Islamic Group gets OK to Strip New York Catholic Church of its Crosses
A Muslim group received approval on Thursday from Syracuse city officials to remove six crosses from a century-old Catholic church that is being turned into a mosque.
Syracuse's Landmark Preservation Board approved the North Side Learning Center's request to make changes to the architecture of the former Holy Trinity Catholic Church - but not before it drew the ire of several residents.
More than 200 people signed an online petition asking the board to stop the group from taking down the Christian symbols and installing a 6-foot chain-link fence, citing the building's history.
Donald Law, whose great-great-grandfather helped build the church after immigrating from Germany, was upset about the decision.
"When you come into the north side of Syracuse, it's the first thing you see. I don't see how destroying a church will help the neighborhood," Law told CNY Central.
But the building has been sitting empty for quite some time. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Syracuse closed the church in 2010 and merged the parish with St. John the Baptist because of a declining congregation as population shifted from the city to suburbs.
The North Side Learning Center bought the vacant building, along with the adjacent rectory and school, for about $150,000 in December.
The non-profit group provides literacy education to the neighborhood’s growing population of refugees from Burma, Bhutan and Somalia.
They plan to move the school onto the Trinity campus. They also want to rent the church out as a mosque. In order to do that, they would need to remove the crosses. The center’s director, Yusuf Soule, explained to Syracuse.com that Islam doesn’t allow its followers to worship idols or symbols.
The Landmark Preservation Board agreed that it was the religious rights of the new owners to remove the crosses.
Neighbor Steve Angelaro is disappointed.
"This is a betrayal by the board,” he said. “I don't have a problem with any religious group being allowed to freely worship. This is a historic landmark, and the craftsmanship, character and design of the building are irreplaceable."
Friday, April 4, 2014
Muslims of Syracuse, NY To Remove the Crosses of Christ
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