published Wednesday, February 9th, 2011

Poll: Most in Tennessee support Muslims’ right to build

By Michael Cass

The recent battle over plans to build a mosque in Murfreesboro put tensions about the meaning of Islam in high relief, generating noisy denunciations of Muslims’ faith.

But the people making the most noise were actually outnumbered, a recent poll found.

The statewide poll by Vanderbilt University revealed that 62.6 percent of respondents believe Muslims should have the same rights as other groups to build houses of worship, while 37.4 percent believe local communities should be able to prohibit construction of mosques.

Eric Bell, a Murfreesboro resident and filmmaker who is working on a documentary about the mosque controversy, said he wasn’t surprised by the poll results.

"I have found that a lot of your everyday, mainstream people in Murfreesboro are afraid to speak out against the more vocal, xenophobic people," Bell said.

Murfreesboro attracted national attention last year after Rutherford County’s planning commission approved construction of a 52,000-square-foot mosque by the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro. The organization said it had outgrown the site where it had operated for more than two decades.

Questions about the planning commission’s decision spurred a lawsuit, which was unsuccessful in a Rutherford County court. Arsonists burned excavating equipment at the mosque construction site, and protesters rallied in the streets — all of it against the backdrop of an election season.

John Geer, a political scientist at Vanderbilt, said the new findings show a more measured reality.

"Vocal minorities have a right to be vocal," he said. "But the people who make noise aren’t necessarily representative of the typical person in the state. Public opinion looks a lot more extreme in the absence of polling data."

People of faith

Bell said he was troubled to find that the percentage of people expressing tolerance for Muslims wasn’t higher. Conversely, Rebecca Bynum, publisher and managing editor of the Nashville-based publication New English Review, said she was "encouraged" to find more than one-third of respondents "are wary of having a mosque built in their neighborhood."

"They’re correct to be concerned about the teachings of Islam," she said.

Bynum, the author of a new book titled Allah Is Dead: Why Islam is Not a Religion, said the faith has an "inverted" morality that emphasizes material needs and the supremacy of some people over others. She said she’s been concerned about Islam’s intentions since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

But Rabbi Rami Shapiro, an adjunct professor of religion at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, said most Muslims want the same things other people want.

"We’re not talking about terrorist cells," he said. "We’re talking about people of faith."

Shapiro, who also leads Wisdom House, the interfaith center at Nashville’s Scarritt-Bennett Center, said the presence of multiple faiths in a community should promote dialogue and challenge beliefs "in a healthy way."

"That’s how it works here," he said. "It’s a marketplace of ideas. If you’re interested in the notion of the sacred, if you’re interested in the notion of human religiosity, then the more expressions we have of it, the better off we are."

Contact Michael Cass at 615-259-8838 or mcass@tennessean.com

More:

Tennesseans back gays in military but oppose adoption, marriage

Majority of Tennesseans say immigrants a burden but oppose deportation

6
Comments do not represent the opinions of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, nor does it review every comment. Profanities, slurs and libelous remarks are prohibited. For more information you can view our Terms & Conditions and/or Ethics policy.
My2centsworth said...

If anyone has read the Qur'an -both-versions, then they know that this is not a true religion. It is nothing more than a cult. There is no equality, there is homosexuality, schizophrenic tendency's, paranoia, pedophilia, and male supremacy, It is encouraged that you lie to non-believers and islam is the only path to the 20 promised virgins. Do not start denying or vilifying me until you have read the Qur'an. I do not understand the females of the world. They should especially be outraged by this group of men. " It is allowed and expected that a muslim man should BEAT his wife for any reason he deems it is necessary". He can even force the womans family to take her back if he is not satisified, even years after marriage. Also it is permitted that a muslim man can marry a female of any age he sees fit, all the way to a 1 year old CHILD. The world is a sick place that allows things such as these.

Where is the outcry?

AND lest we forget "where there the practice of the islamic cult there is the practice of SHARIA LAW. Another abomination of so called justice. Yes it is also meted out by 'TOTAL MALE SUPREMACY'.

DO NOT BELIEVE ME? Read up on it yourself. Please show your ignorance by calling me a liar. Doubt what I am saying?

Start here: http://www.usc.edu/schools/college/crcc/engagement/resources/texts/muslim/quran/

From there you will find additional links to more on the islam cult. Make your own judgments.

USSA is one day closer.

February 9, 2011 at 11:10 a.m.
BOOBOO99 said...

MUSLIM HAS THE RIGHT TO BUILD CHURCHES IN TENNESSEE LIKE ANY OTHER FAITH SUCH AS BAPTIST CATHOLIC ETC... MUSLIMS ARE HUMANS LIKE WE ARE.. THERE ARE TERRORIST IN ALL FAITHS..THERES PROBABLY MORE AMERICAN TERRORIST IN USA .SO LETS ALL GET ALONG INSTEAD OF BEING RACIST AND BIGOTS LIKE A LOT ANTI-MUSLIM PEOPLE ARE...THESE PEOPLE WHO TALK BAD ABOUT MUSLIM ARE REALLY COWARDS.

February 9, 2011 at 5:01 p.m.
AmericanValues said...

Booboo99, first of all Muslims don't build churches they build "mosques" Unless you have lived in a country that was overridden with Muslims, you would not understand any of this. Churches get converted to mosques like the St. Hagia Sofia Church in Turkey - today it is a museum with no mention of the true indigneous people that built the country the Christians. They also change the name of Constaniople to Istanbul.

Without a doubt I can say the truth about Islam and Iam NOT a coward. Those that perform Jihad on innocent victims are cowards. When you learn more about Islam and S'haria law that they wish to impose on America then maybe we can have a fair balanced discussion. As it sits you have no idea what a racist is? Islam is NOT a race, it is a cult/religion, there are Asian, Black and Caucasian Muslims.

We know all about this Religion of Peace from Ft. Hood, Tx to Mumbai, India...such a religion of peace. Tell that to what few Christians are even left in the Middle east to the Coptic Christians in Egypt being slaughtered or the Assyrians of Iraq,massacred in their own Church...YES Church the place were non-Moslems worship.

Lastly take down the CAPs people will think you are angry.

February 15, 2011 at 1:26 p.m.
rolando said...

Had Vanderbilt queried me, a most vocal opponent of Muslim BEHAVIOR overseas, I most certainly would have answered "YES"; I am in complete agreement with the First Amendment's guarantee of freedom to worship -- if the Muslim want to build their mosque, let them.

Further, I have seen very little opposition here to their constitutional right to build any kind of center of worship the want. You slant the article to make it appear those here who oppose and condemn the inhuman, prehistoric behavior of Muslims overseas [indicators of what they have in mind for us, perhaps] also would deny them their constitutional, inborn rights. The two issues are completely separate.

But what I oppose completely is a subjugation of the US Constitution in favor of some religious law that violates our most basic rights as human beings...so long as they completely agree with and abide with the laws of the United States, I have no difficulty with their beliefs. But sharia law has already been used to supersede US legal jurisprudence in Florida...precedence has been established.

Unfortunately, what is happening in Muslim countries around the world -- and those countries trying to throw off dictatorships -- is indicative of true Islamic teachings and beliefs...convert or die.

May 6, 2011 at 3:56 p.m.
lkeithlu said...

" But sharia law has already been used to supersede US legal jurisprudence in Florida...precedence has been established."

Evidence and sources, please.

May 6, 2011 at 4:02 p.m.
rolando said...

Already been given to you several times on other threads on this topic. Look it up and repost them here if you wish...or google it. As I have told you before, lkeithlu, I will not be your gofer. Do your own scut work.

May 6, 2011 at 4:06 p.m.
please login to post a comment

Other National Articles

videos »         

photos »         

e-edition »

advertisement
advertisement
400 East 11th St., Chattanooga, TN 37403
General Information (423) 756-6900
Copyright, Permissions, Terms & Conditions, Privacy Policy, Ethics policy - Copyright ©2014, Chattanooga Publishing Company, Inc. All rights reserved.
This document may not be reprinted without the express written permission of Chattanooga Publishing Company, Inc.