Apparently undeterred by their recent, unsurprising loss at the NH Supreme Court for their attempt to crush the free speech rights of the Robin Hooders for feeding expired parking meters, the City of Keene gang is now trying to crush the right to religion and free assembly.
Will originally made the mistake of trying to ask the city gang’s blessing to install a sign. He should have known that asking for permission to exercise a right never ends well. The answer is almost always no, and fees and hoops galore are demanded by the bureaucrats. Unfortunately, despite telling the city gang that the sign was going up, after consulting with the local Muslims he is serving, they asked him to try to go through the city’s demands for the sign permission slip. So, the sign is not up.However, now that an inch has been given, the city gang is ready to take a mile of obedience, fees, meetings, and paperwork. In a letter addressed to Will by the city’s “Planning Director” Rhett Lamb, Lamb tells Will he’ll need a “change of use” for the building and an “certificate of occupancy” to gather in the structure, neither of which have anything to do with a sign. However, they have everything to do with submitting to a group of strangers who think they have a right to control your life and property.
Will has told me that the local Muslim community may be willing to bend on the sign issue, but not on the right of assembly. No one should ever have to ask permission to exercise their right. A mosque or church is created because we say so, not by asking some officious bureaucrat’s permission. The right to property and to seek happiness is a fundamental right ostensibly protected by the New Hampshire constitution – the very same document the people calling themselves “the City of Keene” supposedly operate underneath. Here’s its Article 2 regarding property:
All men have certain natural, essential, and inherent rights – among which are, the enjoying and defending life and liberty; acquiring, possessing, and protecting, property; and, in a word, of seeking and obtaining happiness.
And its Article 5 regarding freedom of religion:
Despite the thus-far-veiled threats from the city (one bureaucrat, Gary Schneider, tried to act like he didn’t know what would happen if the sign was put up without the permission slip), a group of over a dozen people gathered at the MALIC Center on Thursday where a delicious dinner was served for the volunteers who have been helping clean up and remodel the home which will be opening likely before the end of the year. No “certificate of occupancy” was sought. Just people enjoying each other’s company without asking government permission. Because freedom.
Every individual has a natural and unalienable right to worship God according to the dictates of his own conscience, and reason; and no subject shall be hurt, molested, or restrained, in his peers on, liberty, or estate, for worshiping God in the manner and season most agreeable to the dictates of his own conscience; or for his religious profession, sentiments, or persuasion; provided he doth not disturb the public peace or disturb others in their religious worship.
Does the city gang believe they own the property at 659 Marlboro Road? Are they going to issue fines in the hundreds of dollars-per-day range if people choose on their own volition to gather together in an unpermitted, free mosque? How far are the local Muslims willing to go to protect their basic religious liberties from these threats? Will cannot make the decision on his own to roll over and obey or to stand up against the government aggressors. As imam, he has to consider the opinions of the Muslim community first over his own. Stay tuned here to Free Keene for the latest on this developing situation.