Recently Secretary of Defense Mattis responded to an inquiry on CBS when asked about “what keeps him awake at night?” He said “nothing, I keep other people awake at night.”If I were asked the same question I would have responded simply, “low information American voters.” One of the vital goals and responsibilities I take with this website is to challenge folks to think deeper than the surface. And of course, you can easily surmise those who prefer not to think when their comments are emotional personal attacks.
In any event, I came across this story which is very interesting and truly requires intellectual analysis. I hope the low information voters can handle it.As reported by CNN, “An Islamic society in New Jersey is allowed to move forward with plans to build a mosque, and the town that had denied it permission will pay $3.25 million, as the result of settlements finalized Tuesday in two federal lawsuits.
The two lawsuits were the latest in a nearly four-year dispute between the Islamic Society of Basking Ridge and Bernards Township, New Jersey, which had denied zoning approval for the Islamic society to build a mosque. It would have been the first and only mosque in the town, and the society bought the proposed mosque site because zoning of the land permitted houses of worship, according to court documents.
In March 2016, the Islamic society sued the town. The Department of Justice filed suit against Bernards Township in November. Monday’s settlements resolve both lawsuits, according to court documents. “Federal law requires towns to treat religious land use applications like any other land use application,” acting US Attorney for New Jersey William E. Fitzpatrick said in a statement. “Bernards Township made decisions that treated the Islamic Society of Basking Ridge differently than other houses of worship. The settlement announced today corrects those decisions and ensures that members of this religious community have the same ability to practice their faith as all other religions.”The complaint also alleged that while the Islamic society’s application was pending, the township revised its zoning code so the Islamic society application couldn’t meet the requirements. The complaints also detailed reports of intimidation and harassment in the community, noting that “fliers, social media and websites denounced the mosque and were filled with anti-Muslim bigotry and references to terrorism and the 9/11 attacks,” according to court documents. Michael Turner, spokesman for Bernards Township, said in a statement the township had entered the settlement on the advice of counsel as “represents the most effective path forward” and that the planning board’s rejection of the Islamic society’s application to build a mosque was always based on accepted land use criteria and was never discriminatory.”
Yes, I took an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States. The first individual right expressed in our Bill of Rights is freedom of religion. The reason that was vital was because of what Henry the VIII had done in England, making himself Head of State and then establishing a state religion, the Church of England, thereby declaring himself Head of Church. It is there we find the basis for the concept expressed by Thomas Jefferson in his letter to the Danbury (Connecticut) Baptist Convention of “separation of church and State” — not found in any of our founding documents, by the way, and certainly not codified as any law. What Jefferson never wanted to have happen was for the State, i.e. the government, to persecute individuals for their religious beliefs and faith.
So it appears that was the basis of the lawsuit brought against Bernards Township in New Jersey. But, am I the only one who sees the hypocrisy here?We’ve come to a point where the State defines what is faith and where it can be expressed. The State is no longer defining freedom of religion, but rather freedom of worship. I would have thought the ACLU and other individual liberty rights groups would have come to the aid of Hobby Lobby, Little Sisters of the Poor, or Sweet Cakes by Melissa in Oregon. In each of these cases, it was the State defining the parameters of freedom of religion and faith, as it intersected with the political agenda of the progressive socialist left.
I must ask, why is it that we didn’t have the Department of Justice bring a lawsuit against those who sought to impose their policies regardless of individual faith in violation of their freedom? I know there will be some liberal progressive self-declared “legal” scholar — much as Obama was a self-described constitutional professor — who will come up with very nebulous wording to contradict this assertion. But, anyone with plain ol’ common sense would ask, who defines freedom of religion? Is it an individual freedom only when it serves a certain agenda? Or when it serves a certain group accepted as part of the dominating political agenda?
Consider the lawsuit brought forth by groups such as the Council for American Islamic Relations (CAIR), whose affiliations with the Muslim Brotherhood cannot be denied, regarding mosque surveillance. Yet, where were the civil liberties groups when the former Houston mayor, Annise Parker, demanded Christian pastors turn over their sermons? Now, you’d figure that was rather discriminatory and a clear-cut violation of the true meaning of Jefferson’s concept of separation of church and state…nah, crickets.If it hadn’t been for a groundswell uprising by the Christian community to bring the issue to light, Mayor Parker would NEVER have retracted her edict. And just imagine if someone were to request the Friday message delivered by imams or Muslim clerics of centers or mosques attended by folks like…Nidal Hasan, Syed Farouk, Omar Mateen? I think you get my point.
The Muslim community “Ummah” here in the United States and all across western civilization is truly blessed. Why so? Because we embody sound classical liberal democratic principles that allow the freedom of religion, or at least for those garnering the affinity of the progressive socialist agenda.
But, does the Christian community fare equally in the Muslim world? I mean, let’s have a serious thought provoking discourse. When was the last time a church or synagogue was allowed to be built in Saudi Arabia? Heck, non-Muslims aren’t allowed entry into Mecca and Medina, the two holiest sites for the religion, for which Dr. Mohammed Ali Chaudry, the plaintiff of the Islamic Society of Basking Ridge, worships. What about the Coptic Christians who suffered two suicide bombings on Palm Sunday killing over 45, and just a week ago, 29 were killed when their bus, heading to a monastery, was attacked by Islamic jihadists. Is it possible for the Copts, Assyrians, and Chaldeans to bring a lawsuit in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Iraq, or elsewhere? I wish it were so, in totality in every Muslim nation.
Tolerance and political correctness in the United Kingdom has resulted in reports that there are some 23,000 Islamic jihadists within their borders. And sadly, because of a reticence to protect their homeland and an open borders policy, the savage who targeted and killed 22 mostly teenaged girls in Manchester, England had just returned from three weeks on vacation in Libya. To add insult to injury, he was on a watch list, along with others who’ve recently rounded up…including his dad who was affiliated with al-Qaida. As I say, “when tolerance becomes a one-way street, it leads to cultural suicide.”
So, the city of Bernards Township, New Jersey is out of $3.25 million dollars. Yes, we took a principled stance based on our rule of law and fundamental belief in the individual right to freedom of religion.
However, is that standard equally applied here in America, as well as in the Muslim world? My thoughtful question to Dr. Chaudry is simple: you and the Islamic jihadists read and proselytize from the same Koran…who is right, and whom shall we believe? It’s time Islam had a reformation and stop with the smorgasbord, buffet-style, religion that can be whatever anyone wants it to be. We are told religion. Yet, the argument can be made for a theocratic-political ideology focused on global dominance shrouded in intolerance. We are told peace. Then we endure the carnage of an eight-year-old girl being murdered just for attending a concert. We are told to be tolerant. Yet we’re confronted with rage and violence.
We seek to be principled, but are we being weak and accommodating, in essence just principally stupid? There is a famous quote that “only the dead have seen the end of war.” Soldiers and warriors long for peace, but they train for war in the hope of deterring it, and if called upon, crush those who reject peace.
We must deny Islamic jihadism sanctuary anywhere and everywhere, and that includes within our borders. We must walk a very delicate line to never surrender the principles of individual liberty for which our great nation was established. But we must equally not allow our ideological opposition a gap by which we can be exploited, all in the name of tolerance, multiculturalism, and political correctness.
To Dr. Mohammed Ali Chaudry of the Islamic Society of Basking Ridge, you won a decision through our legal system, and will be rewarded financial restitution. Consider how blessed you are to be in America…as opposed to the Copts, Assyrians, and Chaldeans. You have a responsibility to be a citizen of this Constitutional Republic first. Do not forget that.
[Learn more about Allen West’s vision for this nation in his book Guardian of the Republic: An American Ronin’s Journey to Faith, Family and Freedom]