Islamophobia is on the Rise, Exhibit B: Bryan Fischer
Even those who used to debate whether Islamophobia exits or not probably have no leg to stand on, as it is evident with all the rhetoric and flashpoints across America, Islamophobia is on the rise.
Bryan Fischer a leader in the conservative American Family Association echoes Euro-supremacist Geert Wilders statements that Islam isn’t a religion. This line of attack is becoming more and more common.
by John Cook
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One of the leaders of the conservative American Family Association has taken the debate over the Cordoba Mosque in lower Manhattan to a new level. Bryan Fischer, the group’s director of issue analysis, is calling on his blog and radio show for a nationwide moratorium on the construction of any mosque, anywhere. “Permits should not be granted to build even one more mosque in the United States of America, let alone the monstrosity planned for Ground Zero,” Fischer wrote on Tuesday. “This is for one simple reason: each Islamic mosque is dedicated to the overthrow of the American government.”
That’s an odd position for an ostensibly religious organization to have. But it’s especially odd because the American Family Association filed a federal lawsuit in 2003 accusing a county government in Georgia of violating federal law and the Constitution for refusing to grant a permit to build a church.
As we’ve mentioned previously, many of the groups who have endorsed the idea of using preservation laws to block the construction of the mosque have previously argued precisely the opposite when the imperiled project was a church. Indeed, the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 (RLUIPA) explicitly bars local governments from “implement[ing] a land use regulation in a manner that imposes a substantial burden on the religious exercise of … a religious assembly or institution,” unless there’s a compelling government interest in doing so. Many of the groups that have come out against the mosque — and in favor of stopping it with land-use laws — have filed federal lawsuits under the act.
You can add the American Family Association to their number. In 2003, the AFA helped the Victory Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church in Henry County, Ga., file a federal lawsuit accusing the county of violating RLUIPA, as well as Victory’s constitutional rights to free exercise of religion, due process, and equal protection under the laws, for refusing to grant a building permit for a new church. The group prevailed, and celebrated the win in the AFA newsletter.
Now the AFA appears to be advocating the express violation of the very law that allowed for that victory, under the theory that mosques don’t count. A call to the AFA to clear up the inconsistency was not immediately returned.
UPDATE: Fischer returned our phone call. Turns out we weren’t too far off: Mosques don’t count! “I’m not a lawyer,” he told The Upshot, “but I have a layman’s understanding of the RLUIPA. And there’s a key difference between that case and mosques: Islam is not just a religion. It’s a subversive ideology. And as a subversive ideology, they can’t seek protection under the First Amendment.” Since Islam is really a political movement that advocates the imposition of sharia, he said, it doesn’t deserve the same sort of protections that the Victory Tabernacle Missionary Church gets. By the way: One of the bad things about sharia, according to Fischer, is “there is no such thing as religious liberty.” Sounds awful.
Fischer went on to say that “the First Amendment was designed to provide religious liberty for the Christian faith,” but that he is happy to let other religions enjoy its protections so long as they’re not “subversive.” Asked to identify any other subversive religions aside from Islam as a point of comparison, he came up empty. Not even Satanism? “Not that I’m aware of,” he said.
Finally, we asked Fischer why, if Islam is so dangerous, he’s stopping at a moratorium on new mosques. Why not shut down the ones that already exist? “We need to take things one step at a time here,” he said. “We need to turn off the hose first, and then we can figure out how to clean up the mess.”
Fischer said he was speaking as a talk-radio host (he hosts a show on the American Family Radio network),Â and not as a representative of the AFA, which “hasn’t taken a position on the building of mosques.”