Islam Is a Religion, and Therefore Protected by the Constitution

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It’s unclear whether a procedural victory
for opponents of a controversial Islamic center in Murfreesboro,
Tennessee, will delay or permanently enjoin completion of a mosque,
under construction since last September. Equally unclear, without
detailed knowledge of the facts, are the merits of Chancellor Robert
Corlew’s ruling that the planning commission had not provided proper
public notice of the construction before granting a permit. But if this
ruling is not a victory for bigotry (Corlew explicitly acknowledged the
Islamic congregation’s rights under the First Amendment and a federal
statute), it is a victory for the bigots who opposed the mosque out of
antipathy toward Islam and the idiotic claim that it is not a religion.

Mosque opponents effectively “put Islam on trial,” KATV reports.
At 2010 hearings, “a string of witnesses questioned whether Islam is a
legitimate religion and promoted a theory that American Muslims want to
replace the Constitution with extremist Islamic law and the mosque was a
part of that plot.”

These are not arguments; they’re fantasies, and we have heard them
all before, often from the same people who would conform constitutional
rights (notably rights for gay people and women) to their understanding
of biblical law. Still, the ignorance and un-self-conscious hypocrisy
that underlies rants about Shariah law are breathtaking.

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