During this holy season of Ramadan Muslims are renewing their commitments to God—engaging in a time of fasting, prayer and study. Ramadan is one of the most beautiful pillars of Islam. It is one that I, as a Christian pastor and politician, appreciate very much.
I'm sorry, this Ramadan, that Muslims in Bayonne are not celebrating the approval of plans for a new Mosque. I am sorry that they instead need to reflect on the role that blatant bias played in their inability to get the permits needed to move forward as planned with transforming an old warehouse into a house of prayer.
The town can claim 'parking' was the reason for the denial, and maybe they'll be able to hide bigotry under a bushel basket. But the anti-Muslim rhetoric, the displays of fear--they were writ large throughout the process. I'm glad the Muslim community group is suing the town.
It is my hope and prayer that towns, if they have concerns about permits for houses of worship, will really seek to make room for the great variety of religious expressions that are here in our great state. If the issue really is parking then help the Muslim community find another location in town. If the issue really is bigotry, then stop making Muslims go a less-than-honest series of meetings about parking. Cut to the chase—address anti-Muslim bigotry.
I am running for governor as the Green Party candidate. I am committed to a New Jersey that is fair and just for everyone, starting with the last. Until Muslims are treated better by the city of Bayonne, and Basking Ridge, and anywhere else they choose to gather for worship, Muslims are first to me. May it be the case, one day, that we are all equal--even as we are in the eye of our Maker.
The last shall be first.
The Last Are First