MURFREESBORO, Tenn., Aug. 31 (UPI) — Muslims have the same right to build places of worship as other religions, a Tennessee judge said, upholding his refusal to block construction of a mosque.
Chancellor Robert Corlew III said in May opponents of the planned Islamic Center of Murfreesboro have only one ground for challenging the mosque, a claim that the Regional Planning Commission did not give adequate public notice of the meeting where the mosque was approved in May 2010. No trial has been scheduled on that issue, Gannett Tennessee reported.
Corlew said government has an obligation to treat religions evenhandedly whether they are in the majority or have beliefs “very different from the majority.”
“If the zoning laws are too favorable to those seeking to build places of worship, then citizens should prevail upon their elected representatives to change those ordinances, but until they do, the court must apply those laws equally to Protestant Christians, Roman Catholics, Muslims, Buddhists and others,” he said.
Joe Brandon Jr., the lawyer representing 17 Rutherford County residents in their challenge to the mosque, said there is “no case law or code” that says Islam is a religion. He also said he is confident the plaintiffs will prevail on the open meetings violation.