All over the country, county and township officials have tried again and again to deny approval for the building of a mosque, accompanied by a virtual mob with pitchforks and torches spewing bigotry. And again and again, they lose in court because of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act. The latest is in New Jersey.
Bernards Township’s insistence that a proposed mosque have more parking spaces than churches or synagogues is unconstitutional, a federal judge said in a ruling filed New Year’s Eve.
U.S. District Court Judge Michael Shipp’s ruling eviscerates the township’s main reason for rejecting Islamic Society of Basking Ridge’s plan to build a mosque in the Liberty Corner section of town.The court victory is a turning point in the nearly four-year saga of the Islamic Society’s desire to move its worship from rented space to a mosque.
That plan, which triggered neighborhood opposition, went through 39 planning board meetings before being rejected in December of 2015. The mosque then sued, claiming the township’s requirement of a “supersized” parking lot was a perfect example of religious discrimination.
Noting that “mosques are under assault throughout the country,” the mosque’s attorney, Adeel Mangi, told Judge Shipp that parking requirements were the tool municipalities used to thwart construction of mosques.
Of course it was. Municipalities have offered up all kinds of pretexts like this to deny approval to a mosque, but inevitably a look at previous history finds that no such requirements were ever made for a Christian church. They’re just responding to the overwhelmingly Christian bigots demanding that the Muslims be driven out of town. And I find it endlessly amusing that they are stopped by a law that has been used to defend Christian churches all over the country. In fact, that’s really why it was written. It really should have been called the Christian Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act.