Tennessee Ruling against Mosque Construction is a Ruling against Religious Freedom Across America
Rather than upholding the precious values and laws written in the Constitution, this week, a judge in Tennessee ruled against the building of a mosque in Murfreesboro, TN. The First Amendment unequivocally states that government is prohibited from establishing a national religion or denying Americans their right to exercise (or not) their faith.
According to Tennessee state law, one of the conditions for approving construction of a building is to provide adequate public notice. Two years ago, the planning of the mosque was approved after a four-day public debate and trial put on by bigoted challengers of religious freedom. This week’s ruling against the final construction of the mosque was due to the judge’s interpretation of inadequate notice in the local newspaper which was “in relatively small type near the bottom of a page which contained a number of advertisements and legal notices…”
To be clear, what really happened was a sustained campaign of hate by a small, yet effective, anti-religious freedom movement in Tennessee. For more than two years, this group, led by the World Outreach Church, has been opposing the construction of a mosque citing, as the pastor of the group put it, “[having] a duty to investigate anyone under the banner of Islam.”
In October 2010, the Department of Justice filed a brief in support of the construction of the mosque citing that mosques are places of worship and the county in Tennessee must treat it as any other place of worship. “This is not only common sense; it is required by federal law. The Justice Department is committed to protecting rights of Americans of all faiths to build places of worship and to worship in peace,” said Thomas Perez, Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights.
Currently, civil rights organizations are seeking further action from the Justice Department to protect the mosque and allow its final phases of construction.
All across the nation, bigoted anti-Muslim groups have been vocalizing their hatred and opposition to the construction of mosques simply because they are the places of worship for Muslims. For this judge in Tennessee to actually institutionalize hate into legal judgment is beyond fathomable. Judges are required to uphold the Constitution—not rule against it!
The right for American Muslims to worship freely is under attack, and for Murfreesboro to challenge one of the most precious freedoms this nation upholds is wrong. America purports to be a leader worldwide on promoting and upholding religious freedom. Sadly, in Murfreesboro, TN, hate prevails over justice and bigots are stealing the treasures of America’s religious freedom.
Hatred has no place in our national conscience. Indeed our nation’s strength lies in its diversity. Robert F. Kennedy once said: “Ultimately, America’s answer to the intolerant man is diversity, the very diversity which our heritage of religious freedom has inspired.” No truer words have been spoken—and especially in a time when freedom of religion in America is being challenged.