From the Daily News:
The crusade against a proposed mosque near Ground Zero turned Biblical Sunday as a fire-and-brimstone Florida preacher declared that those behind it will "burn in hell."The News focuses on his anti-Muslim views, but that's just the tip of the iceberg. Then again, so does the New York Times, which notes in passing that Glenn Beck is worshiping a false faith.
"All these people will die and burn in hell," Bill Keller told a crowd of 40 people gathered to hear his sermon at the New York Marriott Downtown overlooking Ground Zero.
"Islam is not and has never been a religion of peace," he said. "How could you build bridges with people who ask their Muslim brothers to fly a plane into the twin towers and killed thousands of innocent people?"
It's inflammatory rhetoric like Keller's that has supporters of the mosque most worried: They say it is wrong to tarnish the entire Muslim religion because of the actions of a few.
Many opposed to the Park51 project have also dismissed the Muslim-bashing preacher, fearing they'll be lumped in with his bigoted and racist views.
Keller doesn't just go after the Park51/Cordoba House group, but is up to his eyeballs in hatred towards homosexuals, Mormons, and even pushed the conspiracy theory that President Obama isn't a US citizen for purposes of becoming President.
Keller is currently operating out of a conference room at the Marriott next door to Ground Zero on West Street. His followers published flyers that were plastered all around Ground Zero promoting his Sunday sermon, but curiously didn't note the hate-filled bilge he was peddling.
Mind you, Keller has every right to peddle that hate (so long as he isn't promoting violence and is within the law) as it is protected both under the freedom of religion and freedom of speech protected by the First Amendment.
So, while the attention largely remains on the Cordoba House proposal for a community center and mosque, Keller's hate goes largely unremarked upon.
AOL News has more, including a copy of Keller's "sermon", which includes claims that Gahndi was a nice person, but was in hell presumably because he was not a Christian. A crowd of about 50 showed up, with most members of various media outlets.
Between 40 and 50 people attended the hour-and-a-half long event, which began at 11 a.m. and was held in the ballroom of the New York Marriott Downtown hotel, located across the street from ground zero. Although members of the press made up nearly half of the audience, it was unclear how many of the roughly 20-odd non-media-affiliated attendees there because they wanted to actually worship, versus the number gathered there based on their curiosity of Keller and his goals.
For example, Richard Borowski, who supports the controversial mosque project called Park51, said that he attended the service under the assumption that Keller "was coming out strongly against the mosque," but was surprised to hear the televangelist "pretty much come out in favor of it."
"We have a firewall between church and state to keep our country from being ruled by any one religion," Borowski told AOL News Surge Desk once the service had concluded, "Nothing would uphold and demonstrate that more than the construction of [both of] these houses of worship."
Even the speaker who preceded Keller during the service, Vincent Forras, a 9/11 volunteer and first responder, said he still had "not made his mind up" about the fiery televangelist or his project, although he did confess to being against the construction of Park51. Forras, who credits his Christian faith for his survival during a secondary building collapse on Sept. 11, is co-founder of the Gear Up Foundation, a charity for other 9/11 first responders.
Throughout Keller's sermon, two protesters who appeared to be 9/11 "Truthers," sporadically heckled Keller, shouting various denunciations, including "Liar!" at him from the crowd. At one point, a man rose and unfurled a red flag, before loudly shouting that Keller was "a false prophet," before being escorted out by Keller's bodyguards.