He pulls no punches when it comes to this issue.

The Rev. Bill Tvedt at Jubilee Family Church in Oskaloosa said the Islamic cultural center being built near Ground Zero in New York City is more than distasteful.

“It’s pretty repugnant,” said Tvedt. “It’s like building a KKK headquarters next to a Martin Luther King Jr. memorial.”

Tvedt went on to say he believes the building of this facility is consistent with 1,500 years of history when it comes to Islamic world conquest. He cited the fact that, in 1453, when the Ottoman Empire conquered Constantinople, they converted a Catholic cathedral into an Mosque.

“That’s a symbol,” said Tvedt. “They build a mosque as a sign of their victory.”

When asked about how he thought the freedom of religion guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution played into the issue, Tvedt said building the cultural center is “worse than hate speech.”

To further drive his point home, Tvedt read a passage from the Koran, the holy book of the Islamic world, which he said advocates violence against Christians and Jews.

“This has nothing to do with religion,” said Tvedt. “This has to do with conquest and control. They have an underlying agenda of conquest.”

In the unlikely event that a Mosque or other Islamic structure were to be built in Oskaloosa, Tvedt said he believes some Oskaloosa residents would not welcome it.

Of course, Tvedt is not the only religious leader in Oskaloosa with an opinion on the Islamic cultural center being built near Ground Zero.

The Rev. Liz Colton of St. Paul Congregational United Church of Christ said freedom of religion is a basic right for all Americans. She added, the Islamic cultural center planned near Ground Zero is not purely a mosque, or Islamic place of worship, but that it will be more like a YMCA facility. Colton also said the facility is a place dedicated to compassion and respect for all people.

“Our denomination, the UCC, is descended from Puritans and Pilgrims who came here to escape religious persecution,” Colton said. “There are many Muslims, Jews, Christians, Hindus and others who had loved ones who died on 9/11 and grieve for their losses.”

Colton said there are radical elements in nearly every religion, and said people should be careful when they judge all Muslims based on the actions of a few fanatics or terrorists.

“We as Christians don’t want to by judged by the actions of the KKK who acted as terrorists against African-Americans and Jews all while proclaiming to be Christians,” she said. “We as a nation and as a people see that things are not going well in many ways — be it acts of terrorism, wars, the economy and anxiety about the future. All of that encourages us to look for a scapegoat.”


Herald City Editor Andy Goodell can be reached at news2@oskyherald.com

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