Islam (and reason) on trial in Tennessee

Islam is suddenly on trial in a booming Nashville suburb, where opponents of a new mosque have spent six days in court trying to link it to what they claim is a conspiracy to take over America by imposing restrictive religious rule. The current case, unfortunately, is a shame but not a sham. Several residents of Murfreesboro, Tenn., really are challenging the construction of 52,000-square-foot mosque by suing the Rutherford Country planning commission and other county officials.

The plaintiffs argue, among other things, that the county shouldn’t have granted the mosque a religious use permit because, they claim, Islam isn’t really a religion.

The U.S. Justice Department seems to think it’s a bit more than that. The federal government took the unusual action of filing a brief in this county-level case.

“Each branch of the federal government has independently recognized Islam as one of the major religions of the world,” U.S. Atty. Jerry Martin said in a press release.

According to the brief, all of the following authenticated documents have recognized Islam as a major world religion: the Oxford English Dictionary, U.S. Supreme Court rulings, presidential proclamations by Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, and writings by Thomas Jefferson.

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