What about St Nicholas Church?

All of the fine talk from President Barack Obama (D) about the rights of people "who cling to their religion" and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to construct a religious institution in accordance with zoning laws must grate on the priest and members of New York's St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church. 

Formed in 1916 and formerly standing in the shadows of the World Trade Center, the church was totally destroyed when the crumbling towers crashed into it on that tragic September 11. Hobbled by government red tape--finally overcome--and conflicts with the government Port Authority of New York and New Jersey about land for a rebuilt church, negotiations for constructing a new church in the area of its original location, ongoing for nearly nine years, have ended with no resolution. The church remains unbuilt; a rebuilt church remains a dream; members and clergy now worship and conduct their religious and social affairs at a Greek Orthodox church miles away and over a bridge or tunnel in Brooklyn.

As reported on Fox News

We have people that are saying, why isn't our church being rebuilt and why is there ... such concern for people of the mosque?" Father Alex Karloutsos, assistant to the archbishop, told FoxNews.com. He said "religious freedom" would allow a place of worship for any denomination to be built, but accused officials with the Port Authority of making no effort to help move the congregation's project along.

"Unfortunately, they have just been silent -- dead silent, actually," said Karloutsos, whose father was ordained at St. Nicholas. "They just simply forgot about the church."

George Demos, of Greek descent and a Republican candidate for representative from Suffolk County, Long Island, NY, a distant suburban area of New York City, sent  a letter to the President, also published in Hellenic News .

[W]e can surely agree that it is an issue of national importance that the only house of worship actually destroyed on September 11, 2001, the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, be rebuilt. For the last year, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has refused to meet with Church officials and has placed bureaucratic roadblocks in way of rebuilding St. Nicholas Church.

The world is watching to see if the humble Church that stood as a quiet refuge at the crossroads of commerce will rise from the ashes of that fateful September morning and become a vibrant symbol of our faith and resiliency as a nation.

Mr. President, please stand up and defend our Judeo-Christian values, express your public and unwavering support for St. Nicholas Church, and ensure that it is rebuilt.


Speaking to about 120 Muslims at a break the daylight fast dinner in the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in the State Dining Room of the White House, Obama invoked the Constitution to explain why he felt Muslims have the right to build an Islamic community center/mosque in an area directly affected by destruction of the World Trade Center caused by their fellow Muslims. Acknowledging that "The 9/11 attacks were a deeply traumatic event for our country. The pain and suffering experienced by those who lost loved ones is unimaginable" he continued

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.

He echoed the sentiments of New York's Mayor Michael Bloomberg who earlier in the week, speaking at Governors Island with the Statue of Liberty in the background, surrounded by clergy of various faiths, argued


"Whatever you may think of the proposed mosque and community center, lost in the heat of the debate has been a basic question: Should government attempt to deny private citizens the right to build a house of worship on private property based on their particular religion? That may happen in other countries, but we should never allow it to happen here.

If this is applicable for the Muslims why isn't this also applicable for the St Nicholas Church, a church that pre dated the September 11 horror? Certainly the president and mayor could use their moral authority with the Port Authority to smooth the path for a new St Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church to be rebuilt in its original neighborhood. After all, it is written in the Constitution.