The Sound of Silence

As attacks on the religious liberties of American Muslims grow, where are the supposed voices for religious freedom among far-right groups in Texas? Pressure groups like Liberty Institute (the Texas affiliate of Focus on the Family) and Texas Eagle Forum often grandstand about threats to First  Amendment’s protections for religious freedom when they claim Christians are the victims of unjust government actions or court decisions. Why are they silent as some call for discriminating against Americans because they are Muslims?

On Tuesday, for example, Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association demanded that the government bar the construction of “even one more mosque” in America, charging that every Muslim is a terrorist-in-training:

“Permits should not be granted to build even one more mosque in the United States of America, let alone the monstrosity planned for Ground Zero. This is for one simple reason: each Islamic mosque is dedicated to the overthrow of the American government.”

Never mind, for a moment, the venomous attack on the patriotism of people who don’t share Fischer’s religious beliefs. We wonder: if the AFA doesn’t support the First Amendment’s protections for religious freedom, did the group also oppose the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) of 2000? Here’s a key excerpt from that bill:

(b) Discrimination and exclusion

(1) Equal terms

No government shall impose or implement a land use regulation in a manner that treats a religious assembly or institution on less than equal terms with a nonreligious assembly or institution.

(2) Nondiscrimination

No government shall impose or implement a land use regulation that discriminates against any assembly or institution on the basis of religion or religious denomination.

(3) Exclusions and limits

No government shall impose or implement a land use regulation that—

(A) totally excludes religious assemblies from a jurisdiction; or

(B) unreasonably limits religious assemblies, institutions, or structures within a jurisdiction.

Of course, the AFA doesn’t oppose the RLUIPA. The group applauded a U.S. Supreme Court ruling upholding the constitutionality of that act in 2005. But its officials are ignoring that law — and the First Amendment — today.

Calls for official discrimination against American Muslims go beyond the building of mosques. As we noted on Monday, the Rev. Peter Marshall has declared that Muslims can’t be good Americans and that “Islam is  completely incompatible with either Christianity or patriotic Americanism.”

Religious-right groups in Texas were thrilled when the State Board of Education appointed Marshall to a panel helping revise Texas curriculum standards for social studies. Is that why those groups aren’t speaking out in support of religious freedom and against discrimination now? Has their support for religious freedom been just empty rhetoric? Do they think that the Constitution’s protections apply only to some Americans? Their silence is telling.

The Texas Freedom Network continues to support the freedom of all people, Christian and non-Christian, to practice their faith without interference from government. That freedom is the reason religion has thrived for more than two centuries in America. Make no mistake: permitting the use of fear, ignorance and hate now to limit the religious freedom of some Americans would be a tragedy for us all.

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9 Comments

  1. Posted August 16, 2010 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

    God’s followers think they don’t have to obey Man’s Bldg Codes or Vehicle Safety codes. We lose a flock a year in crashes, and falling rooves. Nothing to do with any specific religion.

  2. Cytocop CT(ASCP)
    Posted August 15, 2010 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

    Gordon, once again I’m not sure what you’re trying to say but it sounds like you too are opposed to the building of this mosque and muslim community center. Am I correct? My understanding is that the land has already been bought fair and square by the mosque, and approval has already been granted. It’s no longer a question of whether the mosque should be built or is legal to be built. It’s legal, and it’s going to built – as long as the buyers still want to build it.

    As for Pres. Obama’s statement endorsing the board’s decision, the question is not subject to Obama’s opinion. The board has already decided – according to whatever legal documents you want to reference.

    As for Obama being “dismissive,” the majority of the American people were opposed to Brown vs. Board of Education yet that passed, and the majority of the American people were opposed to interracial marriage yet that too passed. Civil rights are not subject to the “will of the American people.” Civil rights are subject to the Constitution as is Pres. Obama. He pledged to defend the Constitution at his inauguration as do all presidents. So, whatever the American people think, his opinion is really not relevant in this matter. I refer you all to my quote of the First Amendment above.

  3. Posted August 15, 2010 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

    Local laws may not contradict laws derived from delegated authority to the Federal government or from authority retained by the state vis a vis local authority, but may pass laws and ordinances not thereby precluded by said delegated powers. The Tenth Amendment so leaves local authority or to the people, powers not precluded b y the specified and implied powers in the Constitution.

    Building Codes are typically in accordance with codes approved by several associations devoted to building and fire safety. Houston has adopted the International Building Code with local variances for Houston requirements and accompanying codes for electrical and plumbing. There are Federal laws pertaining to certain aspects of construction such as the aforementioned RLUIPA, but no Federal building code.

    Land use is normally controlled by land use commissions or zoning boards neither of which exist in Houston, but do in smaller communities like Sugar Land, Dallas, Fort Worth, Austin and San Antonio. State railway and road authorities also reserve rights to govern certain land use.

    The City of New York authority’s decision regarding the Mosque likely was influenced by the provisions of the RLUIPA, but may have acted in accordance with existing state and local zoning laws.

    President Obama’s statement endorsing the board’s decision has been castigated by GOP on TV today as dismissive of the will of the American people as expressed in some opinion polls of unknown reliability.

  4. Cytocop CT(ASCP)
    Posted August 15, 2010 at 11:33 am | Permalink

    Oh Sheesh! The stuck needle strikes again.

    The First Amendment says (AND I QUOTE):
    “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

    So Gene, what is your problem with the wording THIS time?? I should think the First Amendment guarantees approval for the construction of the Muslim community center as long as local laws and ordinances (under the Constitution!!) are followed. So what’s your point? That the Muslim Community Center should or should not get a green light?

    By the way, Sharron Angle doesn’t know her a__ from a hole in the ground. As we’ve seen, she beats a hasty retreat from her own press conferences. What’s she so terrified of, that someone might ask her a question? I don’t know if she knows what words are in the Constitution or not. As we’ve seen from previous interviews, she doesn’t seem to know what words are on her own website.

  5. Posted August 13, 2010 at 1:32 am | Permalink

    Oh, tempt me! What TFN needs to read is the First Amendment and my book, The Religion Commandments in the Constitution: A Primer, and then accept and understand the wording of the Constitution, as written. Dr. Criswell was emphasizing, in the words above, what President Jefferson said in 1803, not what the First Congress said in 1789. The words “church and state” are not in the Constitution. Even Sharron Angle knows that. And, Thomas Jefferson was not a Founding Father nor a member of the First Congress. He was in France from 1784 to 1789. Regardless, it is the words of the Constitution which count, not what Dr. Criswell or Thomas Jefferson wrote years later.

  6. Charles
    Posted August 12, 2010 at 9:08 pm | Permalink

    You guys and TFN need to read this essay closely. This thing is dynamite in an oil refinery:

    http://www.thefreelibrary.com/W.+A.+Criswell:+the+wall+of+separation+of+church+and+state+and…-a0190196741

  7. Cytocop CT(ASCP)
    Posted August 12, 2010 at 7:47 pm | Permalink

    Beverly, that’s a terrible story.

    This is typical of the radcon’s hypocrisy. They want LESS government (get the government OFF OUR BACKS). Now they want MORE government (to prevent the building of any more mosques).

    They are behaving more and more shrill, defensive, and contradictory one could almost call it collective psychosis.

  8. Posted August 12, 2010 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

    As most of you know, I am Jewish. TEN radical Islamic men decided to fly into the Twin Towers on 9/11/01 (the date of my first license to sell pre-paid legal services). Remember that number, TEN.

    Now suppose that the Southern Baptist Conference was told that there could no longer be another Southern Baptist church built in the United States. There are presently about 16 million Southern Baptists. The Baptist denominations started about 400 years ago in England. If you’re a Southern Baptist and think that Jesus started the Baptist churches, well, you’re mistaken.

    But suppose TEN radical Southern Baptists had brought down the towers; should they be told that they can no longer build a church in the United States? Let’s see…there are 2,454,000 Muslims in the United States, or about 0.8% of our population. Southern Baptists have approximately 16 million of the population or about 5.3% of the U.S. population.

    Now suppose TEN Southern Baptists were the ones who destroyed the towers. Would people be demanding that no more Southern Baptist churches be built? Believe it or not, there are some radical Southern Baptists who would like to mess around with the Constitution and call for the impeachment of one of the BEST presidents this country has ever had. President Obama has accomplished more than any other president since Roosevelt and he has done it in less than two years.

    Getting back to whether or not Muslims should be able to have as many Mosques they need, I point to the first Amendment. That is all there is to it. For some reason, people think that they can vote on whether or not something can happen. I’m a veteran, and like all military people, I swore to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States of America. The Founders of the United States have already voted, it is a done deal.

    I’m more frightened of the groups of Christians who want to turn this country into a biblical based country. NO, NO, NO! The first Amendment prohibits the country from the nuts who want an open Constitution that can be changed anytime they want. Right now there is a group of Christians who want to overturn the 14th Amendment. I can see their point, but it would take 2/3 of the states to make it law. Ain’t gonna happen, folks.

    Same sex marriage in California was prohibited by voters. Uhh…you cannot vote yea or nay when it comes to the Constitution; I’ll leave that alone for now. But I will say this, gays should have the same rights to be miserable as straight couples. Radical Christians started the movement towards gay marriage by refusing gay couples the RIGHT to visit their long-term partners. Their attitude was “you are not part of the family so you cannot visit your partner.” I know of cases where gay couples who had been together for over 40 years were refused visitation when one of the partners had had a stroke. Not only did they prohibit visitation but had the partner moved to a rehabilitation facility in another state and refused to permit the well partner from finding out where the other partner was. They thought that by forcing the separation it would “cure” them into being straight.

    I was a crisis intervention/suicide counselor and could not get help to the other partner quickly enough. I heard a shot and the phone dropping. You have no idea of how sad and miserable I felt when I heard his story and suicide. I had to resign that night; the “family” was thrilled that he was dead, “he deserved it,” one of the loathsome people said. I attended his funeral and had the opportunity to stare at the family throughout the service. I could do that because I had turned in my resignation, else I’d not have been able to attend the funeral.

    I could go on and on but enough is enough.

    Long live the United States of America and may it grow up soon.

  9. Posted August 12, 2010 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

    The Pilgrims were Puritans who were denied the freedeom to prosecute according to their own beliefs, and came to America to prosecute the Freedom of Speech (and a bunch of other sinful acts) in accordance with their own beliefs. The problem they encountered was that the Frontier represented too big a back door that allowed the miscreant disbelievers to Go West.

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