Religion NIMBYs

The Tennessean published a pretty good article from Bob Smietana over the weekend that dealt with a Muslim groups defeated mosque-permit application. The article discusses familiar themes of NIMBYism and is laced with Islamophobic sentiments from the most vocal opponents of the project:

Matt Bonner, who lives in Nashville but is a member of Brentwood United Methodist Church, helped organize resistance to the mosque.

“Not enough people understand the political doctrine of Islam,” he said in an interview before the mosque project was withdrawn. “The fact is that the mosques are more than just a church. No one can predict what this one will be used for.”

Read on and you’ll see that the project was relatively small and the perceived impact slight. Smietana casts the defeat in a broader context of opposition to religious sites, generally, and those of minority religions specifically.

Though he takes a little while to get there, Smietana does give some support for the nutgraph about how such resistance to houses of worship is a growing problem. And he even mentions the federal law — the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act — that provides some recourse for religious organizations that feel they are being discriminated against for what a rep of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty calls the “holy trinity of religious land use lawsuits — complaints about noises, traffic and congestion.”

This is all spot on. I know because five years ago I wrote a similar story about two Inland Empire Hindu groups that saw their applications to build a temple denied:

“I believe your decision, if not against the U.S. Constitution, is against its spirit,’ wrote resident Anne Pyle, a Catholic. “Your arguments are farfetched and seem racist if not down right prejudice.’

The experiences were similar to those of the Brentwood Muslim group, except for the perceived-terrorist element. But it begs the question, and it’s one really not addressed in Smietana’s article, of how often building permits are denied to churches or synagogues.

The suggestion is that it occurs, but for only some of the same reasons and likely less frequently.

The former, at least in this case, is certainly true — not a lot of fearmongering that a new Episcopal church is going to be used as a recruitment center for latter-day Crusaders. But what about the latter?

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  • Liz Busby

    As I’m sure you’re aware, the LDS church has had many similar problems with temples and even chapels. See here for the most recent one in Boston: http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2010/02/25/brookline_neighbors_still_have_concerns_about_planned_mormon_chapel/

  • Dave

    This kind of story is, alas, all too familiar to Pagans. There’s one going on right now in upstate New York, where the zoning board has been taken to court and has openly admitted that its motive is to discourage similar land uses. Google Maetreum of Cybele.

  • Jerry

    Brad,

    I’m glad to see that article having seen that issue manifest where I live.

    I’ve attended meetings and been involved with projects where this has come up. One example was that the city wanted to build a structure to be used by community groups, including adolescent groups in a park. This was attacked as bringing crime to the neighbors because, of course, it would be a hotbed of gang-related activity.

    I also have seen where the issue has been exacerbated when religion was involved so I found the story accurate from personal experience.

    I think the key point is that any construction project can raise legitimate issues that need to be addressed in a spirit of cooperation. There are no doubt counterexamples, but in every case I’ve seen, those seeking to build the church, temple or mosque have been willing to meet with neighbors and to modify their plans to meet legitimate concerns.

    But when opponents go to extremes such as lying about things and seeking to create fear and anger which I’ve seen, we should ask who is the source of Truth and who is the source of lies.

  • Deacon John M. Bresnahan

    Just for balance I would like to see some surveys in the media of how Christian houses of worship are treated in various predominantly Moslem countries–both with regard to being allowed to repair already existing structures and with regard to being allowed to build new structures.
    In Saudi Arabia Christian worship is only allowed inside homes–and even then they are sometimes raided. In Egypt repair permits for churches are rarely granted (even though Coptic Egyptians are the real natives of Egypt –not Arab Moslems). In other Moslem countries no steeples or identifying architecture are allowed (no bells, of course.)
    In Turkey the native Greek Orthodox are being harassed and driven out of the country and Istanbul. One way they are doing it is by not allowing their historic buildings to be used–including their main seminary, as I recall.
    The only media coverage of any consequence I’ve seen or read lately along these lines is a recent excellent 60 Minutes expose on how the Orthodox (and other Christians) are treated miserably in Turkey.
    So, if some who may know of the way Christians are treated in most Moslem majority countries, are worried about the influx of Moslems in some places, they are not necessarily being irrationally “islamophobic” but could be
    being impelled by historical facts the mainstream media tends to not cover (although many Christian internet sites and publications could educate the MSM in this area).

  • http://goodintentionsbook.com Bob Smietana

    Hi Brad:

    As far as I can tell, no one tracks zoning permits for churches. The Becket Fund used to track RLUIPA lawsuits, but doesn’t anymore. In Brentwood, there’s been 15 requests for rezoning in the past 10 years, as the story pointed out, and 5 have failed or been withdraw. Three of those that failed involved new buildings.

    The “Islamic countries don’t allow churches” argument was in my 60 inch first draft of the story, which had been budgeted for 30–and I eventually got about 42 for the story.

  • Bern

    Deacon, you are correct but the fact that Islamic governments around the world repress the building, repair and use of minority sites of worship hardly excuses those that would and do the same in the United States of America. Please don’t give that as excuse for the NIMBY’s–it’s unAmerican and absurd.

  • Brad A. Greenberg

    60!?! Must have been some painful pruning.

    Thanks for the response, Bob. I knew I could count on you to be reading.

  • http://getreligion.org Bobby

    Bob, not really on topic, but: Do your original longer versions ever run online, or is it basically the print version that is published on the website? Would there be any benefit to “expanded versions” of stories online, or would that create more issues than it would solve?

  • http://goodintentionsbook.com Bob Smietana

    Bobby

    It’s a good idea -but pulling it of would be a headache. Editors would have to do twice the work — editing a long and short version, then there’s the issue of double posting stories– do you post both long and shorter versions–and how do you automate that?

  • Brad A. Greenberg

    Bobby, I know some newspapers have toyed with this possibility. The problem is that the longer story still requires the full editing, which editors seem reluctant to do. There also seem to be some issues that arise when multiple versions of a story are out.

  • Deacon John M. Bresnahan

    Bern–for decades the Communist Party was virtually outlawed in this country because part of its politicval philosphy was to violently overthrow governments and set up Communist dictatorships. So, although political parties are supposed to have full freedom here, the Communist Party was usually treated as an exception to this rule.
    Looking at the way Moslems persecute and regularly kill Christians-and other non-Moslems– in majority Moslem countries, I don’t think we have an obligation to help that happen here. The Supreme Court on some other issue said that the Constitution is not a suicide pact. So it is not unconstitutional to raise this issue of Moslem respect for the rights of others who they consider “infidels” nor absurd to expect the media to give some coverage to this aspect of groups seeking permits.

  • http://www.DyspepsiaGeneration.com Tim of Angle

    The essential fact that needs to be remembered here is that Islam is not just a religion, but an oppressive totalitarian ideology whose avowed purpose is to annex every other human being, by force if necessary. Neither Judaism nor Christianity spent a thousand years attempting to conquer the world. From that perspective, a mosque is not just a place of worship, but a bridgehead by an invading force. Hence all the silly parallels with other religions are irrelevant and merely demonstrate that some people either can’t or won’t make crucial distinctions.

  • http://goodintentionsbook.com Bob Smietana

    Deacon and Tim:

    Let me get this right.
    Predominantly Muslim countries don’t allow churches to be build.
    You think that’s a bad thing.
    Your solution–don’t let Muslims, who are US citizen and who moved here because they value, among others things, the freedom to worship as they choose–have a place to worship.
    So, besides being unconstitutional–this makes the US better how?
    Tim – please read some church history about the role of Christianity in empires.

  • http://goodintentionsbook.com Bob Smietana

    That’s built – not build.

  • Liz Busby

    Bob: I believe you may have missed some major sarcasm on Tim’s part.

  • http://www.mormoninmichigan.blogspot.com John Pack Lambert

    The studies went through to pass the RLUIPA and earlier the Religious Freedom Restoration Act showed that minority groups face more opposition.

    It is true that some of the attacks on Muslim places of worship are unique, but at heart discrimination based denials are common.

    A few cases. The Phoenix LDS Temple went back to the drawing board after the local community group successfully got a balot petition for a vote to overturn the rezoning allowing the temple. This effort was put on life-support and sustained by the Arizona Republic. The Republic not only engaged in publishing over-wrought size comparisons to make the temple seem a huge structure, but commentators clearly said they were opposing it because they did not want the Mormons taking over political control of their area, or more Mormon missionaries coming by their door.

    Anyone who understands LDS Temples knows the second objection was 100% false and the first one has little connection with reality. In fact at least 10% of comments posted on the Republic website were essentially “The Mormons passed Prop 8, so now we are going to get revenge by preventing them from building a temple”. This is all the more interesting because Prop 102, which was word for word the same as Prop 8, was passed as an admendment to the Arizona Constitution the same day Prop 8 was passed. The LDS Church openly supported Prop 102, with speakers in Sacrament meeting urging members to support the measure, so the reason to focus on Prop 8 has nothing to do with different Mormon support, but may reflect different media coverage, and that many of these extreme Mormon haters commenting on the web did not live in Arizona.

    Even more interesting were the people who openly admitted “this is America, if it were a Christian Church I would support it being built, but I oppose the Mormons”. Besides the fact that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a Christian Church, the notion that non-Christians can not build places of worship in the US flies in the face of the First Admendment.

    In Pennsylvania there was a case where a synagogue had purchased a former convent and was seeking for slight chances so they could hold worship there. Neighbors openly said “I do not want a synagogue in my back yard”. Even scarier, an anti-religious freedom activist who is a professor at NYU openly expressed support for the stance of the neighbors.

    In New Jersey there was a case so egregious that then US Attorney Chris Christy (now the governor of New Jersey) filed a brief in favor of the mosque. After several unprecedented moves to block the building of the mosque, and many complaints against Muslim worship practices at township council meetings, the township moved to aquire the mosque land as open space through emminent domain, something that it had never done before and in total violation of its open-space preservation code.

  • http://www.mormoninmichigan.blogspot.com John Pack Lambert

    I just realized this story is very interesting. The Nashville area seems to be a bastion of shooting down buildings by religious groups that are not seen to be in the mainstream.

    Forest Hills, Tennessee, another Nashville suburb, was a key part of testimony leading to RLUIPA. Essentially Forest Hills prior to RLUIPA had used zoning laws to establish a certain churches and exclude all others.

    The only place where this played out more was in Beachwood, Ohio where the over 80% Jewish population voted against allowing rezoning for Orthodox Synagogues (after the city council approved rezoning and a group pushed the vote to the public) specifically because the Reformed Jews of Beachwood did not want to have Orthodox Jewish neighbors.

    In about 1991, just after the freedom killing decision of Employment Division v. Smith, Forest Hills passed a law making churches allowed uses only in religion/education zoning areas. They then proceded to make religion/education zoning to only cover existing built-on sites with such structures.

    In about 1994 the LDS Church decided to build a temple in the Nashville Area. A site was found in Forest Hills and a re-zoning request filed. This was turned down on the grounds it was too residential a neighborhood.

    The Church then purchased a site at a major cross-roads. There were four churches in Forest Hills at the time. Two of them were directly across the street from this proposed temple site, and another ajacent to one of the directly opposite Churches. The temple site had previously been a church site, but that building had been torn down before the 1991 adoption of the current zoning system.

    The temple site was about 20 acres, the general lot size in the city, if nt a bit on the large size. The temple was within about five feet the height of the neighboring churches, and smaller in square footage than one of them. The city turned down re-soning because they claimed it would undermine the “rural estate” character of the city, and won in court. The Church gave up on the plans to build the temple there and instead built a temple in Franklin, Tennessee.

    The free exercise of religion is closely connected with having a place to exercise it. This fact seems to be missed by many reporters. It seems like the concerns of neighbors are always included in articles, but the talk of over-crowded churches or driving huge distances to attend meetings that are at the heart of seeking to build new places of worship is almost universally ignored. While a representative of the Church might say such, with neighbors they get to go on about their wrecked view or increased traffic, while I have yet to see inclusion of a story from a person about standing in the back of a church, or the difficulty of the long drives they currently have to do to attend religious meetings.

  • http://jerseymcjones.blogspot.com/ Jersey McJones

    Is the good deacon suggesting we should be more like communist or Islamic states? That we are already like those states? That the Christian majority here is suffering persecution from Moslems? What the heck is he saying???

    JMJ

  • http://www.mormoninmichigan.blogspot.com John Pack Lambert

    Deacon John,
    The problem is that while Muslim countires generally do not have a constitutional principal for “free exercise” of religion, we do in the Us, so we have set up a high standard.

    That said, this type of tactic is used against all sorts of religious groups. Evangelical Churches that hold a religious tenet of the need for joint worship suffer a lot.

  • Brad A. Greenberg

    Bob: I believe you may have missed some major sarcasm on Tim’s part.

    I guess I did too. But I need to mention that this conversation is veering off the topic of how the media covers religion. Let’s stay on-point.

  • http://www.mormoninmichigan.blogspot.com John Pack Lambert

    Bob,
    You have a good point. I think it would also be good if reporters pointed out that preventing a Church from being built because you dislike the teachings of the Church violates the 1st Admendment.

    The point of RLUIPA was not that there was no ban on such outright discrimination, but that it is hard to prove. While there are certainly enough idiots out there who openly say “I hate the Catholic Church and will vote against any rezoning request by them” and there are no lack of audience members who will say “what are you looking at, Mormon” the last term said with a full measure of hate and disdain, these are the exceptions, not the rules.

    The rule is to claim “too residential”, “traffic concerns”, “building beyond the zone of development” (the first and third were at different times used in California), or even objections to allowing a non-tax generating use.

    In a place where churches are allowed in any zoning the argument becomes “the Church will lead to that section of the street becoming full of commenrcial establishments”, while in another place it is said that Churches are not in line with industrial zoning.

    Another issue that reporters miss is that the design of a Church has religious purpose. In Massachusetts the gripers say “we would not oppose the Mormon chapel in Brookline if it were not so large”. As it is, Mormon chapels are built 10% or more smaller than they were in the 1970s.

    Still, since Mormons meet for 3 hours, and have breakout meetings, they need a full array of rooms to meet religious needs. They also need a baptismal faunt that a person can be immersed in (well, that is avoidable, but it is nice).

    In like manners, Hindu, Buddhist, Eastern Orthodox, Catholic, Muslim and Jewish groups all build religious buildings in their own way. The design of a building is closely reflected in architecture, and even for Mormons and Protestants who technically can have church meetings in the open air, realistically full religious practice can only be done in a building, and while rented rooms might suffice, a real, owned building is essential to proselyte, which is central to religious freedom.

    Thus any complaints against Muslims using Mosq

  • http://www.mormoninmichigan.blogspot.com John Pack Lambert

    I accidentally posted my comment before I finished it.

    I meant to say any complaints against Muslims using Mosques to spread Islam are inherently expressions of views and actions in violation of the First Admendment.

    All religious groups have equal right to seek recruits in the USA. Muslims have every right to seek and obtain converts. They also have every right to seek to encorage woman to dress modestly, in whatever way they may seek.

    No matter how much you think a women showing her hair is central to her being a free and thinking individual, she has a full right to cover her head with the hijab if she so chooses.

    The way to develop good relationships between Muslims and other Americans and the way to end the power of Islamist militants to recruit in America is to let the Mosques be built. Every time radical hate of others is used to stop the freedoms gauranteed in the Constitution we add more to the power of terrorists.

  • http://www.mormoninmichigan.blogspot.com John Pack Lambert

    Bob,
    I have to say that your article is one of the best I have read in a long time. I wish they had let you do the full 60 inches.

    The point that these Muslims pay taxes was quite appropriate. It is something missed in these discussions. Often people act like the members of religious groups do not pay taxes. Religious groups do nnot pay taxes, but in the case of property taxes, this would be a way to exclude Churches for large areas. It is hard enough to get the money to buy land, especially with the ever increasing size of lot requirements being used against Churches, but if they had to pay property taxes they would have to abandon their properties more often.

    On the other hand this is hardly NIMBY. 14 acres is a good piece of land, and since most of it is flood plains and the Mosque is by a park, it is hard to figure out whose backyard this is. This is more like NIMC “Not in my County”.

    So much for “souther hospitality”. It looks like religious freedom is rare in America. I hope these Muslims are able to find a new location for their Mosque.

  • http://goodintentionsbook.com Bob Smietana

    He can correct me if I am wrong but I don’t believe Tim of Angle was joking.

  • http://goodintentionsbook.com Bob Smietana

    John,

    I knew that there’s been trouble in getting temple built in Nashville in the 1990s. Didn’t know that the temple was part of the RLUIPIA hearings. Thanks

  • Deacon John M. Bresnahan

    I guess I wasn’t clear enough. The main points I was trying to make were that 1. Fear of Islam is NOT an irrational fear just as fear of Communism was not an irrational fear based on their teachings and proven actions when they get power.
    2. In case after case of terrorism here and in Europe mosques have been the centers of terrorist agitation and/or action and if we could do something under our Constitution (which protects political speech and action as much as religious speech and action) to protect ourselves from a political party’s (Communist) dangerous philosophies and encouragement of illegal actions, then it should be acceptable to make sure permits aren’t being issued to religious groups or organizations who –like Communist organizations–may be out to use our very freedoms to destroy freedom for everyone else but themselves (as in virtually all Moslem majority countries).
    My complaint is that there is a very pollyanish view of Islam in this country not based on factual data and that the media is at least partially responsible for this pollyanish view that could lead to our destruction just as the Turks have virtually wiped out Christian Orthodoxy in a country that used to be heavily Greek Orthodox. Even today Moslem Turkey threatens in various ways every other country that dares to even mention the Holocaust of the Armenian Christians by them–Here in america our government has been intimidated into being very quiescent on this issue in spite of the pleadings of Armenian-American Christians.(Are we already becoming “Dhimmis” on our own to please Moslem countries????)

  • Dave

    Deacon, this is a bit of a backreach for me but I’m pretty sure some of the stuff the US did against the domestic Communist Party at the height of the Cold War was thrown out by the Supreme Court on constitutional grounds. So action against “the threat of Islam” (however you define that) might not be as easy as you suggest.

  • Deacon John M. Bresnahan

    Dave–Certain specific convictions of Communists have been thrown out for various reasons by the U.S. Supreme Court. But in 1957 the Court upheld the Smith Act and approved its application in certain instances. For example, active participation in or “VERBAL ENCOURAGEMENT” of insurrectionary activities. Liberal courts have tried to chip away at the Smith Act, but according to internet info I read on the law, the Smith Act has never been overturned by the Supreme Court.
    There is no reason it could not be applied to a religion as well as a political party. And we know some mosques and their imams have been involved in terrorist acts against our nation (the “Blind Sheik” in New York, for example, in the first Twin Tower bombings). Thus, I should think, given historical facts, it would be very constitutional for people in a neighborhood to examine the background of an Islamic group wanting to build a mosque next door and if they find its promoters have any kind of connection to, for instance, the violent Wahabbi sect or activists of al-Quaeda type, turn down their request for a permit for that reason alone.

  • http://www.mormoninmichigan.blogspot.com John Pack Lambert

    One issue at the heart of such zoning disputes is illustrated by this report.

    When people gripe about flooding and “political activism” by a religious group, does their objection to the later invalidate the objection to the former?

    If we turned it around, and had people protesting the building of a synagogue because of support of Zionism by Jews, would people see things in the same way?

    If mere connection with law breakers was grounds for banning a religious group than all sorts of things could be done. Since Catholic Bishops intentionally reasigned priests so that issues of child sexual abuse would not go public, could we not ban all Catholic attempts to build new Churches? No, the idea is too ludicrous to even consider.

    Another issue is, since Westerboro Baptist Church protests at military funerals, maybe all baptists should be excluded from the chaplaincy in the military. This is an equally bizarre idea that has equal lacking of logic.

    Free exercise of religion does nt mean freedom to do a certain set of things that someone else defines as religious ceremonies. It means freedom to do those things that you define as religious within your religion.

    This leads me to think Bob should have attacked the arguments of Deacon John head on. If Muslims feel that promoting control of Jerusalem by Muslims and not Jews, and preventing more Jews from settling their is a reigious issue, they have a right to express views on such at Mosques and advocate on the issue at Mosques.

    The classic example of this matter is animal sacrifice. There is a religion that came to the Us from Cuba, I believe it is called Saneria, but something close, that practices animal sacrifice. Some cities have passed ordinances that ban animal sacrifice in the city. These have been overturned by the supreme court, because they are cassic religious discrimination. They are written in a way that the only thing they outlaw is the sacrificial killing of animals, hunting is allowed, slaughter houses are allowed, and even ritual killing (such as processes to render meat Hallal or kosher) are allowed, just not animal sacrifices.

    Back to the early question of the balance of objection. Personally I think the Muslims here should have sued. 40 families do not require the building of a turn lane. If there is a need for a turn lane it is a result of cumulative building.

    There is a deeper issue though. Zoning laws and religious freedom really can not coexist. The whole point of zoning laws is to define acceptable uses. The whole point of religious freedom is to allow individuals to decide what they need to do religiously.

    This applys not just to what religion they practice, but what building it is practiced in, how often they go to that building, what size of groups go to the building and so on.

    While congregation and building size to some extent reflect practical considerations, they also at times reflect religious goals and imperatives. Mormons do specific rites in temples, that can not be done elsewhere. Catholics must have a priest to perform certain sacraments, and since there are rules on who can be a priest, and since in general you want at least one priest per parish (although this does not always happen), building large churches that can handle 5,000 plus people at least on Easter is a religious neccesity.

    I do not accept the properity gospel. However, for those who do, the need to build huge churches is a religious inperative. At times communities seem to want to force some sort of “community church” standard.

    The extreme example of this was the Arizona Republic “neighborhood church” graphic to compare to the planned dimensions of the Phonix Temple. Many commentors said “the Church by the temple is way bigger than the graphic makes it look”. This is true, but entirely ignores the meaning of the graphic. The graphic was comparing the LDS Temple to some sort of Baptist/Congregational “neighborhood church” model. This totally ignores the rise of the mega church. Neighborhood churches are coming to be the place fewer and fewer people attend, either by closing down or because they expand into much larger structures.

  • Deacon John M. Bresnahan

    John Lambert–You trivialize the issue of a community having a right to examine petitioners before granting a permit. Some of these imams and sheiks and their congregations are far, far more than simple “political activists.”
    For example the sheik known as the “Blind Sheik” was a preacher at 3 New York mosques. He advocated in his sermons the killing of Jews and was involved with his mosque followers in the first bombings of the Twin Towers. He is now in jail for his active participation in the bombings.
    None of this is protected by the First Amendment. Thus people should have the right to see if those bringing a mosque to their neighborhood would also be bringing the likes of the blind sheik and his followers and deny a permit if they discover such is the case.
    I do agree with you that the typical way zoning is sometimes used to block construction of a religious edifice is simply NIMBY in action and really shouldn’t be allowed under the First Amendment. But, unfortunately, it is probably easier to block a “blind” sheik violence promoting style mosque using those zoning arguments than using any other method.

  • http://goodintentionsbook.com Bob Smietana

    A zoning board certainly has the right to ask what kinds of activities will take place in a house of worship, which happened in Brentwood.

    What you’re advocating is punishing Tennessee Muslims by denying free exercise of religion because of the crimes of other Muslims, in other states or other countries. That’s not constitutional.

    If the Blind Sheik came to Brentwood and said, I’d like to build a mosque so that my followers and I can plan to burn down the Grand Ole Opry, then the zoning board could turn them down, because their use of the building would be illegal.

    That’s not what happened here. The leaders of the Islamic Center of Nashville explained that they wanted to build a prayer hall that was near to their homes, one that would be new and have more space for women to pray (the other mosques in town are relatively small) and one that would have a nice fellowship hall to pray in. They have no paid staff or clergy, and take turns leading prayers.

    Still opponents claimed that the Mosque had to be stopped.

    We’ve had two acts of religion-related vandalism in Middle Tennessee since I moved here in 2007.
    One was a spray painted message on a mosque this past winter, which said “Moslems Go Home.”

    The other happened in Feb. 2008, skinheads burned down a small mosque in Columbia, TN – a story that got lost in the national headlines because it happened right after we had the election night tornadoes. I arrived on the scene, after having spent the day covering tornado relief, while the building was still smoldering and the building was surrounded by ATF agents and police. I took a photo of the swastikas painted on the outside walls, which appeared in the next day’s paper.

    Here in TN, Muslims have been victims not criminals.

  • Deacon John M. Bresnahan

    The people in an area have a right to investigate and see if those seeking a permit for a mosque are of the variety that promotes or instigates violence such as the first Twin Tower bombings as did the 3 NY mosques through the preacher that was known as the blind sheikh. Thus the media shouldn’t be automatically deriding those who want a proper permit investigation as some sort of bigots. It is facts, history, and evidence that makes people want to make sure what kind of organization is moving in on them and it shouldn’t be acceptable to use religion as a cover for the promotion of murder. But investigations have to be made to ascertain for certain what type religious group is seeking a permit:: peaceful or violence instigating and promoting.
    But even raising this rational question is likely to get one immediately labeled a bigot in the media.

  • Dave

    Deacon, the problem arises when reporters begin with a default narrative and the story they write borrows from that narrative unless specific facts lead elsewhere. Default narratives, like other prejudices, often have a kernel of truth in the experience of the holder. If the experience-based default narrative for zoning objections to a new house of worship is “yokel NIMBY bigotry” then the objectors have to overcome that default with facts.

  • Deacon John M. Bresnahan

    Note: I just saw that the imam who is seeking a permit to build a mosque near Ground Zero in New York is NOT the liberal-moderate Moslem he portrayed himself to be so as to get the permit.
    Some investigator who knows Arabic translated some of his talks and he apparently is a radical Islamist wanting to destroy America and replace the Constitution with Sharia Law. The story is on Rod Dreher’s site.


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