Middle school students at St. Bernardine Catholic School in Forest Park debate the merits of building a mosque near Ground Zero.

‘Not all Muslims are terrorists’

Even though the proposed mosque is being built two blocks away from where 9/11 happened, I think that it’s still OK to build it. I get that 9/11 was a tragic day, but if we don’t let Muslims build the mosque, we’re breaking the First Amendment. The U.S. is a free country and not all Muslims are terrorists.

Erin, St. Bernardine , 7th grade

A diverse nation

I personally think that building a mosque is fine because we wrote in the amendments that freedom of religion is a right. Some people disagree with me simply because Muslims are going to build it by Ground Zero. We are a very diverse nation with different religions. I think a diverse nation stands out more than other countries and makes us a special nation.

Ada, St. Bernardine, 7th grade

‘Put away the past’

I think the people should build the mosque because it’s freedom of religion, so they have a right. Also, it will be a community center that gives everybody a chance to learn about Muslim culture. Building something new that is also educational is a way for people to understand a different culture. 9/11 was not all Muslims’ fault. We have to put the past away and start fresh.

Giana, St. Bernardine, 7th grade

Peace offer

My original opinion was that the mosque should be left unbuilt. But when I read more about it, I realized that not allowing the Cordoba Center to be built is an outright violation of the First Amendment. It’s like saying religious freedom for all except for you, because we still blame your whole religion for something a few people did. Following the constitution only when it suits you is never going to bring anything good to America. If the Cordoba Center is being erected as a sign and offer of peace, I have no idea why people shouldn’t let them.

Helen, St. Bernardine, 8th grade

Helping the community

I think Muslims have the right to build their mosque by Ground Zero because it wasn’t their fault for the 9/11 attack. It was only a few individuals who crashed the planes into the towers. Plus, the constitution says there is freedom of religion, which means they should have the right to build there. Other religions get to build churches, temples or other religious structures without having to go through what the Muslim mosque has to go through. Also, the mosque will have a community center which will help the community. That’s why I think Muslims have the right to build near Ground Zero.

Grant, St. Bernardine, 7th grade

‘I don’t think Americans are ready yet’

Muslims have the constitutional right to build a place where they can pray and have peace. However, does it have to be near Ground Zero? I don’t think Americans are ready yet. Somewhere else in NYC would be more respectful.

Shawna, St. Bernardine, 8th grade

Not appropriate

I believe this is not the appropriate place for a mosque due to the conflict it has and will continue to produce. Using this subject as a point to support our freedoms is not appropriate. I don’t think freedom of religion would be abused if the mosque was built elsewhere. I believe the mosque should be built at a location where it would be supported and respected by all. If people are unhappy with the building, it would not be a thriving addition to the community, but a bitter reminder of the 9/11 disaster.

Lauren, St. Bernardine, 8th grade


I am against the mosque being built at Ground Zero because I believe nothing should be built in the place of the Twin Towers. There are other places to build a mosque and I don’t understand why Muslims want to build there. I feel building on that land would be disrespectful to the memories of all the people who died that day. I wonder if they are trying to remind us of their success in attacking our country.

Trae, St. Bernardine, 8th grade

Peace, forgiveness and tolerance

I think Muslims want to build a cultural center to try to promote peace, not rub our faces about what some did on 9/11. I don’t think we should punish all Muslims. People find building a mosque rude and insensitive, but I don’t see how it’s more offensive than a bar or off track betting parlor a few blocks away from Ground Zero. People keep saying move it down a couple of blocks, but then it wouldn’t be making the same point – the cultural center is trying to promote peace, forgiveness and tolerance!

Natalie, St. Bernardine, 8th grade

Shock and revulsion

When I heard of the plans to build a mosque at the site of the horrific terrorist attack on our country, I was shocked and felt revulsion. It seemed to me that this was blatant disrespect. I believe that the Muslim community does have a constitutional right, but that doesn’t make it right. If the message most Muslims are trying to send is “we are not like the extremists,” would it not be better to move the building to a different site?

Maddy, St. Bernardine, 8th grade