EC writes in after a long while:
Re your splendid post, You have been mislead [sic] by persons of parties who probably should be brutally suppressed, once you get around to it.
You wrote: “Actually, the President is correct on a few points: in America (thank God), you have the right to build a house of worship on any private property anywhere. ” I am grieved to inform you that this is not the case, if it ever was. I have personally seen several religious building projects banned by our local (San Mateo) county and by its several cities. Not just Christian projects, but also a Bhuddist [sic] temple. Don’t know about any Jewish, Hindu or Muslim projects that have been rejected, but there may well have been some.
As I noted in an email to some of my colleagues, the First Amendment does prevents [sic] the Federal Government from establishing a religion and forbids the Federal Government from preventing the free practice of religion by others. Free practice does not override the other laws of the land: we bar human sacrifice, consanguineous [sic] marriage, polygamy hallucinogenic drugs and slavery, although we do not ban the practice of religions that contain these beliefs. We allow people to pretty much believe what they want and even to advocate activities that we prohibit, but we do crack down on people who break these prohibitions. (Not uniformly and not very efficiently, but we do prosecute lawbreakers, at least in concept.)
So, religious organizations may not be allowed to build whatever project they wish on land that they own, but they cannot be so disallowed because they are a specific religion. The constitution requires equal treatment of all religions, but that is not the First Amendment’s concern. When does a cult rise to become a religion? Should all religions be treated equally, considering that not all religions are equally accepting of the Constitution itself? Good questions, and not definitively answered in our body of law yet, which leads to much argument. Now, while your statement was in error, I sincerely wish that you were correct and hope that you and yours may get around to rectifying this situation, which would make your statement retroactively correct.—ec
The Czar has dispatched his okhrana to find further descriptions of the events. Religion construction projects can be denied based on numerous reasons: the area of land is too small to support a project of a given size, the traffic patterns (particularly in a residential area) can be severely disrupted, the plan or requirements for steeples or other structures greatly exceed what is allowed in a given area per code or per FAA flight plans, or because non-religious funds or donations for non-religious purposes were being used. The Czar has seen a church denied because the sprinkler system requirements exceeded the construction budget, and neither party was willing to budge. The Czar’s own university was denied a landfill project because the authorization to commence construction was issued by the state, but the state lacked legal authorization to do so. There can be many reasons a construction project can be denied. However, this does not deny them a right to build there.
In many cases, in theory, modifying the designs or changing the plans can ameliorate the problem. But sometimes religions cannot afford the changes. Sometimes, though, the disruption caused by the construction or by the resultant structure can effectively prevent that particular patch of property from being used (“Look, if you put in a 1,000-car parking lot, you’re going to back up traffic for miles every Sunday, and with the fire department right there, we can’t allow it.” These decisions are made for practical or legal (or even red tape) reasons, but not for religious reasons (“Sorry, Our Lady of the Evening, but Catholics cannot build there.”).
From all accounts, the mosque at Ground Zero would meet code, zoning, height, size, and construction requirements, and cannot be denied on any legal reason. The Czar and ‘Puter (who is smarter than the Czar on these matters) stand by their statements. To put it another way, you have a right to own a firearm. That does not mean, of course, that you can easily get one any time you want. Restrictions below that right can prevent it.
The Czar adds that he almost called his original post “Swatting at Mosque-itos.” And now ‘Puter stole the joke.