posted on Jan, 31 2008 @ 05:59 PM
Having read the original article, and the entire thread to date, I'm going to suggest that if jumping to conclusions was an Olympic event, posters
here could probably bring home the gold, the silver, the bronze, and at least a few honorable mentions.
There seems to be an assumption that all the members of the city council are Christian, and that they hate Islam. Does anyone here know the actual
people in question? If so, I haven't seen them post. I also haven't seen anyone post that they live in the city in question, or that they attended
the city council meeting. In short, we know next to nothing about the people who made the decision, the information upon which that decision was
based, or the circumstances in which the decision was made. That rather limits our ability to make any sort of informed commentary on their decision.
Even assuming that they were all Christians (not a given by any means, even in a small town in the middle of the Bible Belt), it's still a long
stretch to assume that the denial of a zoning variance was religiously motivated. I can speak to this issue from both sides of the aisle, since I was
a city councilman for six years, mayor of a small town for two years, and pastor of a small church (in a different town) for four years. I've
presided over zoning votes, I've participated in zoning votes, and (amusingly enough) had building plans shot down by zoning votes. When my small
church decided to build an actual building (rather than meeting in a rented storefront), we applied for a permit, and got turned down because of
traffic flow...there were already four churches in the area, and while traffic was fine Monday through Saturday, traffic around noon on Sunday was
enough to make a preacher cuss. Trust me. When we got turned down, I didn't hire a lawyer and threaten a suit, I got the Building and Grounds
committee together and we found a new site. We got turned down there because of problems with the electrical service. We still didn't sue, we found a
third site and applied for yet another permit. The last time I visited my old stomping grounds, New Hope Baptist Church was alive and well....I got
invited to the current pastor's home for Sunday dinner, and was invited to speak at the evening services.
The point of my rather rambling story is that we don't know anything of consequence about the situation, but rejection of a zoning variance doesn't
constitute a "Crusade"...it constitutes rejection of a zoning variance, nothing more, and nothing less. It's not an infraction of freedom of
religion, freedom of expression, nor is it persecution.
As for people in the town having opinions (pro or con) about Islam as a faith, doesn't freedom of expression extend to those people as well? Even if
you don't agree with them, they have a right to express their opinion.
I'd suggest that if folks here are really worried, they should keep an eye on this situation. If this congregation gets turned down six or seven
times, then you might have evidence of a "Crusade", but one rejection really doesn't measure up.