When the Twin Towers fell on 9/11, right in the shadow of the South Tower stood a tiny historical building. St Nicholas was originally built in 1832 and had served the Greek Orthodox community continuously since 1922. Needless to say this building was completely and immediately destroyed when the South Tower fell. But here we are now with nothing but obfustication from the NY Port Authority which originally wanted to buy the site and relocated the church a block to the south. The Church leaders had agreed to the deal, but apparently this land swap currently not in the works.
George Demos, Republican candidate for the NY1 Congressional District explains~
Needless to say, it’s been 9 years and St Nicholas still has not been able to start working on replacing their building. They have their plans, they have their funding, but the Port Authority refuses to meet with them to approve the rebuilding. The plans (pdf,see pg 15 ) of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation as of Feb 2007 were to move the church to the corner of Liberty and Greenwich Streets, a little to the south of their original location. At some point last year, that plan and position was withdrawn by the NY Port Authority.
But let me be clear: as a citizen, and as President, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as anyone else in this country. That includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances. This is America, and our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakeable. The principle that people of all faiths are welcome in this country, and will not be treated differently by their government, is essential to who we are. The writ of our Founders must endure.
So, what about the Greek Orthodox Mr President? Is your “commitment to religious freedom” unshakeable here too? They can’t even get St Nicholas rebuilt in nine years time, with no solution to that problem in the near foreseeable future. What about their “right to build a place of worship”? To not be “treated differently by their government”? It seems they are definitely being treated “differently by their government” than a group that plans on groundbreaking ceremomies in a year’s time, and doesn’t even own the property they want to build on!