Over two centuries ago, Catholics in Lower Manhattan dealt with many of the same issues that modern day Muslims are facing today. In 1785, there was an uproar over the proposed location of St. Peter’s Church and although it happened over 225 years ago, sounds eerily similar to the current opposition surrounding Park51.
The New York Times provides some historical context:
City officials in 18th-century New York urged project organizers to change the church’s initial location, on Broad Street, in what was then the heart of the city, to a site outside the city limits, at Barclay and Church. Unlike the organizers of Park51, who have resisted suggestions they move the project to avoid having a mosque so close to the killing field of ground zero, the Catholics complied.
You see, in those days, Catholicism was the suspect religion with foreign ties to a nefarious body attempting to destroy the United States that the pope would one day rule over.