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.
Here’s how Joe Brandon*, the plaintiff’s attorney in the Tennessee case, explains opposition to the mosque: “This Shariah-compliant facility must show they are a religious organization, which we vehemently dispute. They are a political organization with Shariah-compliant rules and regulations. Shariah and the U.S. Constitution cannot coexist.”
Mack Wolford, a flamboyant Pentecostal pastor from West Virginia whose serpent-handling talents were profiled last November in The Washington Post Magazine , hoped the outdoor service he had planned for Sunday at an isolated state park would be a “homecoming like the old days,” full of folks speaking in tongues, handling snakes and having a “great time.” But it was not the sort of homecoming he foresaw.
Instead, Wolford, who turned 44 the previous day, was bitten by a rattlesnake he owned for years. He died late Sunday.
Who would have thought that harassing a deadly snake on a regular basis could go so wrong?
I don’t know what my life would be like right now without Doc Watson. He’s been a huge part of my life for so long. I just saw him a few months ago. Such a bummer. Not terribly surprising, he was old as hell, but still a bummer.