Saturday, May 03, 2008

Religious Sites of Flushing, Queens

From yesterday's NY Times, comes a video report by John Strausbaugh of the extraordinary religious diversity of Flushing. Here's another link to the article.
Fleeing persecution in England, members of the Society of Friends (also known, at first derisively, as Quakers) had begun to arrive in Flushing in the 1650s. Peter Stuyvesant, director general of New Netherland, saw them as dangerous radicals and forbade anyone in the colony to consort with them.

On Dec. 27, 1657, 30 citizens of Flushing, not Quakers themselves, signed a remarkable letter to him, now known as the Flushing Remonstrance. They refused to “stretch out our hands against” the Quakers, “to punish, banish or persecute them,” and reminded Stuyvesant that under Colonial law freedom of religion extended to “Jews, Turks and Egyptians” and “Presbyterian, Independent, Baptist or Quaker.”

Here's a taste of present diversity:

Today, across Northern Boulevard, on a single block of 33rd Avenue between Union Street and Parsons Boulevard, you can get a sense of how many different religions are practiced in Flushing.

There’s the small B’Nai Abraham synagogue on one corner, the Korean St. Paul Chong Ha-Sang Roman Catholic Chapel and Center around the other corner, the Evergreen Presbyterian Church in the middle of the block, and, right next door, the blue-topped dome and minaret of the Hazrat-I-Abubakr Sadiq mosque, opened in 1999 by the Afghan Turkistan Islamic Foundation in America.

Two blocks up Parsons Boulevard I turned right on Bayside Avenue, another leafy, almost suburban thoroughfare. There among the large, comfortable-looking single-family homes I came on the startling apparition of a soaring pagoda-roofed Buddhist temple still under construction. It’s being built by the Korean organization Hanmaum Seon Won, founded in the 1970s by a Buddhist nun, Dae Haeng Sunim. It’s typical of Flushing that a Christian Science reading room sits right next door.

And there's probably more diversity than is represented here!

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