Reinhold Niebuhr and the Ground Zero Mosque Debate

Like many sensible Americans, Dick Cavett is horrified by the crude expressions of bigotry and political opportunism unleashed by what the pundits are calling the “Ground Zero Mosque controversy”. 

A woman tells the news guy on the street, “I have absolutely no prejudice against the Muslim people. My cousin is married to one. I just don’t see why they have to be here.” A man complains that his opposition to the mosque is “painting me like I hate the whole Arab world.” (Perhaps he dislikes them all as individuals?)

I remain amazed and really, sincerely, want to understand this. What can it be that is faulty in so many people’s thought processes, their ethics, their education, their experience of life, their understanding of their country, their what-have-you that blinds them to the fact that you can’t simultaneously maintain that you have nothing against members of any religion but are willing to penalize members of this one? Can you help me with this?

I’m not sure I can, but a voice from the mid-twentieth century might be of assistance. 

Reinhold Niebuhr spent most of his life teaching at Union Theological Seminary in New York City, but before entering the academic life he served as a Protestant pastor in Detroit for many years.  Many of his sharpest insights are rooted in the nitty-gritty of pastoral experience.  The young Niebuhr championed the cause of Detroit assembly line workers, many of them African Americans migrating north in search of work and opportunity.  His struggles and frequent setbacks taught him how intractable the sins of avarice and racial bigotry can be.

In a 1945 essay called “The Race Problem,” Niebuhr criticized the evangelical churches of the South for selling out completely to the racist frenzy of the day.  Northern liberals talked a better game, he admitted, but the platitudes emanating from prominent pulpits were rooted in the false assumption that bigotry is primarily a matter of ignorance.  A little moral education, the liberal preachers seemed to say, and all will be well.

Niebuhr disagreed.

Let the church, in dealing with the race issue, avail itself of every measure of enlightenment that modern science, anthropological and psychological, can contribute to the issue.  But let it not forget its own resources, or rather the resources of its gospel.  The Church knows, or ought to know, that though men may be incredibly stupid, the hatred and contempt that they exhibit in their lives springs from a deeper source than stupidity.  It is the consequences of the corruption of a greater spiritual freedom in man than those understand who speak of man as ‘rational’.  Both the dignity and the misery of man are greater than modern culture understands.  The misery of man is derived from his idolatry, from his partly conscious and partly unconscious effort to make himself, his race, and his culture God.  This idolatry is not broken until man is confronted with the real God, and finds his pride broken by the divine judgment, and learns that from this crucifixion of the old proud self a new self may arise, and that this new self has the “fruits of the spirit,” which are “love, joy, and peace.”

Niebuhr had little confidence that the churches would follow the wisdom of the Christian gospel.  He accused American churches, orthodox and liberal, of being “in perfect flight” from the traditional Christian doctrine of original sin.  The principle cause of injustice, he believed, wasn’t ignorance, it was “our predatory self-interest.” 

“Increasing racial tension is due,” Niebuhr wrote “to increasing fear among the proponents of ‘white supremacy’ who feel their privileged position in a caste society imperiled and who become more and more desperate in seeking to ward off further concessions of justice.  This is why certain reactionary white Southerners express themselves more and more hysterically in their attitude toward the race question.”

Sound familiar?

Reinhold Niebuhr, incidentally, had a profound influence on the practical theology of Martin Luther King.  In the first book of his trilogy on the King years, Taylor Branch devotes an entire chapter to King’s discovery of Niebuhr during his years at Crozer seminary.  “After Niebuhr,” Branch writes, “King experienced for the first time a loss of confidence in his own chosen ideas rather than inherited ones.  The Social Gospel lost a good deal of its glow for him almost overnight, and he never again fell so completely under the spell of any school of thought, including Niebuhr’s.” 

Niebuhr taught King that dispensing pleasant bromides from the liberal pulpit would change nothing.  If “the race problem” was as deeply rooted as the Union Seminary professor suggested, it would take radical measures to overcome it.

The current agitation over the Ground Zero mosque isn’t an isolated moment of corporate madness.  The mosque issue is just a contemporary version of “never in a thousand years” resistance to the civil rights movement or, a generation later, the Republican “southern strategy” that parlayed fear and bigotry into amazing success at the ballot box.

Niebuhr is dead right.  We despise and reject the “other” because we have transformed our privileged place in America into an idol.  We seethe with racial resentment because, deep down, we know we stand indicted before a God who is satisfied with nothing short of perfect justice.

Will we ever learn a better way?  Not if Reinhold Niebuhr is to be believed.  They don’t call it “original” sin for nothing.  Like “the oldest profession”, “predatory self-interest” lies at the heart of the human condition and can only be overcome (even partially) through confession and repentance.

Does anyone in American public life have the courage to call sin by its proper name? 

Barack Obama (another disciple of Reinhold Niebuhr) came close when he defended the right of the Muslim community to build a place of worship two blocks from ground zero.  Then the president appeared to backtrack.  The fact that the Muslim community had the right to build the mosque, he said, didn’t necessarily make this a wise decision.

Obama made an important and valid distinction, but this is no time for philosophical nuance.  The American people need moral clarity from leaders who are willing to lose the world (and an election) to save their own souls.

One thought on “Reinhold Niebuhr and the Ground Zero Mosque Debate

  1. COLEGIO RETAMAR: TRAFFICKERS OF SOULS IN INVISIBLE CASSOCKS, BURKAS AND HIJABS.

    THE HOLY EARTHLY GENOCIDE TRINITY OF THE BLOODTHIRSTY ORGIES.
    THE HOLY EARTHLY DAMNED TRINITY OF OPUS DEI ASSAULTS ON REASON.
    THE HOLY EARTHLY VATICAN TRINITY OF FUHRER RATZINGER BIN BUSHITLER.
    THE HOLY EARTHLY TRINITY OF LUSTFUL VATICAN AND WORRIORS OF GOD.
    THE HOLY EARTHLY TRINITY OF COLEGIO RETAMAR FOR ASSAULTS ON REASON.
    THE HOLY EARTHLY TRINITY OF COLEGIO RETAMAR FOR ILLEGAL FOUNDATIONS.
    THE HOLY EARTHLY TRINITY OF COLEGIO RETAMAR FOR BLACK MONEY DEALS.
    THE HOLY EARTHLY TRINITY OF COLEGIO RETAMAR MODERN CATHOLIC CRUSADES.
    I have been destined to come out from a MOSLEM FAMILY and join OPUS DEI as a SUPERNUMERAR for DECADES to discover the HOLY SUPREME MAFIA that runs inside the CATHOLIC CHURCH that has nothing to be compared with CHRIST and his BEATITUDES. CHRIST DOCTRINE has been CLONED and he has been present on the BUSHITLER PENTAGON to plan ATROCITIES, CRUELTIES, DESTRUCTIONS and CLEANSINGS. The CULTURE of TORTURE has been resurrected again to devour the POOR BREAD to make HOSTS (WHEEL of MILLS) for the ALTARS that are made of GOLD and DIAMONDS.
    Time makes HISTORY and I have made HISTORY at OPUS DEI, CATHOLIC CHURCH and SPANISH HISTORY. I have entered the WIDE DIGNIFIED GATE and I have come out of the UNSEEN GATE, as a result to burry and hide the ASSAULTS on REASON carried on by the MUTUAL HOLY SUPREME MAFIA of OPUS DEI PENTAGON and VATICAN PLANET. I think that HUMAN VALUES I have inherited from my MOSLEM PARENTS have been so enough to continue with the “GREATNESS and GLORY of OPUS DEI”. I have decided to leave the DUST on my SHOES on the ROBBED ALTARS of OPUS DEI.
    I have said NO to OPUS DEI ASSAULTS on REASON, PUBLIC TREASURY THEFTS, PUBLIC HEALTH SECURITY ATTACKS, STATE SUBVENTIONS ROBBERIES, BLACK MONEY DEALS, ILLEGAL FOUNDATIONS, HOLOCAUSTS of TECHNOLIGICAL ERA, MODERN BLOODHED CRUSADES, CULTURE of TORTURES, COCKS CONTEMPLATERS, DEAD BODIES WALKERS, ADOLESCENT RAPERS and BI SHOPS MAKERS for BISHOPS. WORLDWIDE BELIEFS teach and preach not serving GOD and MONEY at the SAME TIME. BLACK and COLOURFUL MONEY is a COOMANDMENT or an IMPERATIVE in OPUS DEI and CATHOLIC CATECHISM.
    It has become clear, concrete and precise that CLONED CHRISTIANITY sounds SATANITY, OPUS DEI sounds CRUSADES. The POOR NATIONS have been facing the PERMITTED INJUSTICE, the INVISIBLE MEDIEVALIZED CRUSADES and TECHNOLOGICAL GENOCIDE INSTRUMENTS for DECADES and CENTURIES. CRUSADERS have stopped TIME before the THIRD WORLD NATIONS. It is MATHMATICAL that BIN LADEN KILLS, but CAPITALISM is INCREASING, as you are having more CAPITAL for less PEOPLE. It is hard to say that BIN LADEN is PROCREATING RICHNESS, but CRUSADERS are MAKING the POOR POORER. They SOWING POORNESS, SORROWFUL, GENOCIDES and RECESSIONS.
    It HONOURS and DIGNIFIES me that I am the only HUMAN BEING who feels IDENTIFIED with UNIVERSAL HUMAN LOVE, UNIVERSAL UNIQUE HUMAN RACE, WORLDWIDE HUMAN RIGHTS, and UNIVERSAL HUMAN JUSTICE and is able to SEAL the MOUTHS the OPUS DEI and the VATICAN PLANET with all the RUBBISH they STORE into their MUZZLES and the TRASH they hide under TONGUES and then I press on their noses to SWALLOW it and EXPLODE like CLUSTER BUMBS that they give to the POOR CHILDREN at CHRISTMAS and WARS.
    I have educated TWO GENERATIONS at COLEGIO RETAMAR in MADRID. It is said a COPORATIVE WORK of OPUS DEI, but has been seen and experienced as a LUCRATIVE WORK and a BUNKER for the ASSAULTS on REASON as a HUMAN TREASON. I had the PRIVILEDGE to teach, instruct and educate the ones who come from FASCISM, DICTATORSHIP, CHURCH SLAVERY, GREATNESSES of SPAIN, the DUKE and DUCHESS, the MARQUISES and MARCHIONESSES, ARISTOCRACY, NOBILITY, HIGHNESS and ROYALTY. LOVE, JUSTICE and PEACE have been my INDICATOR on the lovely STAGE of LIFE. RICHNESS has never been my AMBITION in LIFE and that is why I have RENOUNCED to the GREATNESSES and EARTHLY GODS.
    I have shared TIME and SPACE with BELOVED, HONOURED and DIGNIFIED SPANISH HISTORY MAKERS. I have really enjoyed and learned about their way of GOVERNING, GETTING into PROBLEMS, DEALING or DISPACHING with FRANCO (GOD BLESS HIS SOUL AND ALL OF THEM).I feel honoured to say that OUR BELOVED SPAIN has been SERVED and GIVEN all the best I had during my PROFESSIONAL LIFE. It has been a great honour for me having instructed two distinguisged generations for THIRTY THREE YEARS, such as, NAVARRO RUBIO, SÁNCHEZ BELLA, LOPEZ BRAVO, AREILZA, WALKER, KOLOWITIZ, ALVÁREZ de las ASTURIAS, ALVÁREZ de TOLEDO, BANÚS, URQUIJO, QUESADA, CANÓVAS del CASTILLO, AGAG, DEL CASTILLO, OREJA, CARLOS SAINZ and THOUSANDS who I still REMEMBER and APPRECIATE.
    I have come to the resolution that OPUS DEI has been born to become the DISGRACE for the CHRISTIANITY and CHRISTIAN CHURCHES. The CALL to HOLINESS is translated into the CALL to MODERN CRUSADES in INVISIBLE CASSOCKS to steal and rob the POOR BREAD and make them go back CENTRIES. That is the REAL BLOODY EARTHLY CLONED CHRIST DOCTRINE. It has been evidenced that CHRIST was a SOCIALIST and a LIBERAL. He has shared until the last PIECE of BREAD with the POOR. He has shared TIME and SPACE with FOLLOWERS, SINNERS and PROSTITUTES. He had no difference in RACE, AGE, GENDER, RANK, PROFESSION and CONDITION.
    CHRISTMAS was coming and I was waiting for an EXTRA PAYMENT from the MINISTRY of EDUCATION, as the SECTION I worked for was SUBVENTIONED. At that time, my WIFE was a SECRETARY of DISTINGUISHED ENRQUE SÁNCHEZ DE LEÓN at the MINISTRY of EDUCATION. I was told about the extra payment I was going to receive, but the WESTERN GANGSTERS of ECONOMY at COLEGIO RETAMAR were going to pay HALF OF THE MINISTRY PAYMENT, but I REFUSED and told them about the EXACT AMOUNT I HAD TO RECEIVE and ABOVE ALL I HAD A COPY OF THE PAYMENT FROM THE MINISTRY. The SHERIF of COLEGIO RETAMAR ECONOMY, LUIS SABÁTES ORDERED the FULL PAYMENT DIRECTLY and then I came back home with the TEARS on my CHEEK for the OPUS DEI BLOODY and DAMNED ABERRATIONS. SINCE THEN I HAVE NOT ATTENDED ANY CHRISTMAS PARTIES or SOCIAL MEETINGS at SCHOOL BUNKERS and that has lasted for DECADES. My HONOUR and DIGNITY had a PRICE.
    I have been offended that I received my FULL PAYMENT, but my COLLEAGUE DIDN´T. My CONSCIENCE has taken me to report that ASSAULT ON PROPER POOR EMPLOYEES before a LABOUR UNION (CSIEF) SECRETLY. I have been guided by the LABOUR UNION GENERAL SECRETARY, MR. VIRSEDA. It has taken both of us two years to give end to the ASSAULTS on STATE SUBVENTIONS. It was impossible for the GANGSTERS to CHANGE the DOCUMENTS before the END of the SUBVENTIONED PERIOD. At the same time, I have tried my best to keep my post at BUNKER COLEGIO RETAMAR.
    It has been usual to sign at the end of month when you receive your salary. I refused to sign the ASSAULTS on REASON and at that time AURELIO LOZANO, who was the SECRETARY of the SHERIF, LUIS SABÁTES told me “IF YOU ARE NOT MOISÉS, YOU WILL NOT STAY OR CONTINUE AT SCHOOL FOR THREE DAYS”. At that time, I was a SUPERNUMERARY MEMBER at OPUS DEI and I KNEW all the CORRUPTIONS at SCHOOL, because my WIFE had their DOCUMENTS in her OFFICE at the MINISTRY of EDUCATION. LOVE takes HUMAN BEINGS to JUSTICE and then to PEACE at INDIVIDUAL and COLLECTIVE LEVELS, but LOVE takes OPUS DEI to CRUSADES against the POOR, then to PERMITTED INJUSTICE and then to SPIRITUAL TERRORISM and to WARS ON ERROR.
    TIME goes QUICKLY. I was met suddenly by ECONOMY GANGSTER, LUIS SABÁTES on the STAIRS that take to the SCHOOL CANTEEN. He asked me “DO YOU REALLY SAY AT SCHOOL THAT THE OPUS DEI ARE THIEVES?”. I had no choice or think twice to answer him “YES, OF COURSE, I DO. I WILL ALSO CONTINUE SAYING THAT YOU ARE THIEVES UNTIL YOU STOP YOUR ASSAULTS ON PUBLIC TREASURY AND THE EMPLOYEES JUSTICE IS ACHIEVED”. He took me to his office directly and the first words he said “I SWEAR BY THE NAME OF GOD THAT MEASURES WILL NOT BE AGAINST YOUR INTERESTS AND THE INTERESTS OF YOUR COLLEAUGUES”. It was wasting the time and usless to continue speaking to HEARLESS and SOULESS DEVILS who DEVOUR the PROPER EMPLOYEES BREAD AND THE PUBLIC TREASURIES. I have rushed out of his BUNKER, but I hav not had time to have a look on his chair. He may have had a SHIT, because his EARS have had touched the floor and they were RED like the POOR BLOOD THEY FLOW.
    I have followed the INSTRUCTIONS of the EX MARQUIS de PERALTA “DON´T LET YOUR LIFE BE BARREN. BE USEFUL. MAKE YOUR LIFE FELT. SHINE FORTH WITH THE TORCH OF YOUR FAITH AND YOUR LOVE”, but I had no AMBITIONS for VIRILITY to consider that WOMEN are the CENTRES and the ROOTS of MEN´S SINS and LEADSHIP to practise FASCISM and make POWER of FORCE overcomes the POWER of LOVE. The FOUNDER of OPUS DEI is really the FOUNDER of BLOWING the HUMAN RIGHTS, DIGNITY and MORALITY. WAY is the 999 WAYS OUT for OPUS DEI to apply their UNCONCEIVED DOCTRINE. It is SAID that MATRIMONY is a HOLY SACRAMENT and MARRIAGE is for the SOLDIERS anot for the GENERAL STAFF FOR CHRIST´S ARMY. YOU see that CHRIST´S ARMY and ARMS are for KILLING, but the POOR ARMS are for MAKING LOVE and HUGGING.
    REMOTE CONTROLLERS make me know the HEART BEATS at OPUS DEI, I mean, “IN CASA”. I have experienced the ones who are from “CASA” for over than THREE DECADES. I have shared the GOOD of OPUS DEI and I have abhorrented the MALICE of OPUS DEI. I had the chance to meet a lady while I was a member at OPUS DEI. She was an EX SUPERNUMERARY and DIVORCED from who was a BROTHER of mine at that moment. It has been a PROVIDENCE that I have educated her SONS at COLEGIO RETAMAR and one of them has become a COLLEAUGUE of MINE. At the first sight both of us have been attracted by each other and there were no differences to share our desires from the beginning. The first day, I have met her, I went to the Chaplain of school, DON LUIS CARRIÓN and told him what was going on with the ACTUAL SUPERNUMERARY and the EX SUPERNUMERARY LADY.
    At the beginning we both had no no intentions to get married, due the concepts, precepts, ideology and theology of the EX MARQUIS de PERALTA. MARRIAGE is not for the GENERAL STAFFF of CHRIST´S ARMY, so we both continued our HOLY VENTURE and shared all the best we had on the LOVELY STAGE of LIFE. There was a COMPLETE SILENCE in OPUS DEI and her OPUS DEI NUMERARY SON was a COLLEGEAUGUE of MINE at SCHOOL. Both HOUSES were like a HOUSE, but from time to time, I was asked if I MAKE LOVE with her at HOME, ABROAD or on our INCESSANT TRIPS to different PLACES in SPAIN. YOU see that OPUS DEI is a SECRET SECT that INFECTS like INSECTS.
    THINGS came to their END and SILENCE was CUT OFF when I got married with that LADY at the most WELL KNOW CENTRE, BUNKER OR HEADQUARTER of OPUS DEI in POZUELO de ALARCON (HALL TOWN). I have been born FREE and I had NOBODY to ask for PERMISSION to get MARRIED. Before going to holidays with her to the NORTH of SPAIN, I had a talk with the DIRECTOR ADVISOR and the SCHOOL CHAPAIN. I told them of my intentions for going on holidays with her and getting married with her after coming back. I joined SCHOOL on the SECOND HALF PART of SEPTEMER and on the FIRST HALF PART of OCTOBER I WAS forced to RETIRE with FULL FIVE YEARS PAYMENTS. It means that the ACTUAL DIRECTOR of COLEGIO RETAMAR, DON JOSÉ LUIS ALIER has handed me THIRTY SEVEN THOUSAND EUROS IN BLACK AND COLOURFUL MONEY, and at the same time, he has tried to INDOCTRINATE me on LIES to deny the TRUTH and SAY LIES to my COLLEAUGUES about the REASONS of my RETIREMENT.
    The CAPITALISM of OPUS DEI has been unable to buy my honour and dignity with LORD BLACK MONEY. FREEDOM of EXPRESSION, LOVE, TRUTH, JUSTICE and PEACE are PRICELESS. I would have preferred to continue serving the NEW GENERATIONS with my MATURED KNOWLEDGE much better than the TREASURES and the ALTARS of OPUS DEI. It is without question the ERA OF CHURCH SLAVERY and the SLAVES of IMMORALITY who apply a PERSONAL IDEOLOY without a COMMON THEOLOGY to practise SPIRITUAL TERRORISM, CATHOLIC YIHADISM, CHURCH BUSHITERISM, FASCIST RATZINGERISM, OPUS DEI BIN BUSHITER and RATZINGER BIN BUSHITLER. Do not put your WORK untill TOMORROW. CONTINUE SANCTIFING the SPIRITUAL TERRORISM to HIDE the TRUTH. YOU ARE the WAY of the 999 WAYS of SATANISM and DIABOLISM.
    AS A RESUT of the OPUS HOLY SUPREME MAFIA, I have been submitted to OPUS DEI COMPUTING PROSTITUTION, ADULTERY WITH HUMAN RIGHTS, INVASIONS ON PRIVACY, ATTACKS ON PROPERTIES, IDENTITIES THEFTS, INTERNET PHISING, ANTI VIRUS BRANDS SUPLANTATION, WEBS CLONATION, GAZA GENOCIDES CELEBTATIONS, HOME KIDNAPPING, DEATH THREATS, HOMICIDE ATTEMPTS, POLICE REAL THREATS or SUPLANTATIONS. FASCIST SPANISH POLICE and BUSHITERIST JUDGES have kept their ARMS CROSSED to PROMOTE HUMAN and SPIRITUAL TERRORISM. THAT IS THE CALL TO HOLINESS of the CULTURE of TORTURE, RACISM, DISCRIMINATION, HIDDEN and UNSEEN TERRORISM. I have nothing to be AFRAID of and say that FASCISM of OPUS DEI, POLICE and JUDGES are PROMOTERS OF TERRORISM in all its WAYS and MEANS. I have not been given a HAND when I was DYING the POLICE STATION of CUATRO CAMINOS, and the PERMANENT JUDGE at PLAZA de CASTELLA. CRIMINALS are also SONS of GOD.
    TERRORIST and BIN LADENIST TELEFONICA de ESPAÑA (telefónica de España) has put all its means of COMMUNICATIONS at the SERVICE of the HOLY SUPREME MAFIA of OPUS DEI, to KIDNAP ME AT HOME and to PLAN an ATTEMPT of HOMICIDE against me, CARRIED on by SANTIAGO ESCRIVÁ de BALAGUER who was a STUDENT of MINE at COLEGIO RETAMAR and he is the NEPHEW of the EX MARQUIS de PERALTA. SANTIAGO works for ADESLAS as a SPIRITUAL TERRORSIST DOCTOR together with his ACCOMPLICE, DOCTOR SUÁREZ, who both have tried to give en to my LIFE. CHRISTIANITY has been STEPPED on, HUMAN RIGHTS have been OUTRAGED, SPANISH CONSTITUTION has been PISSED on, CHURCH MORALITY has been SHITTED on, HUMAN VALUES have been SOLD and CHRIST is being CRUCIFIED at all the MOMENTS and CIRCUMSTANCES of their LIFE. SAVIOUR CHRIST save me from YOUR CLONED DAMNED FOLLOWERS who FUCK YOUR REAL HOLY DOCTRINE.
    VICARIO/VICARIOPUSDAY/DON MOISÉS IBRAHIM: EX OPUS DEI SUPERNUMERARY AND EX EDUCATOR AT COLEGIO RETAMAR IN MADRID FOR THIRTY THREE YEARS, A BUNKER FOR THE ASSALUTS ON REASON, A CENTRE FOR BLACK MONEY DEAL, A FORTRESS OF ILLEGAL FOUNDATIONS, A HEADQUARTER OF SPIRITUAL TERRORISTS RECRUITMENTS, A LUSFUL CATHEDRAL AND A MONASTERY FOR SECRETISM.

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