To the litany of public safety threats resulting from anti-Muslim fear-mongering, add the fact that Justice Department officials have had to spend time writing a brief explaining that Islam is, in fact, a religion. TPM reports on the DOJ’s amicus brief supporting the expansion efforts of the Islamic Center of Mufreesboro, TN. Opponents have claimed that the Islamic Center can’t get a religious permit to build a new mosque because, they say, Islam isn’t really a religion. The Justice Department did a little research:
"To suggest that Islam is not a religion is quite simply ridiculous. Each branch of the federal government has independently recognized Islam as one of the major religions of the world," Martin said in the press release.
The brief painstakingly cites proof, from the Oxford English Dictionary, Supreme Court rulings, presidential proclamations by Clinton and George W. Bush and the writings of Thomas Jefferson, that Islam has long been recognized as a major world religion.
It also notes the definition of religion set forth by other federal courts, including that a belief system must address "fundamental and ultimate questions having to do with deep and imponderable matters" in order to be considered a religion.
In the brief, the DOJ argues that the lawsuit implicates two federal civil rights statutes, the Religious Land Use Act and the Church Arson Prevention Act, which fall under the DOJ’s purview. The county, the brief argues, would be in danger of violating the land use act were it to deny building permits for the mosque.
A concerted right-wing misinformation campaign has succeeded in making denial of the scientific consensus about climate change a politically acceptable position. Will denying the existence of one of the world’s largest and diverse religions be next?