Whether or not a Muslim gets to build an Islamic cultural center should depend on whether or not a Muslim owns property and has the money to build it. I’m not a fan of zoning laws. Atheists use them when they can to harass Christians. While all nations should be Christian nations, I harbor no illusions that America is really one anymore. As such, I don’t see any legal basis for zoning according to a religious doctrine.
But whether or not zoning laws should exist, they do, and the town of St. Anthony, Minnesota has an industrial area. They turned down the application for the building of an Islamic cultural center there.
So the Department of Justice is suing the town.
The Department of Justice has announced that it is suing the small town of St. Anthony, Minnesota, after a two-year investigation into the town’s denial of a permit to create an Islamic cultural center.
The DOJ claims that the north Minneapolis town broke a federal law when it rejected the center in 2012.
“An injustice has been done,” U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger said on August 27. “I will not stand by while any religious group is subject to unconstitutional treatment that violates federal civil rights laws.”
The DOJ claims that the city violated the law when it refused the Abu Huraira Islamic Center the right to create an Islamic cultural center in the basement of the St. Anthony Business Center. The DOJ cites a violation of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act that was enacted in the year 2000.
But the city fathers insist that the decision to deny the permit is based solely on zoning issues and had nothing to do with religion.
“Religious uses of any type are allowed in the vast majority of the city,” City Attorney Jay Lindgren said. “They are just not allowed in the roughly 5 percent of the city reserved for industrial uses. … An industrial zone is designed to create jobs and be an economic engine.”
To buttress its case, the DOJ claimed that there were examples in the past of the city allowing some religious groups to use the zoned areas and also allowing non-industrial uses. But Lindgren said that the city has denied permits to religious sects other than Muslims in the past, proving, he said, that the town isn’t discriminating against Muslims.
The Federal government has no business getting involved. If the decision really violated the law, then the Muslims could go through the courts and appeal to the law. The fact that a Federal agency is jumping in looks to me like an acknowledgment that there is no case here.