A block away from the town council of Kennesaw, Georgia is a Civil War memorabilia shop named Wild Man's. For years, Kennesaw has tried to get the shop to move, arguing that hate and white supremacy have no place near the city council. But this week, the council—which is most famous nationally for passing a law in 1982 requiring the head of every household to own a firearm (it was rendered unenforceable)— came to a decision that would likely make Wild Man himself proud.
A group of local Muslims have been trying to open a small worship center at a local retail center. They agreed to a wide variety of limitations the council asked for, including restrictions allowing only a two-year lease, no more than 80 worshipers at a time and only 40 parking spaces.
Despite all these concessions, the council refused to allow a vote on the measure, with one council member moving to approve it but the other four silently refusing to second it. When the council finally voted, the four who silently refused to allow the vote all voted against it.
The city's mayor, Mark Mathews, claims the city has never approved of zoning for storefront worship—meaning allowing any place of worship in a retail center. But just this past July, the council did just that, approving a 4,000-square-foot space for a church.
The vote likely had more to do with the hate the council was facing from outside. These demonstrators weren't concerned about traffic or zoning, which the council members cited in opposition. “I think that the terrorist organizations fund Islam and that they’re not peaceful and even the moderates eventually become violent,” said protester Tammy Pacheco. Other protesters outside the council carried signs adorned with the phrase “BAN ISLAM!”
Some of the protesters even made it into hearings over the issue. The congregants seeking to rent the space for the mosque faced all sorts of offensive questioning, from whether they would engage in violent rituals to whether it would indoctrinate people in Sharia law.
“We have heard so many bad things about the Islamic religion, about Shariah law and you see it on TV, and we’re scared of you. I’ll tell you I’m scared to death of you,” said Ann Pratt, who has lived in Kennesaw for 31 years.
The local Muslim group's attorney, Doug Dillard, is advising them to file a federal lawsuit, which was how mosques in other parts of Georgia successfully fought bans. A lawsuit would go above the heads of the Kennesaw City Council, and avoid its politics.
The same week the Kennesaw council voted down the mosque, one of its members, Leanord Church, faced charges of child molestation from the Cobb district attorney.
It appears a town so dedicated to the Second Amendment that it passed the mandatory gun ownership law still needs a lesson on the amendment that precedes it.