- The Township of Bridgewater
Support alFalah Center - Protect freedom of religion!
The Muslim community in and around Bridgewater Township, in Central NJ, has never had its own house of worship - and now our proposed Islamic Center needs your help! We recently submitted an application to build alFalah Islamic Center, here in Bridgewater. But our local government has just voted unanimously to change the zoning laws in a way that would block our house of worship. Furthermore, the new zoning laws are being fast-tracked, ahead of NJ statute to take effect May 5th that would completely prohibit such changes on already-submitted applications, like ours, which conform to existing laws.
Bridgewater has very limited real estate options for building a mosque - we've been looking for a site for years, and even in surrounding towns as well. These efforts to change the laws mid-way present a huge roadblock to our ability to have a house of worship.
This is not only unjust, it violates Federal law which states: "No government shall impose or implement a land use regulation in a manner that imposes a substantial burden on the religious exercise of a person, including a religious assembly or institution."
Like the many minority communities subject to these type of campaigns, we hoped to work through our neighbors' concerns, with dialogue and negotiation. We have even revised our application, to completely set aside our plans for a full-time religious school - in the spirit of compromise, to reach out to the neighbors. We've completed traffic studies, consulted the Planning Board engineer, traffic consultant, and fire official, and agreed to every requested accomodation.
Join us in saying to the Mayor: "Work with us, don't legislate against us!"
Together we intend to find a just and equitable solution. We continue our efforts to address the concerns of our neighbors, yet protect our moral and constitutional right to a house of worship. Meanwhile we look to our allies in the wider community to stand with us to support freedom of religion, and join voices together in solidarity.
- The Township of Bridgewater
I am joining my voice to those who urge you to support alFalah Center and protect the freedom of worship for all our citizens. I do not support these actions by the Planning Board and Town Council, that will effectively block the ability of Bridgewater's Muslim community to establish a house of worship.
Changing zoning laws in a way that will exclude a religious minority is not only unjust, it violates federal laws which state "No government shall impose or implement a land use regulation in a manner that imposes a substantial burden on the religious exercise of a person, including a religious assembly or institution."
Nor is it right to fast-track a change in laws, on an already-submitted conforming application, to avoid the statute taking effect on May 5th that would completely prohibit such actions. The timing and nature of these rushed changes will unjustly impact the application of a permitted religious institution - one which adheres to the existing zoning laws in every way. This is neither good governance, nor does it show good faith towards Bridgewater's own citizens.
The members of alFalah Center are an integral part of the community, peaceful and upstanding. They are making every effort to work together with the Township on this project and accomodate concerns of the neighborhood. We rely on you, our elected officials, to support their efforts toward a house of worship in every way you can. We look forward to working with you to find a solution that is fair and balanced. We call on you to seek a resolution that not only addresses the neighbors' concerns regarding this application which already conforms to every law - but also protects the constitutional rights of a religious assembly.
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