Multi-American | How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Christian church confused for mosque, draws opposition

The dome under construction at the La Luz Del Mundo church in Phoenix, October 2010
The dome under construction at the La Luz Del Mundo church in Phoenix, October 2010
Photo by Lotus_7/Flickr (Creative Commons)

Oh, Arizona.

This latest story out of the Grand Canyon State involves not undocumented immigrants, but Christians erroneously believed to be Muslims.

KPHO, a Phoenix CBS affiliate, reports that "concerned neighbors" have been phoning leaders of the local La Luz del Mundo (The Light of the World) church over a new church building under construction that has a large dome, and which the concerned townsfolk have mistaken for an Islamic mosque. Church members have been forced to put up a banner on the dome, pointing out that it is a Christian house of worship they are building.

The story is yet another example of raging anti-Muslim fervor, the craze that is sweeping the nation, from Temecula (where residents have protested the building of an actual mosque) to New York City (no need to explain) to Oklahoma, where voters overwhelmingly approved a state initiative banning Islamic law, though there is no known instance of it ever having been cited in Oklahoma courts.

As for La Luz Del Mundo, it is a Pentecostal Christian denomination with roots in Guadalajara, Mexico (and yes, there is an odd irony to Latino Christians being pegged as Muslims, the new cultural wedge minority). Phoenix New Times had a story earlier this month on the church and the building plans. From the story:

The renderings on La Luz's website scream "Big Zany Mosque!" and I can't wait to see the completed building.

Here's the television news report:

The story has provoked disgust but also a smattering of humor in the comments sections of liberal blogs like Daily Kos and Think Progress, both of which have picked it up. A sample comment from Daily Kos, posted by "Decisivemoment:"

They'll be here in Chicago next thing you know, picketing the Adler Planterarium, the Shedd Aquarium and for all I know even the Bahai shrine in Wilmette. Then it will be on to any shopping mall atrium that has a dome. And then . . . . OMG . . . . the US Capital is a covert mosque!! Aaaaaggghghgh! And almost every state legislature meets in a mosque!!!! The horror, the horror . . . . get me some tinfoil, quick!