Religious coalition stands up for Bible Belt mosque

A new coalition of religious leaders, many based in New York, has started working to defend groups trying to open mosques in different parts of the country.

The group, the Interfaith Coalition on Mosques, took its first action this week in filing a brief opposing a lawsuit that is trying to stop the building of a mosque in Murfreesboro, Tenn.

According to a release from the group:


Opponents of this new mosque had asked a judge to block the project arguing that in approving the mosque, county officials violated Tennessee law by failing to give proper public notice of a meeting discussing the project and placed county citizens at risk because, they claimed, “there was considerable evidence of elevated risks to the public safety of citizens of Rutherford County from the proposed ICM compound.”

ICOM’s amicus brief to the Chancery Court urges the court to rely on “Tennessee’s and America’s well-settled and robust history of religious tolerance and acceptance as its guiding principle,” and argues that nothing in the complaint established the highest-order government interest that would justify interfering with the religious freedom of the mosque’s builders.


A key player in the new coalition is the Anti-Defamation League, which took a lot of criticism for its opposition to the proposed Islamic center near Ground Zero. In that case, the ADL recommended that a different location be found in order to spare 9/11 survivors “more pain.”

The ADL’s Abe Foxman has been trying to explain the group’s position ever since.

The charter members of the new coalition are:

  1. Ambassador Akbar Ahmed, Chair of Islamic Studies, American University
  2. Dr. Saud Anwar, founder and co-chair of American Muslim Peace Initiative (AMPI)
  3. Rabbi Elliott Cosgrove, Senior Rabbi, Park Avenue Synagogue
  4. Abraham H. Foxman, National Director, Anti-Defamation League
  5. Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy, President of the Interfaith Alliance
  6. Rabbi Yitz Greenberg, founder of Center for Leadership and Learning (CLAL), former chairman, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum
  7. Rev. Dr. Katharine Henderson, Executive Vice President, Auburn Theological Seminary
  8. Bishop Paul Peter Jesup, American Representative for the Ukrainian Orthodox Autocephalus Church
  9. Dr. Richard Land, President, The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, Southern Baptist Convention
  10. Msgr. Guy A. Massie, Vicar for Ecumenical and Inter-Religious Affairs, Monsignor, Diocese of Brooklyn
  11. Dr. Eboo Patel, founder and director, Interfaith Youth Core; member of Advisory Council of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships
  12. Father Robert Robbins, Director, Commission for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, Archdiocese of New York