Property Rights

Fundamentalists vs. the First Amendment

Stop worrying about Shariah. Christian fanatics are the ones using the government to restrict individual liberty.


Religious fundamentalists threaten the American way of life by seeking to impose their will upon us, because they hate our freedoms. So say lawmakers in a growing number of (mostly Bible Belt) states who have introduced measures to forbid the use of Shariah law in state courts. The lawmakers are like the woman in Kansas who recited a special chant to keep the Bengal tigers away. Informed that there were no Bengal tigers, she replied that the chant must be working.

The likelihood that civic authorities in Alabama or Georgia will start taking orders from Islamic fanatics by, say, issuing fatwas seems remote. As for whether civic authorities might start taking orders from Bible-thumping Christian fundamentalists—well, better ask Laura George.

George would like to set up an interfaith spiritual retreat in Independence, Va. (motto: "In God We Will Grow"), which is the county seat for Grayson County. Last year the county planning commission unanimously approved her proposal—consisting of the retreat, an education center, a library, and 10 cabins.

At that point, it seems, Grayson County went nuts.

According to an account by Susan Kinzie of The Washington Post, "prayer groups sprang up to stop her. … So many people filled the Board of Supervisors hearing (in June 2010) that the panel had to move into a courtroom upstairs. After pastors and others spoke at the hearing, many saying that the project was anti-Christian, a cult and a threat to the community, the board killed it." The story quotes Rhonda James, one of the project's many opponents, who says she is "glad it didn't come. … I'm a Christian, fundamentalist Christian, and so are most people in the area."

George is now suing, with the help of the Charlottesville-based Rutherford Institute, which champions civil liberties. Rutherford Institute president John Whitehead calls the rejection of George's application a clear violation of the First Amendment, not to mention Virginia's constitutional guarantees of freedom of speech and religion.

In the lawsuit, the Rutherford Institute notes that more than a dozen local ministers urged the county's Board of Supervisors to turn down George's application, on the grounds that her philosophy and religious orientation are not in keeping with Christian doctrine. Not only that, they are heretical and—really—"communist." That last seems a bit rich. If you go to the Oracle Institute's website, you'll find that its mission statement quotes at length not from Karl Marx, but from Thomas Jefferson.

Naturally, county officials deny that George's non-denominationalism had anything to do with the supervisors unanimously rejecting her application. Rather, it was a matter of protecting the health and safety of county residents. Because as we all know, interfaith services are more dangerous than dioxin.

Since then, county attorney Jim Guynn has had the opportunity to refine the county's position. He told the Post's reporter that speakers at the Board of Supervisors hearing did not say only that George's faith went against God. Some of them also raised concerns about zoning and property values.

Alas for Grayson County, that dog won't hunt, either. For one thing, county regulations stipulate that if the planning commission approves a permit like the one George seeks, then they should be deemed appropriate "as a matter of right."

Well, a county ordinance is not exactly federal law. RLUIPA, on the other hand, is. The acronym stands for the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, which Congress passed by unanimous consent in 2000. The sponsor was Sen. Orrin Hatch.

RLUIPA stipulates that governments cannot apply land-use regulations in a manner that incommodes religious assemblies, unless (a) they are doing so for the sake of a compelling government interest, and (b) the burden being imposed is the least restrictive means of pursuing that interest.

Mighty high bar there.

Congress passed RLUIPA as a rebuke to the Supreme Court—which had struck down a previous statute, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), as overly broad. The particulars of the backstory are instructive.
Back in 1990, the Supreme Court upheld an Oregon law forbidding the use of peyote, a drug used in Native American religious rituals. Faith groups worried that the precedent could lead to more laws that infringed on religious practices, so Congress passed RFRA.

A few years later Patric Flores, the Catholic Archbishop of San Antonio, wanted to expand his church in Boerne, Texas. Zoning officials said no. So Flores sued under RFRA. The high court struck RFRA down for technical reasons too abstruse to dwell on here. Congress then retaliated with the more narrowly tailored RLUIPA.

Five years after its passage, several Ohio prison inmates tried to use RLUIPA to get authorities to recognize their decidedly non-mainstream religions: Wicca, Satanism, Asatru, and the Church of Jesus Christ Christian, a white-supremacist sect. The Supreme Court ruled unanimously in the inmates' favor. Compared with the inmates' religions, Laura George's views seem positively tame.

What's interesting about all this history is that at least since 1990, it constitutes a march toward greater religious freedom. Jefferson, whose Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom Laura George so copiously quotes, would nod in approval. But then, by the current standards of Grayson County, Jefferson was a dirty commie.

A. Barton Hinkle is a columnist at the Richmond Times-Dispatch. This article originally appeared in the Richmond Times-Dispatch.


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  1. A great irony in all of this is that the pietists, the theological ancestors of these modern “Christian Fundamentalists” rejected denominationalism in the sense we think of it today. They simply wanted each person to have a personal relationship with God. Kind of like – what Laura George wants.

    1. Sorry, but modern fundamentalist reject pietism, and the pietist are NOT the forebears of fundamentalists. Fundamentalists do often misread and misinterpret Scripture, however.

      The biggest enemy of Christianity is NOT “bad morals” but people / organizations who would have Christianity turned from a Holy Spirit response to God, into a national ethic. Morality, surprising to some, is the DEATH of Christianity, as those who think themselves moral (“Moral Majority) are horribly mistaken, and cannot have taken to heart Christ’s messages. The Holy Spirit changes people, not silly statements about being a Christian nation, etc. If what happens in America today is a reflection on Christianity, then Christianity has failed. No nation which aborts millions a year, calls homosexuals the spawn of the devil (when their accusers are just as Hell-bound as any homosexual), etc. Stop preaching morality, and start preaching mankind’s sin, and need for God. The most abstemious, daily church attending person is a Hell-bound creature, absent Jesus’ sacrifice, and if you think otherwise, you evidence the lack of salvation, not the presence of it.

  2. Maybe someone can answer this for me. Isn’t it the right of each state to make or establish it’s own religion and it’s only the federal government that can’t establish one. that was my understanding since the founding state were based on their own religion in the first place so the founders decided to maintain that capability. This does not mean I agree with it but I do believe that communities can set their own standards that is one of the purposes of zoning to set a standard like keeping strip clubs out of certain areas if the people don’t want one.

    1. 14th Amendment. States cannot make laws that violate the federal Constitution. If they could, you really wouldn’t like where that would head (I mean, they barely acknowledge the 4th Amendment as it is)

        1. Communities and states do not have rights.

      1. That is the dumbest thing I have ever heard. First of all, the law is always force that is applied to a person. The federal law can apply force to any citizen and so can the state. Where in the constitution does it say that states are restricted from applying force against its citizens as its constitution says it can?

    2. HUH!!!!!

    3. From HERE:

      Nothing is more likely to (justly) infuriate a liberal than an assertion of the specious theory, which in recent years has gained support among conservatives (e.g., recently defeated Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania), that the “original intent” of the First Amendment’s no-establishment clause was to preserve the right of the state governments to establish their own churches. “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion” — so that the state legislatures can. Along those lines, we may conclude that the “intent” of the free-exercise clause was to prevent federal interference in the state burning of heretics. The purpose of the Eighth Amendment? No doubt to safeguard the right of the state governments to erect their own torture chambers. And of course, the purpose of the Second Amendment is to allow those governments to form their own armies and even disarm the people if they so decide — a point where our liberal finds himself in perverse agreement with a hated premise.

      Let there be no doubt: The Bill of Rights is not a charter of the rights of state churches, state armies, and state torture chambers — and none of its ratification proponents ever championed it as such. It is a charter of the rights of American citizens — against the power of the federal government. The weak reed of this “states’ rights” theory is the fact that the Constitution did not secure these rights for citizens against the power of the state governments, a defect that Madison recognized and tried to remedy with an amendment (which he thought the “most valuable”) affirming “No state shall violate the equal rights of conscience” and other liberties. Sadly, it was never adopted, and incorporation — the application of the Bill of Rights to the state governments — was not achieved until the Fourteenth Amendment, whose “privileges or immunities” clause was stated by its author, Congressman John Bingham of Ohio, to effect precisely that end. (See Michael Kent Curtis’ No State Shall Abridge: The Fourteenth Amendment and the Bill of Rights.)

      1. Mr. Bingham and the re-construction Congress knew that the framers intended to bind the states to the Bill of Rights. Nevertheless, they argued that because the Supreme Court had overstepped its bounds in the Barron case of 1833, a constitutional amendment was necessary to bind the states to the Bill of Rights.

        I can’t tell you how many times some idiot here as asseverated that the states were not bound by the Bill of Rights because the language in the First Amendment says that “Congress shall make no law…” apparently oblivious to the fact that the framers did not insert any language limiting the scope and applicability of the ten amendments to the federal government.

        The Bill of Rights is not preceded by a Pre-amble under the terms of which the states are exempt from the application of the same. Given that the founding generation almost universally embraced natural rights philosophy, it is utterly preposterous that they had some knid of hard-on for “states rights” and that the liberty interest of an individual, aggrieved by state law, must be subordinated to “states rights”.

        1. Thanks for the replies, this is why I read Reason, for the intelligent discourse that follows.

  3. “Stop worrying about Shariah. Christian fanatics are the ones using the government to restrict individual liberty.”
    I agree, but all religion is dangerous. And Islam is probably the worst.

    1. In the daily life of most Americans, you’re far more likely to have your liberty challenged by Christian fundamentalists than Islamic fundamentalists.

      1. Yes, but only because there are more christians.Islam is a much nastier religion.

      2. You are also much, much more likely to have your liberty restricted by statists with no religious agenda than by either Christians or Muslims. Like, every time you flip a light switch and that CFC you are forced to buy fizzles on.

        1. Perhaps the frequency of the restriction is not as important as the scope of the restriction?

          A penny a day tax VS Not being allowed to marry your gay partner.

        2. I think you mean CFL (compact fluorescent light bulb). Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) are emitted by refrigerators.

    2. “And Islam is probably the worst.”

      Slight correction – Islam as it is now practiced today by far too many Muslims. Islam was once far more tolerant of a Religion that is usually the case today, also some branches still are. Many of the Sufis are very tolerant as are the Ahmadiyya Muslims.

      1. I knew some hot, white chicks in the late 80s who were Sufis. They liked to party it up….

    3. Actually, you’re far more likely to have your liberty challenged by fundamentalists of any stripe, religious or not, that by Islamic fundamentalists in particular. Religion isn’t the problem here, but rather the almost universal tendency of humans to try to enforce their views by force. Last time I checked, most zoning boards and drug warriors weren’t arguing for their tyrannies based on religion. But if it’s easier for you to engage in the sort of collectivism most here would normally denounce based on your blanket pronouncement, go for it. But when was the last time you met a Baha’i who tried to force a stupid law down your throat?

      Religions hardly have a lock on producing dicks of human beings. I’d rate an atheist with a bee in his bonnet about global warming as far more dangerous than a fundamentalist who wants to convert me through free and peaceable means but who will otherwise leave me alone (and I know many fundamentalists who fit that category). I’ve known plenty of dangerous Christian fundamentalists and plenty of dangerous atheists. I’ve known Christian fundamentalists libertarians and atheist authoritarians.

      1. drug warriors weren’t arguing for their tyrannies based on religion

        This may be true for the pundits and gov’t. employees who defend current practice. They understand that arguing for the WOD on religious grounds these days would be a non-starter. But I think it’s pretty well known that a lot of the ordinary folks who support the WOD do so for religious reasons that have little to do with the rationale propagated by the professional drug warriors, and a lot to do with their ideas about what constitutes sin and crime.

        1. In current American society, I don’t know of any ‘dangerous atheists’.

          My bet is that most violent wackos have a strong belief in some sort of diety.

          1. My bet is that most violent wackos have a strong belief in some sort of diety.

            This reminds me of that time on the View where Rosie O’Donnell said that Christian fundamentalism is as much a threat to America as the Islamic kind, and then pointed to Timothy McVeigh.

            McVeigh didn’t attack in the name of any religion; he just happened to be Christian.

            Eric Robert Rudolph was probably a better example, but he was driven more by white-supremacy than religious fundamentalism.

            1. From wikipedia, so YMMV:

              McVeigh was raised Roman Catholic.[84] During his childhood, he and his father attended Mass regularly.[85] McVeigh was confirmed at the Good Shepherd Church in Pendleton, New York, in 1985.[86] In a March, 1996, interview with Time magazine, McVeigh professed his belief in “a God”, although he said he had “sort of lost touch with” Catholicism and “I never really picked it up, however I do maintain core beliefs.”[84] In the 2001 book American Terrorist, McVeigh stated that he did not believe in Hell and that science is his religion.[87][88] In June, 2001, a day before the execution, McVeigh wrote a letter to the Buffalo News claiming to be an agnostic.[89] Before his execution, McVeigh took the Catholic sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick.

              Im not gonna judge, but I dont think its safe to say that your “he just happened” is even true.

              1. did you even bother reading that robc?

                1. Yes, did you not see the “n’t” I failed to type on the end of the word is?

                  1. No wait, I wrote it correctly. I clearly stated that “he just happened to be a christian” is not safe to assume is true.

            2. “My bet is that most violent wackos have a strong belief in some sort of diety”

              Reminds me of a first aid instructor with decades of EMT experience commenting that if you find yourself in an emergency situation where someone is “listening to god” (or such), then you should get out, ASAP, and leave this one to the pros.

          2. My belief is that violent wackos are violent wackos. They find excuses to justify their violent wacko nature.

            But in talking about “danger” I wasn’t talking about direct violence, but rather about danger to liberty. And there, I’m afraid, totalizing ideology, not religion per se, is the offender. Some religions are totalizing ideologies, but Marxism and atheism can also be totalizing ideologies. (Neither atheism nor religions are, definitionally, totalizing ideology, but as categories they may include totalizing ideologies.) I realize it’s easy to try to tar religion as the root of evil, but it is intellectually lazy and dishonest, just as it is dishonest for Christians to paint atheists as libertine and amoral.

            While anecdotes do not determine truth, I know a man in Hungary who told me how, in 1953, those of his classmates at the E?tv?s Lor?nd University who maintained a belief in God at the end of their Marxism-Leninism course were executed. (He survived, even though he was a believer, through a verbal trick whereby he told the instructor that he believed “as the book taught him,” leading the instructor to believe he meant the textbook for the class.)

            The thugs who perpetuated that were not motivated by belief in some sort of deity and were acting in explicit enforcement of a totalizing atheist agenda.

            While my anecdote proves nothing as a general proposition?and even if we had statistical evidence that religious wackos were more violent than the non-religious population, correlation does not indicate causality?it does show that atheists in pursuit of a bad ideology are just as bad as any Christians in pursuit of their ideology.

            1. That’s why I limited my observation to American atheists.

              Personal anecdotes can reveal much in an argument — I use anecdotes frequently:

              Intelligent people know that their existence is limited, better spent free than caged up for rest of their lives. After telling my friend (whose been in-and-out of jail/re-hab over the last 10 years) that he’s pissing his life away, then states that a better life awaits for him after he’s dead.

            2. No, you’re still wrong. Here’s the thing: Atheism has no dogma, no canon, no book of instructions. And the killing of the students in your story wasn’t due to atheist principles (because there aren’t any… atheism is a lack of belief, not a collection of beliefs.) The killing of those students was a consequence of the governing method and policy, which — pay attention now — was not atheism.

              Muslims, on the other hand, can point directly to passages in their official dogma that tell them to kill the infidels. That, btw, would be you.

              In the Christian books, there are numerous examples of the killing of unbelievers, and worse. Offering one’s daughters up to protect the guest; turning people to salt for disobedience; etc.

              Atheism? Nope. Not a jot or a tittle, as it were, to tell the atheist to abuse anyone, in any way. The atheist position arises as a consequence of one, and exactly one proposition: the individual lacks a belief in a god or gods. This is both 100% in accordance with the word (‘a’ = without, ‘theist’ = belief in a god or gods) and also perfectly in accord with what we see in society — atheists are all over the map, socially, politically, and so on. When an individual is atheist, but acts the wacko, it is entirely inappropriate to attempt to lay the wackiness at the door of atheism, just as it is inappropriate to lay it at the door of any other innocuous, unrelated character trait carrying no particular social outlook such as hair color or a taste for Cheerios.

              McVeigh didn’t do what he did because he was atheist; he did because he was a frigging lunatic, a lunacy not brought on, encouraged, or fomented by atheism.

              But the folks who flew into the twin towers… yes, they were lunatics, but we can easily and directly find the roots of that lunacy in their religion.

          3. I note the qualifier, “in today’s american society” as without it, you would be forced to acknowledge past mass murderering atheists like Lincoln and the two Roosevelts and Reagan and the Bushes.

            1. From the mid 19th century onward, there is no debate:

              Godless statism has proven to be far more destructive of human life than religious fundamentalism.

              1. You’re mistaking mass-murdering dictatorships with mass-murdering religious nuts. Have you forgotten the crusades, the Spanish inquisition, or any monarch for that matter?

                1. “Any monarch”????

                  Do you really mean “any monarch?” Because that would include present-day monarchies such as the UK, Sweden, Denmark, Belgium, Spain, Japan, and Jordan.

                2. “Any monarch”????

                  Do you really mean “any monarch?” Because that would include present-day monarchies such as the UK, Sweden, Denmark, Belgium, Spain, Japan, and Jordan.

            2. WTF?

      2. … the almost universal tendency of humans to try to enforce their views by force…

        But as long as we don’t call it ‘religion’, it’s ok.

      3. But when was the last time you met a Baha’i who tried to force a stupid law down your throat?

        A few years ago, when my cousin insisted that we should have anti-discrimination laws. However, I agree with your general point.

        The Baha’i faith is one of the most tolerant on the planet. Statists can just as easily find religious or secular reasons for tyranny. Here in Bergen County, NJ, traffic concerns keep it illegal to sell things on Sundays.

  4. Well, anyone who would say that “dissent is the highest form of patriotism” must be a damned dirty hippy commie.

    (And before anyone jumps on me, I know that Jefferson didn’t actually say that.)

    1. Or a Tea Partier. It largely depends on what letter is behind the President’s name, really.

  5. evangelical socons are NOT true conservatives as goldwater warned. they desire a large, intrusive govt religiously interferring w/ a woman & her doctor, voyeuring adult bedroom activities, & directing land use in this example. the most fundie even wish to outlaw birth control & force women to submit to the kitchen barefoot & preggers. praze jay-sus & pass the snakes…

    1. They’re called “Christfags” now.

    2. I’ve noticed that but libertarians tend to have the same marxist thinking in many ways. I wish there was some hybrid between libertarians and conservatives.

  6. you’re as bad as Whoopi Goldberg and Rosie O’Donnell.

    We have MUCH to fear from Islamists – Christian fundamentalists are a moderate nuissance. You should really get your head out of the sand, and take a look at what the “12ers” are doing in Iran – you should see how they’re proceeding full steam towards nuclear weapons AND how cozy they are with Hugo Chavez and are building missile bases in Venezuela! No, IGNORE THAT, and pay attention to some misguided people who PEACEFULLY USE THE DEMOCRATIC PROCESS.

    1. the fundies are violating federal law designed to protect religious land use.

    2. Hugo Chavez is a full-on Catholic.

    3. You know who else ‘peacefully [used] the democratic process’…

  7. Sadly, the average fundamentalist Christian of today acts more like the Pharisees of 2000 years ago than they do Jesus of Nazareth.

    1. Agreed with that statement.

    2. Gandhi was the only true Christian in history (that I can think of).

      99% of Christians have more in common with Savanorola.

      1. Clearly you don’t know much about Gandhi.

    3. That is true of the average christian of any year past about AD 50.

      That is why the pharisee stories are in the gospels. Because they are needed.

  8. It has amused me for the last several years to hear a preacher lead the congregation in “Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho” and, 10 minutes later, launch into a sermon on the evil and murderous Mohammedans who killed 3,000 innocent people on 9/11. Many scholars place the population of Jericho at somewhere in the neighborhood of 3,000.

    1. Paging Fluffy.

      Fluffy, please pick of the jericho courtesy phone.

    2. Uh, how many times has that happened? Is it zero? I’m guessing it has happened zero times.

  9. We call them “Christfags” here, Barton.

    #47 Ed Is Dead

  10. I’m surprised that the church of the flying spaghetti monster is not on the list of approved religions yet.

    1. It is in Austria apparently. Google “Austrian Pastafarian” and you’ll probably find it.

    2. They can be if they incorporate as a religious body in the USA. I suspect that no one bothered to fill out the paper work yet.

  11. “So say lawmakers in a growing number of (mostly Bible Belt) states”

    There is no Bible Belt. It is fiction.

    1. There was a Bible Belt, they just got too fat for a belt. It’s more like Bible Relaxed-Fit Overalls at this point.

      1. I’m serious. This Hinkle guy is a lazy writer.

        1. Go to this map, and choose “Evangelical Protestant Tradition” on the Religious Groups side. That solid black stripe is the Bible Belt.

          It’s a dismissive term to be sure, but that doesn’t mean The South–especially the CSA border states–doesn’t have a tendency toward Fundamentalist flavors of Christianity.

          1. Evangelical does not necessarily equal Fundamentalist.

            1. It shouldn’t, but in contemporary usage, they have come to mean the same thing.

              1. No, robc is right. They aren’t the same thing. And it’s sloppy for me to use them interchangeably.

          2. I went to the map. The “solid black stripe” you refer to is just Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Tennessee.

            1. Which is why it looks like a belt. The dark blue bulging parts are the Bible Gut and Bible Thighs.

    2. There is no Bible Belt. It is fiction.

      Yeah, all those dry counties in East Texas are just figments of the imagination.

      1. East Texas? Looks like most of Texas.

        Purple is dry, blue is some sort of moise, green is wet.

        1. That map isnt entirely right for KY. But KY is complicated.

          There are two dry PRECINCTS in the west end of Louisville.

          1. Updated KY numbers, out of 120 total counties.

            32 wet counties (this included Jefferson despite the 2 precincts)
            43 dry counties
            The rest are mixed of some kind:
            20 wet cities inside otherwise dry counties (19 counties represented)
            31 limited – city or county that allows restaurant liquor sales
            20 golf courses in otherwise dry areas
            24 farm wineries in otherwise dry areas
            1 historical site

  12. Too bad suicide is forbidden in the Christian faith. It would be great if Christian Fundamentalists were allowed to “rapture” themselves for Jesus.

    1. Theologically speaking, we Fundamentalists are already “in Heaven”, “heaven” being defined as a relationship with God. By the same token, “Hell” means separation from God, so someone who refuses to accept Christ’s sacrifice on his behalf is already in “hell”.
      So, suicide isn’t necessary for a Fundamentalist to get to Jesus.

      1. so disappear already so we can harvest ur organs, houses, & cars plus convert religious property into something useful besides storytelling

        1. I think you misunderstand; we don’t have to “disappear” to be “in heaven”.

          On another note, we’re still here because the best method of spreading the Gospel is through fallable, fallen humans.

        2. Storytelling is part of being human.

        3. If you want to get rid of all buildings dedicated to storytelling, does that mean you want to eliminate theaters and cinemas?

          1. no those businesses dont shirk their taxes.

      2. “”Hell” means separation from God…”

        Interesting how ‘Christian’ beliefs have tempered over the years.

        1. That’s what Hell always meant. Dante’s descriptions were imagination-based, not Scripture-based.

          Jesus described Hell as being cast into outer darkness, i.e. away from the God of Light.

          1. Matthew 13:42 looks pretty clear to me.

            1. That statement comes at the end of a parable/analogy that discusses the end times. The unbelievers are compared to grass that is thrown into an oven. In other words, the statement seems to me clearly poetic. I don’t think that there is a cosmic oven that floats in the ether, awaiting the souls of the damned.

              1. Grass neither wails nor gnashes teeth.

          2. “That’s what Hell always meant.”

            That may be absolutely true, but what has been preached regarding Hell among Christians and what was actually meant in scripture are NOT always synonymous… unless you’re arguing that every ‘Christian’ church is unanimous in their agreement on their interpretation of scripture.

  13. Anyone else disturbed by the Rube Goldberg nest of laws that are apparently required to allow American citizens to enjoy their property rights and their religious freedom?

    The most simple and most clear arrangement we could have would be: “Anyone can use their property any way they see fit.” But we don’t have that, largely because people like John just faint when they think of that possibility.

    The problem is that there is NO (absolutely no) truly honest use of the zoning powers that people like John and Tulpa insist the state must have. So we have situations where people will lie, and use zoning against people who are enjoying their free exercise of religion (or what have you), while claiming that they’re doing it for some non-religious purpose like “traffic”. And that means we then need laws like the one written by Hatch, and “strict scrutiny”, and the rest of this superfluous crap.

    1. That is the exact purpose of zoning.
      To give power seekers the ability to arbitrarily decide who can and can’t do things that are otherwise legal.

  14. communist, n. anyone who disagrees with me on any point; adj. referring to any belief system other than my own.

    Someone once called me a dirty commie for supporting less government intervention in the auto industry. I asked him whether, if I did a 180, he would shout me down as a dirty Libertarian. He gave me that all-purpose scathing rebuttal known as “La la la, I can’t hear you.”

    1. I get a kick out of the idiots in the right-wing media who call Soros a “commie”. Here is a guy who has written 11 books on capitalism and spent many millions helping fund the anti-communist Eastern European rebellions.

      All because he did not like Bush.

      1. Actually, he was/is a fucking Nazi-lover.

      2. Why would someone who supports Capitalism defend Bush, who signed the TARP Bill?

      3. I think Soros will sleep with whoever gives him the most money.

  15. Considering that any minister in America can have their church swarming with IRS agents for speaking favorably about candidate X, it makes you wonder who is using the power of the federal government to oppress who.

    1. Apparently that does not apply to Catholic priests in Massachusetts. There is apparently some pretty pointed issue instruction going on around the time of each election.

      1. Or to synagogues in Chicago.

        1. It depends on who they support. In 2008, local Jewish groups invited Sarah Palin and Hilary Clinton to a rally against Ahmadinejad. Clinton declined the invitation and threatened to challenge their nonprofit status if they didn’t disinvite Palin. The Jewish groups backed down.

    2. Uh, nobody is saying they can’t endorse whoever they want. They are simply at risk of losing their tax-exempt status for doing so. Big difference.

      1. Meh –

        Basically you’re still saying that one church gets a benefit that another church does not (tax-exempt status) based on content.

        Just about the entirety of the tax law surrounding non-profits is tainted at this point by the state’s micromanagement.

      2. I always thought we held rights to be inalienable, who knew they could be exchanged for tax-exempt status.

  16. communities can set their own standards that is one of the purposes of zoning to set a standard like keeping strip clubs out of certain areas if the people don’t want one.

    OMFG teh boobies!

    1. No, not teh boobies. Teh con artists, cheap hustlers, drug addicts, and hookers – not to mention teh crooked cops.


      1. got that shit right…wait

  17. Last year the county planning commission unanimously approved her proposal?consisting of the retreat, an education center, a library, and 10 cabins.

    People might FUCK in them cabins!

  18. “Because as we all know, interfaith services are more dangerous than dioxin.”

    But nowhere near as dangerous as medical marijuana!

  19. it actually makes a LOT of sesne when you think about it. WOw.

  20. I can’t believe Reason has become politically correct. WAKE UP! When South Park can’t show Mohamed speaking because Comedy Central fears terrorism, there is a problem with Islam!

    I’m sure white supremacists didn’t like the episode where the Virgin Mary sprays blood out of her vagina, but guess what? They did not threaten Comedy Central with death, the Muslims did and after 9/11, the USS Cole, the bombings at a Spanish train station, the killing of Theo Van Gogh, the killing of Pim Fortuyn, and all the other incidents, I think people take Muslims seriously when they say they’re gonna blow something up.

    Communities have the right to set their own standards. It’s called ZONING LAWS. I may have the right to set up a nudie bar or an adult store, but I don’t have the right to do it in a family neighborhood.

    Freedom isn’t “do whatever you like and screw everyone else.” I own a gun, I would love to practice target shooting in the parking lot, but guess what? I don’t think my neighbors would like that.

    By the same token, I don’t like being woken up at 5am by a loud call to prayer from a Mosque, and yes, those call to prayers are too damn loud. Way worst than church bells!

    So look, if you don’t want to live in a COMMUNITY, then buy land far away from everyone else and do your own thing. That’s what the crazy Muslims should do. Or better yet, go back to the Arab world and stop bothering us with your inferior culture!

    1. white supremacists

      We’re not talking about white supremacists. We’re talking about Christian fundamentalists. They are much worse, doncha know. There’s no telling what they might do. They have the audacity to think they are allowed to have opinions. They somehow think they get to partake in politics and oppose the preferences of their betters. We can’t have that. The heads of many of the posters here would explode (and I for one will not clean up the mess).

      1. Could care less what their opinions are. When they use those opinions to advocate for taking away the rights of others, and the government (because of the loud voice) ends up taking away those civil liberties, that’s where I have a problem.

      2. Wait, are you saying Christian fundamentalists are worse than the KKK? Call me crazy, but I’d between being told I’m going to hell and being sent there, I’d rather be told.

    2. those call to prayers are too damn loud. Way worst than church bells!

      Besides which they sound like a camel getting raped. (probably wanted it anyway.)

    3. Needs moar ALL CAPS, plus some “!!1!eleventy…”

  21. Greg, communities do not have a right to set their own standards in a free society.

    You see, “free society” means and refers to an absence of a monopoly on the administration of justice. Hence, if you own the property, you have AN ABSOLUTE RIGHT to open and operate a strip club, notwithstanding your warped socialist mindset.

    1. Can I park my food truck in front of a mosque during Friday prayers?


      1. Sure, I dont see a problem.

    2. I do not have a socialist mindset. Again, if I can’t shoot my gun in the parking lot of my building, what makes you think you can wake me up at 5am with a loud call to prayer from your mosque?

      1. Shooting gunpowder-driven weapons raises serious issues of both noise and bullet travel. In order to assert a right to shoot on your own property, IMHO, you should be required to ensure that (a) no noise from the shooting travels over your property lines, and (b) no bullets travel over your property lines. Just as an example, a properly prepared basement shooting range would easily meet those very reasonable requirements.

        Adhere to those two guidelines, and I have no problem with you shooting on your own property. Violate the first, and you’re guilty of disturbing some other person’s peace; some jail time is called for. Not fines, jail. We bill you for your food and costs, too. Violate the second, and you are willfully putting others in danger, and we kill you as a social retard. Problem solved.

        For the church, same thing: no noise or other projections of their activities are free to encroach on other people’s property. Meet that challenge, and you’re good to go. Break it, and it’s jail. Put anyone at risk of life and limb, and we should kill ’em.

  22. It’s time to retake our place at the head of society.

  23. They have the audacity to think they are allowed to have opinions.

    You can have opinions, no matter how stupid or ill-informed I consider them. Just don’t try to force me to kowtow to them.

    That includes fundamentalist christfags, islamoterrorists, hindoos, zoroastrians, or keynesians.

    1. What about those damned libertarians trying to force liberty down your throat?

      What if you want to have most choices in your life made for you by the best and the brightest in government?

      What if you find freedom to be scary?
      I mean, without someone from government telling you what to do, how will you be able to survive?

      What if you are useless and unproductive? How will you pay your bills if those damn libertarians get their way and let the evil rich keep their ill gotten gains?

      What about libertarians trying to force liberty on you?

  24. I’m curious, how do you deal with two groups, one of which wants to establish itself in a community with the expressed purpose of trying to forcibly convert the community to its ideology, and the second group wanting to violate the laws and customs of the community in order to prevent the first group from succeeding in its stated purpose?

    1. is this rhetorical? how do you know that interfaith group intended to “forcibly convert the community to its ideology”?

      1. Isn’t conversion the purpose of all religions. Their like business’s they all want to grow into new markets and eliminate the competition.

        1. yes but “forcibly” is more zenophobic agiprop designed to foam-up the wingnutz. imagine the crusaders slashing their way thru…virginia!

  25. When will reason write an article about how Christians are persecuted in the city of Dearborn, Michigan?


    And no, this isn’t my blog.

  26. Communities ban stuff all the time. Why are mosques so goddamn special? In some dry counties you can’t even buy booze yet you’re gonna tell me that Muslims have the right to build a mosque wherever they want? Really? Ok. I’m starting a new religion, The Church of Babes, Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms or CBATF for short. My religion is gonna feature girls in bikinis shooting firearms while men smoke and drink whiskey. I’m sure my church is going to be welcomed in every neighborhood. No? Then screw the Mosques!

    1. Your church SHOULD be welcomed in every neighborhood.

      The legal dodge the courts would use is claiming that your religion wasn’t “sincere” and that you had concocted it to evade certain other laws. (Laws that shouldn’t exist either, but that’s neither here nor there.) Of course, the act of ruling that yours is not a “sincere” religion would itself violate the Establishment Clause, but the SCOTUS stands up for tyranny of that kind all the time.

      1. Good response, Fluffy. My point is that when your in a community your choices are limited. It’s kinda like nudity, people who like it go to nude beaches to avoid freaking out the uber-sensitive types that think you have to look like an Abercrombie & Finch model to pose nude.

        Overall, I believe in federalism and state’s rights. Libertarians don’t seem to care too much for those, they think the values of San Francisco are gonna work in Chattanooga and vice versa.

        So I say this, let each person go to whichever community he feels welcome. If you love guns and low taxes, come south. If you want to have sex in public parks, move to Denmark and enjoy the free condom dispensers. If you enjoy the company of a-holes, Los Angeles offers a wide variety.

        But if a community can’t set up zoning laws to keep Mosques away from certain places, we might as well have anarchy.

        1. Reading your comments it’s easy to realize that you’re not serious about liberty, and you just really don’t like Muslims.

          Look, it’s possible to be a federalist without being a bigot. The correct stance on Muslims and communities enacting their own laws is “I won’t use the arm of the federal government to overturn your stupid laws, but you’re still assholes for enacting them, and I urge you to reconsider your stance and the people of the community to fight them.” You can also use the social media to draw attention to bigoted communities, boycott them etc. – basically anything that’s nonviolent.

          The incorrect stance is “These communities have the right to discriminate against Muslims, and that’s a-ok by me!” (The only example you state is minarets, which do pose a noise pollution problem, but what about interfaith centers etc.? Are they such a pressing concern that communities should have the right to ban them?)

          1. I am serious about liberty, I want to be left alone and leave others alone, but they won’t let me!

            Besides, there’s no denying what happens when the Muslim population grows in a country. Look at how Christians in Lebannon are persecuted? Look at the rise of gay bashing in Amsterdam thanks to young Muslim thugs.

            You can’t even attack the Ground Zero Mosque without someone calling you a bigot, which is funny since there are Muslims who actually oppose that evil mosque. There’s even a Saudi prince who calls the project insensitive.

            My point is this, why can’t we treat Muslims the way society treats smokers and fat people? Why are they so goddamm special?

  27. with the expressed purpose of trying to forcibly convert the community to its ideology

    [citation needed]

    1. It’s a rhetorical question.

      For information on forced religious conversions, see here:
      Although it appears that none of the major religions’ holy documents support forced conversion, members of each faith system have engaged in the practice at one time or another.

      1. There is no support in the Bible for forced conversion[citation needed]

        lol, someone flagged asking for a cite for a negative.

  28. I realize that this article is mainly just about a need to attack the right for an appearance of balance and all. but get real. The “christian zealots” owned this country for the last 50 years. And the dystopia we all live in today is the result. Silly arguments about the definition of marriage that both sides should be embarrassed about. Quite the hell on earth alright. Meanwhile check out the middle east for a comparison of what happens when islam dominates societies. And don’t go trying to compare islam today to christianity in 1300. Because the middle east wasn’t born yesterday, it existed back then too. Those societies had more time to progress, not less. And they had a huge head start. Yet many are still stuck back in that era. I wonder why.

    1. and yet the egyptians worshipped pharaoh when making astounding discoveries & inventions including batteries (maybe), brain surgery, algebra, & stunning architexture.

    2. Between muslims and christians, which group has more power in the US? Answer that and I think you’ll be able to better understand the point of the article.

  29. I’ve stopped reading this article when it said no one is trying to enforce islamic law. There is no widespread practice of this but there have been a few judges who have done this and I fear a political correct world will obey its inner command and use Islamic law when dealing with conflicts that involve muslims.

  30. I’m curious about all you christian bashers or secret communist…however you wish to call yourselves. Why is it a terrible thing when Christians want to violate the rights of someone else but when others do it it gets no attention. I’m aware that these groups do want to use the law to impose their own religious views on people but why do they get all the attention? Have you ever wondered that? Ask yourself this why do I focus on christian above all else?

    1. Maybe it’s because 90% of the US population is Christian, and a significant portion of that are zealous fundamentalists who don’t give a shit about the religious freedom of others (or freedom in general).

      Quit with this false equivalency bullshit. Muslims and Buddhists won’t take away your interfaith centers, porn, booze or pot (assuming you’re into them), because they’re a tiny minority in America and have more pressing concerns. Maybe they would if they were the majority, but they aren’t. Christians are, and they will.

      1. You fear a few statist Christians (which include left leaning minority democrats who subscribe to statism to begin with) from establishing busybody laws that interfere with SOME of your rights, but you blow off fundamentalist muslims who are indocrinated to hate and ready to kill the innocent?

        All you need is a few mosques in a single community where radical imams can cultivate extremism, and a couple people willing to blow themselves up. They don’t need to be a “majority” anywhere to inflict damage.

        As a minority, I don’t fear the KKK, because they’re not a threat. I have ZERO chance of encountering a white knight waving their rebel flag in my face. ZERO. The Sharia scare is a bit silly too, but it’s not entirely without merit. Because it’s a reality.

        You’ll find that even in secular nations like Japan, the government exerts unnecesary authority over the media, environment, commerce, etc. Statism infects everyone. But sensible people can approach those problems with perspective.

  31. I’m a Christian with fairly conservative values, but I’m also an American, and it bothers me when I see fundies like this pushing to curb the rights of people of other faiths strictly because they attend temple, mosque, etc., instead of church. Granted, I’m equally upset when I see Christians disproportionately targeted by, for example, atheist groups that don’t like nativity scenes at Christmas (though not once have I ever heard of atheists getting bent out of shape over observances of Hanukkah or Ramadan). But I digress.

    And I do tend to vote Republican, because I see them as the lesser of two evils and I’m not ready yet to cast my vote on a third-party candidate (not to mention that even though I am libertarian, most of the Libertarian candidates I’ve seen the party field give me the creeps). I don’t like that the Right feels the need to dictate the morale values for everyone – we might have been founded as a nation on Christian principles, but our founding fathers made it a point not to adopt a state religion mostly because they remembered how rough it was for them being persecuted for their beliefs in the countries they left to found this one.

    The only reason that the elephants get my vote most days is because I get tired of the Dems wanting to spend my tax dollars on social programs that the government has no business getting involved in, there’s a zillion charities out there that do it all better, cheaper, faster, etc. I’m tired of them being so generous with my money, I’d really prefer they let me decide who I help with my charitable donations. Of course, the GOP has been just as generous of late with my money toward corporations, but they at least have a better track record in that regard.

    Anyhow, this is all really just to say that both parties disgust me. Because I tend to lean slightly to the Left, I tend to be more critical of them, but articles like this remind me that the Right isn’t a whole lot better.

    What’s the difference between the Boy Scouts and Congress? The Scouts have adult supervision.

  32. So, because you disagree with Christian fundamentalists, Sharia is not a problem?


  33. I grew up in the south, as you might have guessed. I have had protestantism shoved in my face and down my throat all my life. I am a solid athiest, not because I revile religion, but for honest, rational reasons. However……I know many many people who have turned away from religion because of the bad taste it left in their mouths. They also turned away from conservatism because they associate it with the kind of behavior exhibited by this city council. When ‘fundamentalists’ behave this way, when Michelle Bachmann recites extreme religious pledges and ‘prays away the gay’, when exceptions are made to the 14th amendment strictly to keep those nasty fags from marrying, etc etc…they need to have a good solid kick in the balls and told:

    ” Thank you very fucking much for campaigning for Barack Obama and getting him and his band of statist freaks elected.”

  34. Turn on the news.

    You were saying?

  35. “Stop worrying about Shariah. Christian fanatics are the ones using the government to restrict individual liberty.”

    I’m not so sure of that. Death is pretty “restrictive” when it comes to our rights. 1st Amendment or otherwise.

  36. I submit that the Federal government has done more to erode and impede religious expression, States’ and cities’ rights to determine what occurs within their own borders, and other egregious abuses of power over individual acts.
    To attempt to equate Wahabbist Muslims with Fundamentalist Christians is an insult to, and an abuse of reason.
    The First Amendment has been bastardized by many organizations claiming to have a “religious” basis when in fact all they were seeking was a tax shelter and legitimacy by deceit.
    Let’s have a greater, in-depth, explanation or exploration by Mr. Hinkle into this so-called inter-faith center. Maybe it is not as innocent as it appears on the surface.

  37. I think a lot of you, including the author, overlooked or at least did not give sufficient weight to the following: “If you go to the Oracle Institute’s website, you’ll find that its mission statement quotes at length not from Karl Marx, but from Thomas Jefferson.” This is what got the Institute into trouble. There is a lot of dislike for Jefferson among religious fundamentalists, not because he was a communist but because he was a deist (which in their minds I suppose is the same thing as being a commie).

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