BERNARDS TOWNSHIP, N.J. — A lawsuit has been filed challenging a settlement agreement that bans residents in a New Jersey town from making remarks about Islam or Muslims during an upcoming public hearing centering on the forthcoming construction of a mosque.
The Thomas More Law Center has filed suit on behalf of a family that lives within 200 feet from where the mosque is expected to be built in Bernards Township.
Christopher and Loretta Quick would like to speak during the Aug. 8 hearing about the various aspects of Islamic life and worship that might affect them as neighbors, but are prohibited from doing so due to city’s acceptance of a settlement agreement that states, “No commentary regarding Islam or Muslims will be permitted” during the event.
“Despite their desire to speak at the special meeting regarding the construction of the Islamic mosque and relevant Muslim worship practices (among other factors related to the impact on their home), plaintiffs are foreclosed from doing so by the settlement agreement based solely upon the content of their speech,” the lawsuit states.
It contends that by banning speech on Islam alone, the township is showing favoritism toward the Islamic religion since the prohibition doesn’t apply to other religions.
“No religion other than Islam is protected … under the settlement agreement. For example, speakers at the hearing are free, under the settlement agreement, to disparage, criticize, and otherwise comment on Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, or any other religion—except Islam,” the complaint notes.
The Quicks are asking the court to declare the settlement agreement unconstitutional and to issue an injunction preventing its enforcement.
A town hall meeting about building a mosque, but residents can’t talk about Islam or Muslims