Civil Liberties

Defending Murfreesboro's Hallowed Ground


Residents of Murfreesboro, Tennessee have now gone to court to prevent the construction of a mosque and community center—a mere 900 miles from Ground Zero. The construction site has already been targeted by arsonists.

The project was greenlit under a recent Tennessee law called the Tennessee Religious Freedom Act, passed to make it easier for religious organizations to get around local zoning laws to build houses of worship. The law puts an extra burden on local officials to demonstrate the government's interest in preventing the construction of a religious structure.

Mosque opponents argue that the center shouldn't be covered by the law, apparently because . . . mosques aren't churches.

Mosque opponent Kevin Fisher was scheduled to speak but had to leave due to health problems. A couple of hours before the commission meeting, Fisher filed a lawsuit against the commission in chancery court to stop construction of the Mosque.

"This case is about making sure that it's really a church and making sure the county commission and planning commission stop operating as puppets," Attorney Joe Brandon Jr. told the Murfreesboro Post.

Emphasis mine. Here's some more fun from the opposition:

Local residents expressed their fear and anger at two past meetings of the Rutherford County Commission when area Muslims were granted permission to build a new Mosque. Some told commissioners they feared Muslims would try to kill them while others contended Muslims were here to replace local government with Sharia Law.

Opposition to the Mosque gained the attention of Televangelist Pat Robertson. In an August 19 airing of the 700 Club, the one-time failed Presidential candidate said Muslims could be bribing county government.

"I don't know whether anybody is getting a pay-off, but it's entirely possible," Robertson told his audience.

On August 28, someone burned excavating equipment where the Mosque is being built damaging the equipment. The incident also followed vandalism against the site's sign in January and June.

But don't go drawing any broad conclusions, here.

Fisher made a point to tell the Murfreesboro Post this wasn't about intolerance toward Muslims.