N.J. mosque, finally approved, now under attack by out-of-state bigots | Editorial

The fight over Bernards Township's first mosque appeared to be over. The small Muslim group that sought to build it won, local bigots and their enablers lost.

Yet as township officials now try to do the right thing and allow its construction, they're facing an entirely new adversary: out-of-town crazies.
 
A well-financed group of professional bigots based in Michigan is tying this township up in frivolous lawsuits - even after a federal judge already sided with the Justice Department's conclusion that the township discriminated against Muslims when it initially rejected the mosque.

Known as the Thomas More Law Center, it claims to defend people of faith, but in fact defends only one faith: that la-la-land, far-right strain of Christianity that believes our Christian-majority nation has fallen under Muslim siege.

So more than five years after local Muslims first applied to build a mosque, as Bernards has finally begun to heal, it now must wrangle with these unabashed bigots.
 
The zealot running this parasitic outfit, Richard Thompson, has railed that "Muslims are not arriving on American shores to assimilate but to conquer." For this, he was getting paid $216,000 annually in 2015, according to Charity Navigator; a year in which the center raised almost $1.9 million.
 
A lot of people are willing to bankroll bigotry, apparently. Thomas More is now using its funds to harass Muslims and town officials in New Jersey - where it has already represented two looney tunes who claimed that 7th graders in Chatham public school are being indoctrinated into Islam.
 
Why file fruitless pro-bono lawsuits? Because they win attention and donations, fueling even more lawsuits and donations. It is a racket, plain and simple.
 
As soon as Bernards announced its mosque settlement, Thomas More filed suit, contending the public wasn't given enough notice of the hearing to approve it. Then it sued again, claiming that because the settlement limited public comments to land use and forbid talk of Islam and Muslims, it violated the First Amendment.
 
Clearly nonsense - which is why a judge denied its motion to stop the final hearing to approve the mosque plan. A land use board is prohibited from considering opinions on any religion because that is irrelevant - or at least should be. Yet even though Thomas More doesn't have a case, it's vowed to appeal; likely the first of many challenges.
 
This is sending a destructive message: That soon as towns agree to permit mosques, they'll get sued by anti-Muslim fanatics.
 
Bernards residents who sign up as Thomas More's clients, take note: You are conceding the true nature of your objections. You can no longer claim your opposition to this mosque has nothing to do with Islam. You are aligning yourselves with bigots.

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