Slate‘s Dave Weigel has posted on a very interesting interview that he did with Republican icon and Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist.
In an argument that I had not seen anywhere, Norquist argues that Republicans fought hard to win enhanced legal rights for faith-based organizations when engaged in disputes with local and regional government authorities. And now, he argues, they are undermining one of their most notable accomplishments.
In an interview just now, Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform made a point about the “ground zero mosque” controversy that I hadn’t heard before. One reason that opponents are going to have trouble legally preventing Park51 from building its Muslim cultural center is that, in 2000, a Republican Congress passed the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act.
It’s not that this was a partisan effort. It passed by voice vote in the House and Senate, and was helped through the higher body by Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.). The goal of the legislation, supported by a coalition of religious groups, was to respond to the Supreme Court’s ruling in Employment Division Department of Human Resources v. Smith and give churches, synagogues, mosques and other places of worship more power in disputes with local and municipal authorities.
“This was one of the great victories of the religious right,” said Norquist. “And now some people want to scrap it to make this point?”
In another good posting by Weigel at Slate, Norquist continues:
“Republicans will lose Jewish votes by focusing on a mosque in New York.”
“You’re not just going to lose Muslim votes,” said Norquist, who has long argued that Republicans should win those voters. “You’re going to lose Jewish votes, Indian votes, Buddhist votes. Every member of a minority group looks at a situation like this and says, oh, the people hitting this minority will eventually start hitting me.”