the rights of any other person. There is no right to not be offended.
The opposition to the mosque is a consequence primarily of mistaking the people who are building the mosque for the people who crashed planes into the World Trade Center. The broad brush with which all Muslims are being painted is the same brush that was used to paint us into the Iraq war. We cannot let it be used to blot out what's left of our liberties.
There can and should be a civil discussion about the various societal issues raised by the building of the mosque. That discussion is a good opportunity for greater understanding and it should not be overshadowed by hateful, short-sighted rhetoric about limiting anyone's legal rights.