Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Who is on which side? At FrumForum, we read excerpts from a David Weigel interview
of Grover Norquist:
In an interview just now, Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform made a point about the “ground zero mosque” controversy that I hadn’t heard before. One reason that opponents are going to have trouble legally preventing Park51 from building its Muslim cultural center is that, in 2000, a Republican Congress passed the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act. It’s not that this was a partisan effort. It passed by voice vote in the House and Senate, and was helped through the higher body by Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.). The goal of the legislation, supported by a coalition of religious groups, was to respond to the Supreme Court’s ruling in Employment Division Department of Human Resources v. Smith and give churches, synagogues, mosques and other places of worship more power in disputes with local and municipal authorities.
“This was one of the great victories of the religious right,” said Norquist. “And now some people want to scrap it to make this point?”
Here's a summary of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act
The land use provisions of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 (RLUIPA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000cc, et seq., protect individuals, houses of worship, and other religious institutions from discrimination in zoning and landmarking laws (for information on RLUIPA's institutionalized persons provisions, please refer to the Civil Rights Division's Special Litigation Section ).
In passing this law, Congress found that the right to assemble for worship is at the very core of the free exercise of religion. Religious assemblies cannot function without a physical space adequate to their needs and consistent with their theological requirements. The right to build, buy, or rent such a space is an indispensable adjunct of the core First Amendment right to assemble for religious purposes. Religious assemblies, especially, new, small, or unfamiliar ones, may be illegally discriminated against on the face of zoning codes and also in the highly individualized and discretionary processes of land use regulation. Zoning codes and landmarking laws may illegally exclude religious assemblies in places where they permit theaters, meeting halls, and other places where large groups of people assemble for secular purposes. Or the zoning codes or landmarking laws may permit religious assemblies only with individualized permission from the zoning board or landmarking commission, and zoning boards or landmarking commission may use that authority in illegally discriminatory ways.
To address these concerns, RLUIPA prohibits zoning and landmarking laws that substantially burden the religious exercise of churches or other religious assemblies or institutions absent the least restrictive means of furthering a compelling governmental interest. This prohibition applies in any situation where: (i) the state or local government entity imposing the substantial burden receives federal funding; (ii) the substantial burden affects, or removal of the substantial burden would affect, interstate commerce; or (iii) the substantial burden arises from the state or local government's formal or informal procedures for making individualized assessments of a property's uses.
In addition, RLUIPA prohibits zoning and landmarking laws that: (1) treat churches or other religious assemblies or institutions on less than equal terms with nonreligious institutions; (2) discriminate against any assemblies or institutions on the basis of religion or religious denomination; (3) totally exclude religious assemblies from a jurisdiction; or (4) unreasonably limit religious assemblies, institutions, or structures within a jurisdiction.
The Department of Justice can investigate alleged RLUIPA violations and bring a lawsuit to enforce the statute. The Department can obtain injunctive, but not monetary, relief. Individuals, houses of worship, and other religious institutions can also bring a lawsuit in federal or state court to enforce RLUIPA.
MORE: FrumForum excerpts
from a Salon timeline about how Pamela Geller stoked the mosque "outrage". What's happening over at FrumForum
? If you visit the website today, you couldn't be sure if it was conservative or liberal. (Of course, Frum is still for low taxes and shredding the safety net, but when a bizarro story like the mosque takes hold, allegiance to conservative/Republican talking points doesn't always happen.)
The proponents of the mosque have just as much right to build that mosque as Rev. Phelps and members of his Westboro Baptist Church congregation have the right to stand outside of military funerals protesting with "God Hates Fags" banners.
Both groups are equivalent in my mind, with the one difference that virtually all Baptists vehemently oppose Phelps.
The WTC area is a pure business district. No Muslims live there because no one lives there. Why does a non-existant "community" need a $100,000,000 "community center"?