TIME conducted interviews with eight prominent, diverse religious voices in the U.S. on the subject of the so-called Ground Zero mosque and community center in New York City. With the exception of Franklin Graham, the leaders appear committed to religious freedom, though a few worry that the funding for the mosque as well as its political and religious agenda have not been fully disclosed.
1. Heidi Hadsell, president of the Hartford Seminary
Hadsell supports the building of the mosque near the site of the Sept. 11 attacks. Hartford established a groundbreaking Christian-Muslim seminary program in the 1970s and has done some of the most innovative and leading work on Christian-Muslim dialogue. Meanwhile, in nearby Bridgeport, Conn., a similar mosque controversy is developing.
"I'm afraid that politicians have gotten hold of this and are using it to pander to extreme voices that are really Islamophobic. The real issues get lost in the battle. I think theologically, there is nothing inside of Christianity that would indicate that we are to treat people of other religions with anything but the utmost respect and friendship."
"Christians need to speak out. My guess is they are speaking out and they are not being heard. The voices that are being heard are the more strident voices."
"I think it's important for Christians across the country to hear what Christian leaders are saying and not just what right-wing politicians are saying. I think people ... get confused unless their own religious leadership speaks up. The noise isn't coming from religious leaders; it's coming from politicians. In the main part, religious leaders are not attacking this mosque. The main part is politicians who are attacking this mosque hoping for votes.
"If people would just calm down, it could go forward and in a few years people would see it doing exactly what [the mosque supporters] said it would do."
"The notion that one serves one's own faith by knocking down another faith is false. One serves one's faith by living up to the ideals of that faith. The ideals of Christianity, like the ideals of Islam and Judaism, are peaceful ideals. They are ideals of constructing peaceful and productive relationships with neighbors. The responsibility is to live up to the ideals of one's religion and not sink to the lowest fears."