Kennesaw Back in the News, and Not In a Good Way

I went to high school in Cobb County, Georgia, not that far from the small town of Kennesaw. It wasn’t much back then; suburbanization swelled its size and wealth, but not, alas, its wisdom.

In 1982 Kennesaw made national news by passing an ordinance to require gun ownership. The measure wasn’t serious; it was a right-wing gesture aimed at a Chicago suburb where handgun ownership had been banned. Still, the more hard-core elements of the gun lobby like to point to Kennesaw as a fine place to raise your kids up.

I guess that wasn’t enough for the local leadership, though, because now the town has blocked issuance of a license for use of a storefront property as a prayer center by a Muslim group, despite giving a Christian group an identical license just five months ago, per this report from Atlanta TV station WXIA:

The local Islamic group wanting to rent the retail space for their worship center agreed to every limitation that the Kennesaw city attorney wanted to impose, including a two-year only lease, no more than 80 worshipers allowed at a time and no more than 40 parking spaces could be used at a time.

It was just this past July when the City Council approved a request from a Christian church to rent space in a small retail center in Kennesaw for their worship services.

Councilmember Cris Eaton-Welsh made the motion to approve the Muslim’s request to do the same, but the other four members refused, silently, without debate — and without comment afterwards.

Sometimes bigots (or gutless pols) do have the decency not to try to defend their actions. The pastor of the church already operating in the same retail space allowed as how this might be a First Amendment issue (ya think?), but offered this demurral:

“You know, if Christianity were killing people, I’m pretty sure I would have a problem with it,” said Pastor C.S. Clarke of the Redeemed Christian Fellowship Church. “Then I would be concerned with that moving into my neighborhood. But, I’m open, I’m inclusive. Christianity does teach love, inclusiveness, creating a better environment for everyone.”

I believe the reverend could use a history lesson if he thinks there’s a big gap between the record of Islam and Christianity when it comes to “killing people.”

But it seems the citizens who pushed for this decision aren’t into such distinctions:

Outside the City Hall, anti-Muslim protesters held signs such as “Ban Islam.”

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.