Sunday, October 10, 2010

Mosque hearings turning into farce

An editorial in today's Murfreesboro newspaper The Daily News Journal argues that the hearing before the Rutherford County Chancery Court regarding the Murfressboro Mosque has turned into a farce. The hearing was supposed to be about challenges to the county's zoning rules and alleged Sunshine Law violations surrounding public notice for the meeting at which the approval for construction of the mosque was approved. Instead of the narrow question at issue, the court has allowed the plaintiffs in the suit to argue that Islam is not really a religion and that local Muslims are intent on replacing the Constitution with the Islamic legal code of Shariah law.

I agree with the DNJ. The court should stick to the narrow issue of whether or not the Rutherford County Regional Planning Commission followed the law in approving the zoning change. It is not or should not be within the purview of this Court to decide if the Muslim faith is a real religion.

Here is an excerpt from the editorial:

The First Amendment protection of religious freedom is one of the fundamental principles that governs our republic and arguably its most important. Yes, the founding of this nation had decidedly Judeo-Christian influences, but the founding fathers knew that mixing religion and government could easily lead to the destruction of both. Freedom of religion means just that.

While Muslims make up only a small, but growing percentage of America's population, Islam is a faith that goes back thousands of years and boasts over 1 billion followers worldwide. Yes, the terrorists elements committing heinous acts in the name of Islam are a cause of great concern, but that tiny fraction of Muslim extremists doesn't suddenly mean all Muslims have to prove to every Joe Blow who asks that they're not a terrorist or terrorist sympathizer. (link)
I have been embarrassed by this controversy. It makes Murfressboro look like a bigoted backwater. I am also embarrassed by those local conservative activist, including candidates for office (who thankfully lost their primary contest), who have taken a position of opposition to the First Amendment. Some of those who have chosen to take a stand in opposition to the Mosque are unfortunately constitution waving activist. I have little in common with that brand of conservatism. They are very selective of their love of the Constitution. I am sure they love the Second Amendment and the Tenth, but they don't care much for the First and they don't seem to care much for the Fourth either. Don't claim to love the Constitution if you want to prohibit Muslims from building a house of worship. That is not conservatism but a nativist nationalism.

I agree with the argument above that says that because a tiny fraction of Muslim are terrorist, not every Muslim is obligated to prove they are not a terrorist. Every Italian should not have to prove they are not a member of the Mafia. Every white person should not have to prove they are not a member of the KKK. That is un-American. In America, you should not have to prove what you are not.

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