Case resumes two days after the federal government files a motion in the case.
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.