This pastor is giving Christians a bad name. He thinks all terrorists are Muslims, wants a background check on all Muslims who are trying to set up a mosque in the small town of Carnegie.
The Rev. Keith Tucci preaches from a pulpit more than an hour from Carnegie, but he’s concerned about a different religious community’s plans to relocate there.
Tucci, pastor of the Living Hope Church in Latrobe, said he has “serious concerns” about members of a Muslim mosque who want to move to a former Presbyterian church in the heart of Carnegie’s business district. Tucci said he and members of his congregation will travel to Carnegie on Monday to pass out “informational packets” about the Muslim faith.
“I have questions: Who are these people? Are they American citizens? Has anyone done a background check on them?” said Tucci, whose church is part of a national network of Bible-based churches with headquarters in Reserve, La., according to its website. “I’m not saying all Muslims are terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslims. We need more information about these people before they are allowed to move in and ruin a community.”
Carnegie Councilman Rick D’Loss, president of the borough’s synagogue, Congregation Ahavath Achim, said some residents asked questions about the plan for the building but generally expressed support.
“In a town of 8,000 people, of course you’ll have some dissenting opinions, but Carnegie is a very inclusive place,” D’Loss said. “Muslims have rights just like anyone else, and they can pray as they choose. It’s a shame that we have to keep telling people that. I find it funny that a group is going to drive all the way from Westmoreland to tell us we shouldn’t allow the Muslims to be in our community.
“If we say no Muslims, then we have to say no Jews, too. Then what?”
The borough council on June 14 approved the Attawheed Islamic Center’s request to convert the 19,000-square-foot stone and brick building along East Main Street into a place for prayer and religious education. No residents expressed opposition at a public hearing about the mosque or during the council meeting that followed. The Muslim group rents space on Banksville Road.
Even with council approval, it’s unclear when the group would move into the building, which needs extensive repairs, including a roof. Al-Walid Mohsen, vice president and manager of the Attawheed Islamic Center, did not return calls for comment.
Police Chief Jeff Harbin, who is the part-time borough manager, said the Living Hope Church group has a right to come to Carnegie and pass out information and talk about concerns, as long as they do so peacefully.
“I grew up in Carnegie, and we tend to welcome everyone,” Harbin said. “We believe in the right of people to express their opinions, and we respect the First Amendment. People are free to disagree.”