June 2021 Church & State Magazine | AU Bulletin

Officials in the city of Horn Lake, Miss., are facing a possible lawsuit after voting 5-1 to block construction of a mosque in the community.

A man who lives in the area, Ray Elk, first proposed building the mosque in 2019. At the time, local officials were supportive, but they have since changed their minds, Elk told Fox13 News in Memphis.

Some residents of the town have expressed opposition to the mosque, saying it will generate noise by broadcasting prayers. But Elk said there is no plan to use a loudspeaker to issue a call to prayer.

Some local lawmakers have made anti-Islamic comments.

“It’s dangerous for people to be driving up and down that road listing to noise seven days a week when other people go to church one day a week and are quiet, saying their prayers and are quiet,” Alderman John Jones Jr. told the Memphis Commercial Appeal. “I don’t care what they say. Their religion says they can lie or do anything to the Jews or gentiles because we’re not Muslims.”

About 15 Muslim families live in the area. Elk has proposed building a 10,000-square-foot worship center that could hold 156 people. The structure would have 44 parking spaces.

A 2000 federal law, the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, offers protections against discrimination to houses of worship in zoning disputes.