ACLU to Represent Mayfield, KY Muslims

In Mayfield, Ky a local group of Muslims was recently denied a zoning permit for them to use a spot in a strip mall as a mosque.  Originally the zoning board approved the permit but after public outcry, the decision was revoked.  Another meeting was arranged so the public could comment on record,however when a representative from the Muslim community arrived to make the Muslim community’s case , he was turned away at the door because the room was full of all other locals, many if not all of them opposed to the plan. The permit was denied due to “inadequate parking”, the allocated space for the rented section of the strip mall only had 6 spaces. You can read more about the decision via the local NPR station.

Thankfully the ACLU has taken up the case:

The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Kentucky have agreed to represent Khadar Ahmed, a resident of Mayfield, Kentucky, who was denied a permit last month by the Mayfield Board of Zoning Adjustment to operate a Muslim worship center in the town’s central business district.

Michael Aldridge, Executive Director of the ACLU of Kentucky [said,] “The fact that Mr. Ahmed was initially granted a permit and then had it taken away without there being any change in circumstances is troubling.”

“Preventing any group from freely practicing their faith is unlawful and contrary to core American values,” said Daniel Mach, Director of the ACLU Program on Freedom of Religion and Belief. “While we remain open to alternative avenues of resolution, governmental actions that have the effect of denying individuals the right to practice their religion must be challenged.”

Hopefully the local Mayfield Government will realize that they made a huge mistake and will do the right thing before they cost themselves and the citizens of Mayfield lots of money in a legal battle.

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A Bad Law…with a bit of an upside.

The Kentucky House today passed a bill that would allow for the creation of  license plates that bears “In God we Trust” on it as an alternative to the general plate that is given to Kentuckians at no charge.  Now I know that as our “national motto”, (and I use that loosely), the phrase does not come without controversy.  Yet just last year this happened:

The Transportation Cabinet rejected that request, saying that the group promotes a “specific faith or religious position.”

Unfortunately since this is a Kentucky congressional matter it most likely won’t be held up to the same standards as a private group would.  I urge you to write to your state senator and ask them to oppose this as it basically discriminates against people who don’t trust in god, mainly atheists, agnostics, and non-theists.  Thankfully the transportation cabinet denied the group who applied for a specialty plate last year, on the grounds that it violated KRS186.162(pdf) The specific section are as follows:

(e)The group shall not have as its primary purpose the promotion of any specific faith, religion, or antireligion;

Unfortunately, the license plates are being put into the same section of law as the general license plate requirements section which will basically bypass the special group requirements.  The specific bill  creates/amends sections of the Kentucky Revised Statutes(Kentucky Law) ; it can be found here.

One good bit of new from all of this, one representative voted against the bill, Rep. Mary Lou Marzian, D-Louisville.  I will personally be writing her to thank her for taking the right stance on this and sticking up for those who don’t believe in a god or gods, and I’d encourage every Kentuckian out there to do the same.  I’m sure she’s catching lots of flak from people for voting against it.  Let’s let her know that we appreciate that kind of stance in our legislature.

Update: The corresponding Kentucky Senate bill is SB 36