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Plaintiffs ask if Islam is a religion in mosque trial

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Plaintiffs in a case to stop the construction of a mosque in Murfreesboro spent most of Wednesday questioning whether Islam is a religion. The case resumed two days after the federal government filed a motion in the case.

Attorney Joe Brandon Jr. fought through more than 20 sustained defense objections including badgering the witness, being argumentative and asking irrelevant questions.

"Isn't it true that in the Qur'an Mohammad had a six-year-old wife that he had sex with," Brandon asked a county commissioner on the stand. "Is that your idea of what a religion is?"

The U.S. Department of Justice filed an amicus curiae with the court Monday stating unequivocally that Islam is a religion and defended the Constitutional right of Americans to freely worship.

"Presidents as far back as Lincoln and Jefferson, and as recent as President George W. Bush, have publicly recognized Islam as one of the world's largest religions," U.S. Attorney Jerry Martin stated in a press conference on Monday.

Brandon took issue with the federal government's position in his questioning of county commissioners he called as witnesses.

"The federal government cited Thomas Jefferson in their press conference, and he owned slaves," Brandon asserted to Commissioner Gary Farley. "Is that who they want to cite as an authority?"

Both County Mayor Ernest Burgess and Commissioner Will Jordan cited the federal government as one source of many claiming Islam is a religion.

"Did you say that you want the federal government that supported slavery to tell this court that Islam is a religion," Brandon asked Jordan.

Plaintiffs sought with each witness to challenge the county's May 24 approval of a site plan for the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro (ICM) under religious use of right zoning ordinances on the grounds that Islam is not a religion.

"Sharia law includes instruction on how to beat your wife," Brandon told Burgess on the witness stand. "How is Sharia law going to affect our society, our jobs and our freedoms?"

Brandon asked each commissioner called as a witness if they believed cults led by David Koresh and Jim Jones qualified as religions.

"Do you remember Jim Jones who killed all those people who drank the Kool-Aid," Brandon asked Burgess. "Is that what's going on with the ICM?"

Brandon also asked each commissioner if they believed in tenets of Sharia law that plaintiffs claim ICM members will institute in Murfreesboro.

"Do you believe in having sex with children," Brandon asked Farley to the gasps of the audience and a quickly sustained objection that the court was degrading into a circus.

Millie Evans, a 45-year resident of Rutherford County, revealed under cross examination the name of a group aiding plaintiffs in this case. Evans was asked how she got in touch with the plaintiffs pointing to a nonprofit helping Brandon.

"We've been in touch for weeks and weeks on this," Evan told the court. "I donated myself. I don't know where the money went to. P.T. something."

Evans told the court she wrote a $500 check and gave $100 in cash to a nonprofit she says told her it is here to educate the community on the dangers of Islam.

The group is called "Proclaiming Justice To The Nations." The group's president, Laurie Cardoza-Moore, has been an outspoken critic of the proposed mosque at prior public meetings of the Rutherford County Commission.

"We work with the attorneys in this case," Cardoza-Moore told the Post. "We're like a community activist group."

Before recessing for the day, Chancellor Robert E. Corlew, III made the court aware of an early morning motion filing an amicus curiae on behalf of Louis E. Johnston Jr. along with a copy of his book on Sharia law.

The case resumes Thursday morning at 8:30.
Read more from:
Ernest Burgess, Gary Farley, Islamic Center of Murfreesboro, Joe Brandon, Robert Corlew, RuCo, Will Jordan
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Members Opinions:
October 21, 2010 at 1:50am
This courtroom-theater cage fighting is doomed to failure...but... I secretly agree with the plaintiff's negative assessment of Islam's status as a 'religion'. Any status change would threaten the rights and entitlements accorded all religions by the Constitution. The problem, of course, is if this case were won and became settled law, how would you prevent others from bringing suit against Christianity and other faiths based upon similar arguments? While I recognize that Christianity is qualitatively distinct from Islam (they are diametric opposites in terms of ethics and mores), what is to prevent the legal argument of "redefinition by special supernaturalism"?
October 21, 2010 at 6:50am
Contrary to what attorney Joe Brandon would have us believe, the words "Allahu Akbar" mean that God is great. 99% of the time this is not a battle cry. Allah is Arabic for God. God means "Infinite". In other words "Everything is great" :) ALLAHU AKBAR!
October 21, 2010 at 6:55am
In my opinion, here are the 4 main reasons for the sudden rise in Islamophobia:

1 - BRING ON THE END TIMES: There is a racial Evangelical theology of Apocalyptic Christianity which says that we are living in the End Times and that, in order for the Messiah to return there is a certain timeline, involving Israel. This is an Evangelical movement and not a Jewish movement. There are an estimated 30 million Americans who not only support this movement, but their powerful political influence makes and breaks presidents, senators, congressmen, judges and on and on. This fanatical religious group can even influence the world’s greatest super-power to go to war. Sure, I’m worried about Islamic terrorism, but this group really, really, really freaks me out.

2 - GROW THE BASE: By sounding the alarm bells and announcing that a “Mega Mosque” is being built in the Bible Belt, the radical right is able to grow its base. More people send in money to the 700 Club, the RNC, right wing candidates and of course more people go out and vote. People in the South are not as concerned about a so-called “Ground Zero Mosque” up there in the North, but the idea that “Sharia Law” is going to take over in the Bible Belt is a real hot button issue during this election season. Or course, Muslim Americans making up less than one percent of the total population in this country, the idea that one percent will arm themselves and take over is nothing short of paranoid and psychotic nonsense, but it sells. With the right marketing, this could be the new Red Scare.

3 - DIVIDE AND CONQUER: The super rich, such as Tea Party backers like the Koch Brothers (the 5th and 6th richest men in America) and Rupert Murdoch (owner of Fox “News”) want to keep us all distracted and confused and fighting each other so that we don’t organize against the very powers that took our jobs away, gave our tax money to the big corporations and are kicking us out of our homes. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, historically when times get tough, the power elite will always look for ways to pit tribe against tribe in order to prevent us from storming the castle.

4 - BOMB, BOMB IRAN: President Eisenhower, in his cautionary final speech to the American people before leaving office, warned us of the dangers of the emerging “Military Industrial Complex”. This is the unholy alliance between government and defense contractors and lobbyists to hijack our Democratic political system and use our tax money, to not only build more and more war machines, but also to find reasons to use them. The sudden rise of Islamophobia in America is an effort on the part of the “Defense” Contractors, oil companies and other special interests to manufacture consent for the bombing of Iran.
October 21, 2010 at 8:37am
You call this a religion?

Bible orders followers to kill infidels (2 Chronicles 15:13):
"anyone who refused to seek the Lord, the God of Israel, would be put to death—whether young or old, man or woman."

Bible orders followers to kill those who worship differently (Exodus 22:20):
"He that sacrificeth unto any god, save unto the LORD only, he shall be utterly destroyed."

Bible orders followers to kill non-virgins (Deuteronomy 22:20-21):
"if this thing be true, and the tokens of virginity be not found for the damsel: Then they shall bring out the damsel to the door of her father's house, and the men of her city shall stone her with stones that she die"
October 21, 2010 at 11:46am
Arguments of the kind generated by concern regarding Muslim beliefs, are likely not to generate anything other than heat--but until certain things happen,here and elsewhere,from them we likely will see no relief....

Here's something about an apparently successful local effort
to achieve "reconciliation" in Voorhees, NJ,
that appears to have relevance for the ongoing situation in Murfreesboro--
and for all similar contexts in the U.S. of A.

Posted on Thu, Oct. 21, 2010

Voorhees mosque seen as a national model
By Edward Colimore Philadelphia Inquirer Staff Writer

Emotions were running high at the zoning board meetings in Voorhees. One resident after another stood up to denounce a mosque proposal. Some were stirred by anonymous fliers warning of "extremists" with possible "connections to terrorists."

Issues such as those reflected by the debate in Voorhees(NYC, Murfreesboro, et al),
unfortunately cannot be resolved locally in the U.S. of A.
but can only be laid to rest by national Muslim communities,
here and abroad; by what they do not only, but also what they say.

No group identified by ethnicity and religion, in recent history,
has generated (so many) individuals who have caused so much grief;
and critical to the debate, without swift, unrelenting condemnation
from the larger communities apparently sharing a common belief.

Local efforts at "reconciliation", of course, are always welcome,
but the underlying problem will never go away
until every national Muslim community "excommunicates" its jihadists,
and puts all of them who act "jihadistically" completely and permanently away.

Of course we won't await that happy consummation with bated breath
for prolonged lack of oxygen can be worse than debilitating;
but in the meantime we may hope against hope that the points noted, above,
might be injected by moderators wherever "Muslim-related" issues are being debated.

October 21, 2010 at 1:21pm
Of course it's a religon, and a government, and a justice system and so forth. The more of them that come here the more they will try to force thier laws and beliefs on us. We must arm ourselves and be ready to fight them in the streets.
October 21, 2010 at 2:53pm
{Bible orders followers to kill infidels (2 Chronicles 15:13):
"anyone who refused to seek the Lord, the God of Israel, would be put to death—whether young or old, man or woman."
Bible orders followers to kill those who worship differently (Exodus 22:20):
"He that sacrificeth unto any god, save unto the LORD only, he shall be utterly destroyed."
Bible orders followers to kill non-virgins (Deuteronomy 22:20-21):
"if this thing be true, and the tokens of virginity be not found for the damsel: Then they shall bring out the damsel to the door of her father's house, and the men of her city shall stone her with stones that she die"]

The point is not so much what the Bible says
as what Bible readers tend to do,
an observation that for Quran readers
appears to be equally true.

In the present instance, for example,
whereas Bible readers seem not to take stoning doctrine to heart,
at least a sizable number of Quran readers apparently to do so,
And have elevated that practice to an art.

It's not so much what folks tend to read
as what they're observed to do
that seems important generally--
and quite apt in the present context, too.

October 21, 2010 at 7:48pm
There is a practical working definition of religion as compared to politics. Religious practices are done by those who follow that religion and are motivated for achieving paradise and avoiding hell. Outsiders are not involved in those religious acts. If it is about going to heaven and avoiding hell, then it is religious. However, if the religion makes a demand on those outside of its own group, then that demand is political.

Most people think that the Koran is a religious text. Instead, 64% of the text (by word count) is about non-Muslims, who are called Kafirs. The Koran is fixated on Kafirs and makes many demands on them. Not the least is that Kafirs submit to the rule of Islamic Sharia law. Ultimately Sharia law is the pure expression of Islamic politics and it completely contradicts our Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Under Sharia there is no freedom of speech, wives may be beaten and apostates murdered.

October 21, 2010 at 8:41pm
Thanks caronhalt for writing what is so true.It's not Muslims,it's the qur'an,and to E Bell,your worried about Islamic terrorism in the US? May I ask what will inspire such action,do you think the qur'an maybe,no it can't be so,Islam is a relgion of peace.
October 21, 2010 at 10:16pm
Why ask Burgess about the history of Islam he probably doesn't know. Even the plaintiffs don't know much about Islam or maybe even their own Religion. They just pick and choose what sounds good. Like Jefferson owning slaves so that affects his writings of the Constitution. If given the chance all of these plaintiffs would have slaves today! Then we have witnesses being paid, some with their own money, to testify about googled text that is, at most, hearsay!

This reminds me of "Talk Radio" where only one side speaks with no differing points of view. Oh yes, sometimes they put a complete moron on the air to make them sound good; or if someone has a valid point then it is time for a commercial break.
If the defendants were to lose, which I doubt, this would definitely head to the State Supreme Court. It would be worth it to see Moore, Wall, Snow, and Fisher spend more of their money!
October 21, 2010 at 10:43pm

You need to do your homework instead of just posting what you heard from Bill Warner or some other self-righteous witch hunter! "kafir" refers to those who believe in "No God", or atheist's! It is seldom used by moderate Muslims because it goes against the teachings of the Quran which states "Only use kind words when speaking"! Extremist use it in their propaganda tough. Likewise "Infidel" means the same thing, but it is not an Arab word, it derives from 1500's Christians using it to refer to any Religion not their own. In the 1600's the term was used by Christians toward Jews, today Christians use "non-believer" because the word "infidel" restricted common dialog in Religious discussions. One can see that it is doing exactly that now. My advise to all is educate yourself and stop following the herd. Don't even take everything someones writes in these comments as being the truth either, even what I write! Google it! Read both sides of newsprint, and most importantly......THINK FOR YOURSELVES!
October 21, 2010 at 11:57pm
:ellie and specialk
In Chronicles King Asa was quite a zealot, but this was his words (or the words of his drive to be zealous, so to speak). We must remember that this is an account, not God sitting down and writing what he thinks literally in every circumstance. Also, later in King Asa's life, he actually basically refuses to trust in the Lord, even on his death bed, most likely from his constant war he was not relinquished from because of another initial distrust in God. So, he really wasn't all that high and mighty.

In Exodus 22, this passage is basically a re-enforcement of the commandment, "have no gods before me". Now in our present day, we could not and would not kill others for this mistake, partially because we dont have the authority (in most cases), and partially because we are trying very hard to see the good in people and practice the New Testament principle of grace (even though we are all inherently evil). There is actually a parallel in the quranic text (17:23), so we can't totally discredit the weight death (whether meant literally or merely referring to spiritual death) holds when the people were already commanded (by means of the commandments) not to worship false gods or idols.

Again in Deuteronomy, we see a afterthought of another commandment, "do not commit adultery". Marriages were arranged in these times, and a man was betrothed to what was already considered his wife at times in excess of a year before they were actually married. This commandment is also paralleled in the quran, and again it is made clear in the commandments that this is a direct disobedience to God. If we look at it this way, then there was nothing wrong with stoning an adulterer.

God made the law to give the people concrete commandments, which they were supposed to uphold. When they lacked the ability to do this, and thus continually sinned because they were being disobedient to God, then the issue of Christ comes into place. Now according to the New Testament, we are constantly "dead in sin" as opposed to being put to death by Old Testament standards. This is why Christ's commitment is viewed as such a sacrifice because he died for all sin, and if one now comes to him, they inherit the Kingdom. Another thing is that these Old Testament rituals are no longer practiced, at least not by New Testament adhering, mainstream Christians.

Finally, I am afraid you arent going to find much in the New Testament about people being put to death, because this God is a God of peace. In Revelation or Apocalyptic references perhaps because this is a battle of good and evil where the Sovereignty is finally realized, but in everyday application, no. As a matter of fact, if the model universally was after the God of the New Testament, we would have no problems with any of this conflict because we would be encouraging one another. I know that sounds cheesy, but true.

In closing, specialk, you are right that it is not what people read, but what they do. However, we must also realize that not everything was meant to be literal, just as not everything was meant to be metaphorical. The Bible itself actually says that not everyone will understand the bounds of its content, unless they are enlightened to the Holy Spirit. I am not sure if the quran is the same (in regards to some being literal and some being metaphorical), but I do know that we have to take ourselves out of the box on some issues and listen to our conscience (or what Christians call the Holy Spirit in a way). If, in fact, there is killing, polygamy, child defilement, abortion, or anything else where a moral decision can be deducted from the circumstance, and those reading the quran are taking those things literally, I feel there is a lesson in conscience and common sense that needs to be learned.

..and yes they are both religions in the sense that they worship a higher being..even though there many view the worship of no higher being as a religion in and of itself..

Thank you for your time...
October 22, 2010 at 4:59am
Redwing - your typing looks EXACTLY like that of Kevin Fisher. Amazing.
October 22, 2010 at 7:40pm
@EA Bell,I find this amazing,I do not know the name Kevin Fisher,never heard of this person.Hey markid,you talked about moderate muslims,no such thing,it's only islam.What is Da'wah,deceive the infidels,then you havetaqiyah:to conceal,and kitman which means only telling part of the truth,and of course Da'wah must tell us that islam is a relgion of peace,who is listening to this,the liberal left.
October 25, 2010 at 11:41am
I suppose one should point Joe Brandon to the Catholic church. Are we to no longer recognise that as a religion because of a few (and yes it IS a minority) pedophile priests?

According to some sorces, A'Isha was six when she was betrothed to the Prophet, and the marriage was consummated several years later (when she was 9 or 10. Other sources say the betrothal occurred at 9 or 10, and she was 15 or 16 when they married.

Regardless of the case, in that era (early 600s), things were far different than they are now, and that wasn't an uncommon thing. I'm quite certain you'd even find it in Christianity.
October 27, 2010 at 9:26am
Call me a bigot, I don't care. The problem with liberal America is that they are blind to the underlying goals of the Islamic Movement. I do not need any religion forcing me to submit to their beliefs - which is the goal of Islam.

From the youngmuslims website:

Our task in general is to stand against the flood of modernist civilization overflowing from the swamp of materialistic and sinful desires. This flood has swept the Muslim nation away from the Prophet’s leadership and Qur’anic guidance and deprived the world of its guiding light. Western secularism moved into a Muslim world already estranged from its Qur’anic roots, and delayed its advancement for centuries, and will continue to do
so until we drive it from our lands. Moreover, we will not stop at this point, but will pursue this evil force to its own lands, invade its Western
heartland, and struggle to overcome it until all the world shouts by the name of the Prophet and the teachings of Islam spread throughout the world.
Only then will Muslims achieve their fundamental goal, and there will be no more "persecution" and all religion will be exclusively for Allah. "With
Allah is the decision, in the past and in the future: on that day shall the believers rejoice." [Qur’an 30:4]

For those who have Netflix, watch the instant movie Islam: What the West Needs to Know.
October 27, 2010 at 12:06pm
"I do not need any religion forcing me to submit to their beliefs - which is the goal of Islam."

Funny, some could say the same of Christianity.
October 27, 2010 at 10:56pm
I am certainly glad the word was some...

The chief principle behind salvation in the realm of Christianity is that it is a free gift, which is freely offered by grace. The acceptor must reach out and accept on faith- "by grace through faith", so to speak.

Actually Revelation speaks of the good news being proclaimed to all nations yes, but I do not believe Christians are forcing anyone, at least the "Christians" that aren't misinterpreting the message.

The real Christian, all in all, is not forced into anything- they must accept it for themselves. If they were forced, it would be much more religious, so to speak, rather than a lifestyle led by the Holy Spirit.
November 04, 2010 at 7:36pm
I have done my homework markid - plenty of it and I don't want to get sidetracked by definition of a word

The Bottom line is:

Mohammed's success depended on politics, not religion. The Sira, Mohammed's biography, gives a highly detailed accounting of his rise to power. He preached the religion of Islam for 13 years in Mecca and garnered 150 followers. He was forced to move to Medina and became a politician and warrior. During the last 9 years of his life, he was involved in an event of violence every 6 weeks. When he died every Arab was a Muslim. Mohammed succeeded through politics, not religion.

There would be no Islam today, if it were only a religion. Statistics show that Islamic politics is what brought Islam success, not religion. To say that Islam is only another religion misses the point, since the religion is not the core of Islam's power. It is politics that count, not religion.

The statistical conclusion: Islam is primarily a political ideology.
November 08, 2010 at 4:29pm
@caronhalt: But aren't Islamic politics determined by Muslim praxis... in short, they are a faithful extension of the Quran? How can you separate the two? It's like trying to separate thought from action.
August 31, 2011 at 3:19pm
It is comical that some believe Islam is somehow antithetical to Christianity. Both religions, along with Judaism are Abrahamic, monotheistic religions, and all three share many of the same fantasies in regards to 'God's Law'.
Fortunately for all of the locally deluded followers of all faiths, our great nation allows all equal protection under the law. Unfortunately we have to continually witness the generally nasty behavior of their adherents busily trying to defame, harm, and/or murder one another in their God's name.
Here's hoping we can end all superstition in our lifetime.
February 07, 2012 at 2:00pm
I can understand why people believe that Islam is not a peaceful religion, but once anyone reads the Quran they will understand that it is probably the most peaceful religion out there. The Sharia law does not promote to beat your wife; it is simply guidelines which Muslims follow. Islam is a very beautiful religion. It teaches its women that they are like swans; they are beautiful individuals who should be respected and therefore should cover themselves up so that only their husbands can see their true beauty. They do not deserve to be treated like sex objects, because like any other religion originally, sex is an intimate thing which should be cherished and only saved for your husband. Christianity and Islam are actually very similar. Both religions believe in the same God, who created the universe. Both religions believe in the prophets God sent down such as: Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, Joseph, Jesus, Mohammad, etc. Both religions believe that Mary, the mother of Jesus, was a virgin when he was born. There are many more similarities such as Judgment day, the return of Jesus and his murder of Anti-Christ and etc. Many people seem to judge Islam by the actions of a few immoral people. One group of people cannot be judged based off others’ actions. There are plenty of people who do wrong in this world, but their kind is not judged off of their actions, so why are Muslims judged? Islam is a peaceful religion and anyone who has read and understood the Quran realizes that.
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