Waiting patiently for the ‘Ground Zero Church’ outrage

WAITING PATIENTLY FOR THE ‘GROUND ZERO CHURCH’ OUTRAGE…. A radical Christian preacher in Florida named Bill Keller has an idea. Apparently, what lower Manhattan really needs is a “9-11 Christian Center at Ground Zero” that would — as luck would have it — be two city blocks away from where the Twin Towers once stood.

Justin Elliott reports today that Keller will start preaching two blocks south of Ground Zero this weekend, and hopes to raise $8 million for his proposed building.

To get a sense of where Keller is coming from, consider his project’s website, which calls Islam a religion of “hate and death” whose adherents will go to hell. It also says: “Islam is a wonderful religion… for PEDOPHILES!”

Keller is the same pastor who hosted a Birther infomercial that encouraged viewers to send him and a partner donations to advance the Birther cause. His Internet ministry explicitly calls President Obama the new Hitler. He calls homosexuality a perversion. And in 2008, he targeted presidential contender Mitt Romney for being Mormon with a campaign called “voting for Satan.”

In short, if critics of the Park51 Islamic community center — which is explicitly welcoming of all faiths — truly believe that there is a “zone of solemnity” around ground zero (as Gov. Pat Quinn put it), they should be horrified at Keller’s 9/11 Christian Center.

Critics of Park51 insist their opposition is not motivated by anti-Muslim animus. This would seem to offer quite an opportunity, then, for even-handed disapproval. Indeed, it seems like a no-brainer.

Here we have a radical figure, who’s lashed out wildly at Americans, intending to build a controversial religious center two blocks from Ground Zero. We don’t know where his money will come from, or what kind of zealotry will spread from the building.

I’m entirely comfortable with Park51 and the 9/11 Christian Center being built. If opponents of the former aren’t motivated by anti-Muslim bigotry, then the latter should be denounced, too, right?

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.