An interfaith coalition founded by the Anti-Defamation League filed an amicus brief on behalf of a Muslim congregation in Bridgewater.
The brief by the Interfaith Coalition on Mosques (ICOM) asserts that the township acted unlawfully when it passed an ordinance “specifically to prevent” the Al Falah Center from establishing a mosque at the Redwood Inn.
Passed in March 2011 after a series of public meetings marked by anti-Muslim sentiment, Ordinance 11-03 restricts houses of worship to residential zones serviced by specified public roads, none of which services the Redwood Inn.
Al Falah Center v. Township of Bridgewater contends that the township’s conduct violates a federal religious freedom statute which applies a strict standard to challenging land-use requests by houses of worship.
“The town’s discriminatory actions in this case represent an unjustifiable denial of the congregation’s right to worship freely,” said Deborah M. Lauter, ADL Civil Rights Director and an ICOM spokeswoman. “The court should affirm America’s well-settled and robust history of religious liberty and acceptance as its guiding principle by upholding the lower court decision in favor of the congregation.”
ICOM was formed by the Anti-Defamation League in 2010 to assist Muslim communities confronting opposition to the legal building, expansion, or relocation of their mosques. Its members include Christian, Jews, and Muslims.
It filed the amicus brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit.
In Oct. 2013, a Federal District judge ruled that Bridgewater Township could not enforce Ordinance 11-03. The township is appealing that ruling.