With the drop in church attendance in Europe amidst mass Muslim immigration we have witnessed conversions of empty churches into Mosques. Historically, we saw the ancient Greek Orthodox patriarchal basilica of Hagia Sophia converted into an imperial Mosque following the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople (Istanbul) in the 15th Century and then into a Museum in the 20th Century. Perhaps given the rise of a neo-Ottoman Caliphate under Premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Turkey, the Museum might be reconverted to a Mosque.
In Spain, the Mezquita Cathedral in Cordoba, once the site of a pagan temple under the Visigoths, was converted by the Umayyad Dynasty into the fabled Great Mosque. Then following the Reconquista in the 13th Century by Ferdinand 1st the Mezquita became a Cathedral once again. Since 2004, The Islamic Society of Spain has petitioned both Spain and the Vatican to permit Muslims to once again roll out their prayer rugs in the Mezquita and pray in a venue they once held in Al Andaluz. Those requests have been rejected. In March 2010 118 Austrian Muslims staged a dramatic event at the Mezquita Cathedral. Unrolling their prayer rugs, praying loudly, they attacked security guards when told by them to stop injuring two. In March 2013, Spanish Court acquitted eight of the Muslim assailants.
In the US we have witnessed churches and even synagogues sharing worship space with Muslim communities. However, we have also witnessed a dramatic rise in mega-Mosque construction projects roiling many communities across the US from lower Manhattan to the Buckle of the Bible Belt in Tennessee and Orange County in California. Notwithstanding that groundbreaking trend, some abandoned churches have been purchased by Muslim communities and converted into Mosques.
There is an abundant supply of closed or excess former churches. The Barna Group estimates that upwards of 4,000 Protestant churches are closed annually. While the US Catholic population has grown by more than half to 69 million according to Catholic World News, nevertheless 1,800 parishes have closed over the past 20 years.
One of those parish churches that closed is Holy Trinity Roman Catholic Church in Syracuse, New York, that held its last Mass in February 2010. Now, it is being purchased and converted into a Mosque by the burgeoning refugee population in Central New York. The irony is that this is being abetted by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, one of the leading voluntary agencies ,VOLAGS, engaged in processing refugee resettlement. It and other contractors are funded by US taxpayers under programs administered by our State and Health and Human Services Departments.
Our colleague at Refugee Resettlement Watch, Ann Corcoran, wrote about the conversion of Holy Trinity parish in Syracuse in a recent blog post, that bears witness to this latest development, “Syracuse: Refugee group buys Catholic Church, will be converted to a mosque”.
….because Muslim refugee population is growing.
It is a cold and rainy Sunday morning and I’m not easily discouraged, but I have to say this story is depressing. Most people don’t understand that Islam marks its victories by turning Christian churches into mosques. Surely there are other buildings available in Syracuse.
For close to six decades, Holy Trinity Roman Catholic Church on Syracuse’s north side was Anna Giannantomio’s church. She fought the Catholic Diocese decision to close it in 2010. While she believes everyone should be free to practice the religion they choose – she doesn’t understand why a new Islamic society wants to remove the crosses and move into the historic Catholic Church.
“This place was put into historical preservation and rightfully so,” said Giannantomio.
Crosses to be removed:
Holy Trinity was recently purchased by the North Side Learning Center, a volunteer group that assists refugees and immigrants. Northside Learning Center will lease the church to an Islamic society which would rename it Mosque of Jesus the Son of Mary. The North Side Learning Center has also filed a request with the Landmark Preservation Board to remove the crosses on the steeples and grounds. [Those who care in Syracuse should file a protest with the Preservation Board—ed]
Professor Margaret Thompson from Syracuse University’s Maxwell School says nearly 75% of refugees settling in Syracuse are Muslimand that religious freedom has been bringing immigrants to America for hundreds of years.
“Holy Trinity was founded to welcome German immigrants to Syracuse when it was originally built and now it’s welcoming a new cohort of immigrants,” said Thompson.
Anna Giannantonio wants everyone to have a place to worship. She emigrated from Italy as a teenager and understands the discrimination many Muslims face in America but Giannantonio wishes the church that welcomed her to the U.S. would stay a Catholic church.
“I don’t want to hurt anybody but the building should remain as it is,” said Giannantomio.
The North Side Learning Center is now making repairs to the buildings. They hope the mosque will be ready to open in June.
Syracuse refugee program is changing and we recommend if you live there you need to start researching and reporting to your local community. The Northside Learning Center is probably operating on taxpayer dollars so you have a right to demand more information about their activities.
New York is one of the top states with a large African and Middle Eastern Muslim population, here. Demographic change is what it’s all about. Once they get the population numbers almost nothing else matters.
Ironically the largest resettlement contractor, bringing the most Muslims to your towns and cities, is the US Conference of Catholic Bishops.
EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on The New English Review.