HATE-FILLED PASTOR PREACHES TO REPORTERS (AND A FEW ADHERENTS)…. Following up on an item from last week, Bill Keller, a hate-filled Christian preacher out of Florida, recently came up with an idea. What lower Manhattan really needs, Keller concluded, is a “9-11 Christian Center at Ground Zero” that would — as luck would have it — sit just two city blocks away from where the Twin Towers once stood.

As part of his effort, Keller would start preaching in New York yesterday, and it was bound to be enlightening — Keller hates Islam, hates Mormons, hates gays, and explicitly calls President Obama the new Hitler. So, how’d it go? Justin Elliott was on hand for the event, and posted some videos from the event.

To an audience of about 50 people — fully half of whom were members of the press — Pastor Bill Keller launched his 9-11 Christian Center at ground zero this morning with a fiery sermon targeting Muslims and Mormons as hell-bound followers of false faiths. Keller took aim in particular at Glenn Beck, a Mormon, and Imam Rauf, the organizer of the Park51 Islamic community center. […]

Despite the small turnout, the service attracted journalists from the New York Times, the New York Post, AOL, Newsweek, Dutch television and the Spanish newspaper El Mundo, among others.

When the number of reporters rivals the number of adherents, it’s a bad sign.

We’re still waiting, however, for the wave of conservative criticism. More to the point, 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. With Keller 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.

If there’s supposed to be a “zone of solemnity” around Ground Zero, shouldn’t the denunciations of Keller be more common? Or is it more likely that a radical evangelical Christian is deemed far less controversial than a moderate Muslim committed to combating extremism?

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. 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.