A month ago I wrote about "Religion NIMBYs" in Tennessee who didn't want a mosque built in their neighborhood. Here we go again, only this time the Tennessean didn't assign its veteran religion reporter Bob Smietana. And the finished product reflected that. To be sure, the reporters do a great job showing that despite the claims of fears about traffic and diminished property value, what many residents of Murfreesboro are afraid of is Muslims.
"Everybody knows they are trying to kill us," Karen Harrell said. "People are really concerned about this. Somebody has to stand up and take this country back."
Appearing in the third paragraph of a surprisingly long story, Harrell's comments at a planning commission meeting weren't the only of their ilk. Despite my suspicion that such a perspective would be a one-off, the reporters found a lot of similar, if toned-down, sentiments.
And the reporters do a good job discussing why religious beliefs affected the planning commissioners differently than, say, Harrell. One deficiency, though, is that the reporters don't really explain where these religious beliefs come from. They quote a member of the Islamic center saying that Islam actually teaching "family values" and an opponent saying the "Quran is very explicit about how they should treat infidels" -- but they don't explain where the Quran does either of these or why the world sees such different expressions of Islam.
But what really caught my eye was something pretty simple. It rears its head in this line a third of the way through the story, paraphrasing Rabbi Rami Shapiro:
Shapiro says it's not just radical Islam that should be feared.
In the context of this story, there is only one way to read that: Shapiro thinks other forms of Islam, maybe all forms, should be feared too.
Only that's not what he thinks.
The quote in the next paragraph makes it pretty clear that Shapiro thinks extremists of all religions should cause concern. But talk about an awkward set up.