You have to give Bob Allen and Associated Baptist Press credit for this tremendous article which so perfect exposes the hypocrisy that Religious Right leaders keep offering up as they seek to justify their fight against the “Ground Zero Mosque” – leaders like Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission:
“I take a back seat to no one when it comes to religious freedom and religious belief and the right to express that belief, even beliefs that I find abhorrent,” said Land, the denomination’s top representative on moral, ethical and religious-liberty concerns. “But what I don’t do is I don’t say that religious freedom means that you have the right to build a place of worship anywhere that you want to build them.”
Land cited a 1997 Supreme Court ruling that upheld the right of officials in Boerne, Texas, to refuse permission for a Catholic parish to expand its building in a district designated for historic preservation.
But Land’s group actually opposed much of the Supreme Courts majority’s reasoning in the City of Boerne v. Flores decision at the time as too restrictive of religious liberty — and Land heavily criticized the decision. The ERLC — then known as the SBC Christian Life Commission — joined a friend-of-the-court brief filed by a broad coalition of religious and civil-liberties organizations that urged the court to decide the case very differently than it ended up doing.
In 1998, Land testified before Congress in favor of a bill — the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act — that restored much of what the Supreme Court gutted in the ruling. In his testimony, he said, “I believe that the Boerne decision is one of the worst decisions rendered by the Supreme Court in its long history.”
He added, “You cannot treat a church or a mosque or a synagogue the same way you treat a bowling alley or a used-car dealership. This Supreme Court said, ‘Yes you can.’ That is outrageous and dangerous.”
So, let me get this straight: Land railed against the Supreme Court’s decision and strongly supported the passage of RLUIPA, which was designed to remedy that very SCOTUS decision, and even testified before Congress in support of the legislation … yet he is now citing the original SCOTUS decision, which he called “one of the worst decisions rendered by the Supreme Court in its long history,” to justify his opposition to the “Ground Zero Mosque”?
Is that doesn’t perfectly encapsulate the hypocrisy at the heart of the Religious Right’s crusade against his building, I don’t know what does.