Responsible for Equality And Liberty (R.E.A.L.) supports our universal human rights of religious freedom, freedom of conscience, and freedom of worship for all people.
As a non-partisan organization, R.E.A.L. typically avoids addressing any one political faction, but given the human rights issue involved in this case, we have felt the need to report on the issue of Tea Party activists and protests against mosques in the United States. In June 2010, R.E.A.L. attempted to contact the national and state offices of Tea Party organizations for their comment on a recent series of reports that some Tea Party political individuals were against the construction of mosques in the United States. We have received no comment from such groups on the recent comments and actions on Tea Party activists against mosques in America. This has included no comment from Tea Party individuals that have previously contacted us to clarify their position on racist individuals that have attempted to infiltrate some Tea Party groups.
R.E.A.L. supporters see a disturbing trend that state and national Tea Party groups are not willing to comment on (at this point) in the growth of individuals who seek to use Tea Party efforts to include issues such as protests against mosques. We urge those Tea Party supporters who disagree with this trend to protest houses of worship to state their views, and contact R.E.A.L. at firstname.lastname@example.org. We urge Tea Party supporters who do NOT support such protests against houses of worship to publicly speak out.
In May 2010, R.E.A.L. reported on the comments by chairman of the Tea Party Express Mark Williams who stated that Muslims worship a “monkey-god.” Mr. Williams has since reportedly stepped down to pursue efforts to organize protests against the mosque on 45 Park Place in New York City, and pursue a role with the Sacramento City Council.
A few days after Tea Party Express leader Mark Williams’ comments on Islam, the Stop Islamization of America (SIOA) Executive Director Pamela Geller spoke before the Tennessee Tea Party (video).
SIOA then organized and led the June 6, 2010 protest against the 45 Park Place mosque in New York City in Lower Manhattan (which has been in operation since December 2009). It was evident from photographs of the protest that Tea Party supporters were among the protesters at the protest against that Lower Manhattan mosque.
In Tennessee, R.E.A.L. reported on June 25, 2010, about the position by Congressional candidate Lou Ann Zelenik who is against construction by a mosque (that already exists) in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Tea Party congressional candidate Lou Ann Zelenik’s comments against the Murfreesboro mosque expansion were promoted by the Wilson County Tea Party group. Ms. Zelenik views that the Murfreesboro mosque expansion plans are designed to “fracture the moral and political foundation of Middle Tennessee,” and that “we are not obligated to open our society to any of them.”
In Brooklyn, New York, R.E.A.L. has also learned that the Brooklyn Tea Party has also gotten involved in protests against mosques there as well as in Manhattan. On June 1, 2010, “culturist” Brooklyn Tea Party’s Dr. John Press announced plans to protest the 45 Park Place mosque in Manhattan, and Madeline Brooks reported on continuing Brooklyn Tea Party protests in Brooklyn regarding the Manhattan mosque. Madeline Brooks viewed these Tea Party protests against mosques as “a natural and logical extension of patriotism to move from outrage about high taxes and socialized health care.”
Brooklyn Tea Party leader Dr. John Press has also been part of the Brooklyn protests against a planned mosque in Brooklyn on Voorhies Avenue, which R.E.A.L. has previously reported about. At a recent protest against a planned Brooklyn mosque, Dr. Press defends the comments by a white American woman protester was being interviewed by a black American reporter, with the protester stating “Those people don’t belong here! They ain’t gonna get along with our kids. Did you ever see a Muslim shake an American’s hand? None of them live here and we don’t want them in our community.” Brooklyn Tea Party leader Dr. John Press defends such views in a July 5, 2010 article that he wrote for the “American Thinker,” entitled “Culturists oppose another mosque in Brooklyn.”
Brooklyn Tea Party leader Dr. Press also has told the NY Daily News about his focus on “culturism,” specifically in only defending “a European Judeo-Christian culture.”
Brooklyn Tea Party leader Dr. Press has urged readers of the white nationalist American Renaissance group to use the term “culturist,” in his comments to an American Renaissance posted article “Is Black Culture the Problem with Education?.” In his comments, Brooklyn Tea Party leader Dr. Press tells the white nationalists at American Renaissance “We need to employ the word culturist to save our school system. Currently, our school system sees differences in achievement and searches for answers and skips the cultural explanation you highlight.” In another article, Dr. Press complains that “Whiteness studies treats all discrimination against groups as completely arbitrary, irrational and insane,” and states that discrimination against early immigrants of Italians, Catholics, and Jews, had a rational basis for such discriminatory views, which is why Dr. Press argues for “culturism,” which focuses on using our cultural differences to support only some cultures. This same argument for “culturism” by Brooklyn Tea Party Leader Dr. Press is how he justifies protests against mosques.
R.E.A.L. rejects the views of Brooklyn Tea Party leader Dr. John Press in his goal to defend only “a European Judeo-Christian culture,” just like we defy the views of the American Renaissance group that seeks to promote white nationalism. While the Brooklyn Tea Party leader supports “culturism,” we are Responsible for Equality AND Liberty – for all Americans, and for all people – in defense of America’s Constitution and in defense of our universal human rights.
America is a nation for and composed of people of all races, all ethnic backgrounds, all religions, and all identity groups. We remember that United We Stand – in every race, every ethnic background, every religion, and every identity group. R.E.A.L. takes exception to those who would deny freedom of religion and freedom of worship, whether it is in the United States or anywhere else in the world.
It is deeply troubling to America’s democracy when a political party is increasingly getting involved with seeking to deny freedom of religion and freedom of worship in the United States of America. The comments and activities of Tea Party activists against mosques in different parts of America are not “isolated incidents.” The political leaders in the Tea Party state and national groups cannot continue to remain silent on this direction by such Tea Party activists. They need to take a stand on whether or not they really believe in the United States Constitution.
In the Constitution’s Bill of Rights, the 1st Amendment to the Constitution includes the following provision: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” R.E.A.L. knows that Tea Party supporters are well aware of this, as is Tea Party Congressional candidate in Tennessee Lou Ann Zelenik, who is campaigning for Congress with a goal to deny such free exercise of religion to Muslims in Tennessee.
We support and will defend the Constitution of the United States of America.
In that Constitution, there are no caveats or qualifiers to such free exercise of religion via worship or houses of worship. Nor is there a caveat or qualifier for religions with social and political activism, whether we like it or not. The Constitution does not state freedom of religion and freedom of worship only extends to certain religions, and not others. Nor do such universal human rights of freedom of religion, worship, and conscience only apply to those we like or those like us – those human rights apply to all human beings.
If the Tea Party seeks to educate Americans on the Constitution, when will its activists begin to take a public stand on those who seek to defy freedom of worship for Muslims in America, and demonstrate the courage of their commitment to America’s Constitutional rights for all Americans? Do they believe in the American Constitution or not? Because supporting the Constitution is not simply something one can do when it is convenient to your political argument.
We urge Tea Party supporters and activists to support the United States Constitution and our universal human rights, and publicly reject those who would deny freedom of religion and freedom of worship in America. We urge Tea Party activists to make their voice heard to those Tea Party group leaders who would reject such freedoms. We urge all Americans to be consistently responsible for equality and liberty.
Postscript: to the Brooklynite who believes that no Muslims ever shake an Americans hand – not only do Muslims supporting democracy and freedom do so at events in our nation’s capital on a regular basis, they do so regularly – and R.E.A.L.’s leaders stand in solidarity with them in the struggle for our universal human rights here and around the world.