Written by Don Byrd
In a brief filed earlier this week, several religious liberty organizations including the Baptist Joint Committee asked a federal court to side with a Muslim community seeking to build a mosque in Basking Ridge, New Jersey after a local planning board denied their application for a permit. A lawsuit filed by the Islamic Society of Basking Ridge claims the Board applied different standards in evaluating the mosque application than it does for other houses of worship, in violation of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA).
In addition to the BJC, the brief was joined by the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the SBC, the Sikh Coalition, and the American Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists. Here is an excerpt:
Defendants violated RLUIPA by subjecting the Islamic Society of Basking Ridge—a minority faith unpopular with some in the local community—to a different legal standard than every other house of worship in the community. And the municipal parking ordinance confers unbridled discretion on the Planning Board in violation of the Due Process Clause. Such unequal treatment of the mosque in this case represents a potential threat to the free exercise rights of each of the amici represented here and is an affront to our nation’s commitment to religious liberty for all.
The Becket Fund, which filed the suit on behalf of the Islamic Society of Basking Ridge, has more in a press release.