This Week in God

THIS WEEK IN GOD…. First up from the God Machine this week is a disturbing trend in religious bigotry in the U.S. While the right-wing backlash against a Muslim community center in Manhattan has generated considerable attention, Evan McMorris-Santoro reported this week that similar ugly disputes are breaking out in a wide variety of communities.

Earlier this week, we delved into the growing anti-Muslim sentiment from conservatives — often taking the form of outraged opposition to the construction of new mosques and Islamic cultural centers around the country. We offered three examples — the vitriol aimed cultural centers set to be built in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, Riverside County, California, and, of course, New York City — to show that the real problem conservatives have with new buildings for Muslims to worship in isn’t their proximity Ground Zero, but the very idea of new mosques themselves.

In the following days, reader emails poured in offering more examples of anti-mosque protests in all corners of the country. What’s particularly interesting is it’s not just new mosque construction that angers the right — even the idea of Muslims reusing existing, non-mosque-looking buildings seems to be a step too far for many Americans.

The bigotry on display is blatant enough to be disgusting. A Muslim group on Staten Island, for example, is planning to convert an old convent into a mosque, prompting one local resident to tell a reporter, “We just want to leave our neighborhood the way it is — Christian, Catholic.”

The convent ultimately recanted its agreement to sell the facility to the Muslim group.

It is the 21st century, by the way. I just thought I’d mention that.

Also from the God Machine this week:

* Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) signed a law earlier this month allowing locals to carry loaded firearms to services in houses of worship, as part of a congregation’s “security force.” This week, the executive director of the Louisiana Conference of Catholic Bishops said guns will not be welcome in their churches. This will not run afoul of the new state law, which allows houses of worship to impose their own restrictions.

* Did Rupert Murdoch kill Beliefnet, one of the web’s most popular and useful faith-based sites? Apparently so.

* The generation that created the religious right movement now has grown children — who don’t necessarily agree with their parents’ rigid theocratic worldview. (thanks to D.J. for the tip)