Christian Privilege, Bigotry Alive and Well in Kennesaw, GA

Christian Privilege, Bigotry Alive and Well in Kennesaw, GA December 3, 2014

As we’ve seen in New York City, Murfreesboro, TN, and other places around the country, a whole lot of Christians really do think that the First Amendment applies only to them. When it comes to Muslims, they gleefully try to deny them even the most basic religious freedoms while demanding an ever more expansive definition of it for themselves. The city council in Kennesaw, Georgia is refusing to allow a Muslim group to rent property to worship in because they’re dumbest and most bigoted residents object to it.

Last month, a Muslim community in and around Kennesaw, Georgia asked the city council for the right to rent a 2200-square foot space in a local strip mall to conduct daily prayers and Friday services. The group argued that many of their worshippers currently have to drive long distances to meet with other Muslims for religious gatherings, and wanted to use the storefront as a temporary location until they found a more permanent home.

But after two weeks of heated debate, the council silently denied the community’s request on Monday night, striking down the measure in a 4-1 vote without further comment. Only one council member, Cris Eaton-Welsh, voted in favor of the motion.

“This is 100 percent, bar none, a First Amendment issue,” Eaton-Welsh told ThinkProgress, referring to the Constitutional Amendment guaranteeing all Americans the right to freely express their religion. “They have the right to assemble. I don’t understand their religion, but they have the right to do this.”

The rest of the council, however, did not agree. It wasn’t immediately clear why the majority of the council voted against the motion, but their actions were celebrated by opponents of the mosque, including many who protested outside the city council building before the vote. The demonstrators held signs with emblazoned with anti-Islam slogans such as “Ban Islam” and “Islam wants no peace!”, and appeared to oppose both the mosque and Islam in general.

“To me [the mosque] is a threat to my freedom, my liberties, and everything I own,” one demonstrator told local news station 11 Alive.

The city is using a familiar argument:

Kennesaw Mayor Mark Mathews listed more practical arguments for rejecting the temporary mosque, explaining to the Marietta Daily Journal that frequent Muslim prayer times could increase traffic in the area and interfere with the business of nearby shops. Mathews also reportedly told local news affiliate WSBTV that this was the first time the city had been asked to provide worship space in a retail center.

But as the Marietta Daily Journal reported on Monday, city records show that the council has allowed religious groups to use retail spaces in the past. Council members voted as recently as July to allow a Christian congregation — Redeemed Christian Fellowship Church — to inhabit a 4,000 square-foot retail space in the city, a unanimous vote that renewed a June 2013 decision to grant the Pentecostal community use of storefront property.

It’s funny how only Muslim groups cause traffic problems. It’s a mystery wrapped in an enigma how that happens. This is just plain old bigotry and Christian privilege. In other words, it’s a day that ends in Y in America.

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