America’s freedoms sound great in the abstract. But look what happens when we get to freedom of religion.
From recent stories about Muslims running into buzz-saws of protests for building or expanding worship facilities, it would appear that some citizens who enjoy freedom to observe their religion (or be non-religious) are eager to deny this same right to others.
Protests over mosques are in the news from New York to Tennessee (in today’s story from my colleague at the Tennessean, Bob Smietana).
Many folks commenting on today’ Mosque story are fraught with anger at the restrictions aced in Muslim nations on Christian worship. Their comeback: If we can’t pray there, as we wish, then Muslims — including those who are U.S. citizens — shouldn’t be able to pray here. (Hmmm. Doesn’t that seem to undercut the whole celebration of democracy we’re marking today?)
Yes, there are also zoning question. However, those are the same issues that megachurches with their massive traffic flow also face when they want to build or expand.
So if there were special rules for mosques that didn’t cover Methodist churches or Baptists or Jewish synagogues, who would make and enforce those rules — assuming any version could be drawn up that would be constitutional?
Would you want someone in government — an elected government that can change every two to four years — to be in charge of deciding who can build a house of worship in the United States and who cannot? How are you affected by your neighbors’ prayers?