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A Muslim Benedict Option Settlement

Trouble in suburban Baltimore: [1]

As Joppatowne area residents continued to express concerns Monday about the potential for a Muslims-only development, a high-ranking Harford County official told them the project will be “treated like any other” when it comes to enforcing code regulations.

That doesn’t mean, however, that the county has any say or authority over who can buy houses in the development, which is known by the names Old Trails or Rivers Run, county Director of Administration Billy Boniface said.

Boniface fielded questions and listened to comments from about 125 people from among the crowd crammed into a room at the Harford County Sheriff’s Office’s Southern Precinct Station in Edgewood for the monthly meeting of the Joppa/Joppatowne Community Advisory Board.

Community angst has been sparked by information posted on the Internet this summer that Rivers Run is being marketed as a community for Muslim families.

More:

Last spring, members of the Silver Spring-based Majlis Ansarullah USA celebrated the groundbreaking of the “Ansar Housing Complex,” according to photos and information the organization posted on the Internet. They have since been removed.

Extensive information about the project is, however, still available on Majlis Ansarullah USA’s website at dev.ansarusa.org/ansar-housing-complex.[Note: the link doesn’t work; here’s the link to the main Ansar USA website [2]. — RD]

The complex is billed as a “mini-peace village” for Ahmadi Muslims, and members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community who are 55 or older would get priority in purchasing houses, according to the Majlis Ansarullah USA website.

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is an “international revival movement within Islam” founded in 1889, according to that community’s website.

Ahmadi Muslims, for the record, are members of a small Islamic sect that has renounced violent jihad [3]. They are liberals within Islam, and hated by orthodox Muslims They’ve been terribly persecuted in their native Pakistan.

Ahmadi Muslims in Canada have already built a “peace village” and have been living there in community for some time:

Based on what information is available, I find what’s being done to the Ahmadis in Maryland very troubling and unfair. There is nothing wrong with these believers wanting to live together, close to their mosque, and in community. Why shouldn’t they be able to? How wonderful would it be for faithful Christians to construct a similar community!
Something similar, but on a much greater scale, has apparently been done by members of a megachurch in Nigeria, [4] reports The Guardian. Excerpts:

The Redeemed Christian Church of God’s international headquarters in Ogun state has been transformed from a mere megachurch to an entire neighbourhood, with departments anticipating its members’ every practical as well as spiritual need.

A 25-megawatt power plant with gas piped in from the Nigerian capital serves the 5,000 private homes on site, 500 of them built by the church’s construction company. New housing estates are springing up every few months where thick palm forests grew just a few years ago. Education is provided, from creche to university level. The Redemption Camp health centre has an emergency unit and a maternity ward.

On Holiness Avenue, a branch of Tantaliser’s fast food chain does a brisk trade. There is an on-site post office, a supermarket, a dozen banks, furniture makers and mechanics’ workshops. An aerodrome and a polytechnic are in the works.

More:

“If you wait for the government, it won’t get done,” says Olubiyi. So the camp relies on the government for very little – it builds its own roads, collects its own rubbish, and organises its own sewerage systems. And being well out of Lagos, like the other megachurches’ camps, means that it has little to do with municipal authorities. Government officials can check that the church is complying with regulations, but they are expected to report to the camp’s relevant office. Sometimes, according to the head of the power plant, the government sends the technicians running its own stations to learn from them.

There is a police station on site, which occasionally deals with a death or the disappearance of a child, but the camp’s security is mostly provided by its small army of private guards in blue uniforms.

And:

For years, people have owned houses here to stay over after conventions and the monthly services. But increasingly, families like the Oliatans find themselves wanting to live full-time with people who share their values, in a place run by people they feel they can trust. “We feel we’re living in God’s presence all the time. A few days ago, Daddy GO took a prayer walk around here,” Oliatan says.

While you have to be a Christian and a church member to buy and live on site, there is no such requirement for doing business. The FCMB bank is one such business that has set up shop here, with bright white mock-Corinthian columns installed just behind the auditorium.

Read the whole thing. [4]The megachurch’s pastor is very much not my cup of tea, but that’s not the point. The point is that members of this church have built an intentional community for themselves, so they can live a more religiously observant and religiously infused life together. How is this bad, in principle?

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50 Comments To "A Muslim Benedict Option Settlement"

#1 Comment By jasper On September 13, 2017 @ 11:25 am

Doesn’t seem that different from the families that settled in the area surrounding Clear Creek Abbey.

jasper

#2 Comment By mdc On September 13, 2017 @ 11:25 am

“Living together” takes effort and dedication, and may be praiseworthy.

“Not living with others” takes power and coercion.

“you have to be a Christian and a church member to buy and live on site…” I wonder how this is enforced.

#3 Comment By Eliana On September 13, 2017 @ 11:32 am

The suburban Baltimoreans who are protesting the establishment of this retirement community really know not what they do.

It happens that I live geographically between a lively residential community established over 100 years ago for retired Christian missionaries and an Ahmadiyya mosque.

I’ve hung out at both places. They’re both great places with excellent people who are steadfastly trying to do good in the chaos of the world.

These Baltimore area protestors seem to be adding to the chaos of the world.

I’ve also hung out at local Suni and Shiiite Muslim institutions with a lot of great people in those places, who are also steadfastly trying to do good.

And I’ve hung out at Catholic and Orthodox Christian and various kinds of Protestant places as well as Jewish places and also with various other kinds of religious communities.

There are so many people, so many communities trying to do good things in a chaotic world.

Protesting suburban Baltimoreans, please reject chaos and ignorance.

#4 Comment By Kevin W. On September 13, 2017 @ 11:32 am

I am a firm supporter of the Benedict Option and we are looking for the best opportunities to raise our kids surrounded by a “cloud of witnesses” that will inculcate the faith. That said, in a country with a long history of exclusive neighborhoods, be it by code or culture, barring new immigrants, African Americans, Jews, or whoever, this smells a little bad to me. How can we encourage unique subculture development while still being a community rooted as Americans who are working together on a civic project?

#5 Comment By oakinhouston On September 13, 2017 @ 11:32 am

The Ansar Housing doesn’t seem to be much different to Ave Maria in FL, which has been greeted mostly by indifference, some silly screeches from the left notwithstanding

#6 Comment By James Hartwick On September 13, 2017 @ 11:37 am

(1) I’m sure others will make the parallel with the Mormons. Didn’t something like this happen in Missouri and Nauvoo, Illinois? Essentially the local residents disliking that Mormons acted as a bloc when it came to local issues (housing, education, etc.)?

(2) America makes this commitment of freedom to everyone within the USA. So I think it will be difficult to say “no” to the Ahmadis, and I have to admit I agree that they should have the freedoms that all other Americans do. However, this also means that we should be very careful about immigration. The bigger the commitment we make to immigrants, the more careful we should be about who immigrates. And our commitment to respecting immigrants’ freedom of religion and freedom of association is a big one.

#7 Comment By Lamont McCullers On September 13, 2017 @ 11:40 am

1st Thessalonians 4:11

#8 Comment By charles cosimano On September 13, 2017 @ 11:43 am

You already know what is wrong with it. Religious discrimination, that sort of thing. Of course they do have one small advantage. It would be hard to find a legal tester because no one would want to live there but Muslims.

#9 Comment By collin On September 13, 2017 @ 11:59 am

Isn’t this sort of true with Dearborn Michigan? And wasn’t one of the reasons Bernie Sanders beat HRC in the primary was the Muslim populations went heavily Sanders which gave him the surprise victory? And doesn’t the loudest whines against creeping Sharia Law often site Michigan? And there was even had the reality show All-American Muslim years ago which tried to every day problems of the community such as the wife worried about the Mother-in-Law coming to dinner.

And the show was canceled because of low rating although there were sponsorship controversies that simplified the network’s decision.

#10 Comment By Marshall MacDougall On September 13, 2017 @ 12:00 pm

On a somewhat larger scale, we had something fairly similar in the West. It was called a “country”.

I’ve heard mixed reviews.

#11 Comment By Hector_St_Clare On September 13, 2017 @ 12:01 pm

Ahmadiyas aren’t persecuted because they’re “liberal muslims”, they’re persecuted because orthodox Muslims consider them to have heretical views about the indetity of the Mahdi and other things.

In general I think it’s unproductive to classify all religious groups as “liberal”, “conservative”, etc.. Religions are essentially about making truth claims regarding the supernatural and the metaphysical, and it’s on those grounds that one should consider them, not how well they fit into the ideological preoccupations of 21st century American society.

#12 Comment By C. L. H. Daniels On September 13, 2017 @ 12:04 pm

Actually, it’s pretty cool. It would be nice to live in a place with such a high degree of communal solidarity, no matter its source. The description of the Nigerian church community actually reminds me of things I’ve read about what the LDS do in Utah, where their social services are run on a governmental scale.

#13 Comment By minimammal On September 13, 2017 @ 12:08 pm

I disagree with your sentiment that what the Ahmadis are going through is “unfair”. Islam requires more scrutiny than other religions (I’m surprised that the community advisory board is actually allowing this “Islamophobic” scrutiny), even the supposedly liberal Ahmadis. Perhaps, the Ahmadis are truly harmless and we have nothing to worry about in giving them their own exclusive community, but this will only establish a precedent that other more fundamentalist Muslims can then exploit. Once these fundamentalists have their own exclusive communities, they’ll demand more concessions and preferential treatment (it’s already happening in Europe). It’s like the old adage, if you give them an inch, they’ll take a mile.

“How is this bad, in principle?” you ask? I can’t say anything about Nigeria. It’s not my country, and they have a way more inept and corrupt government than the US which likely makes an autonomous, exclusive community like that of the megachurch a wise endeavor. However, here in the US, I don’t like the idea of people closing themselves off from their supposed fellow citizens and cocooning themselves within their own tribal group. In my opinion, such a strategy is merely an outgrowth of the toxic multiculturalism and identity politics that have overrun our society.

People are already walling themselves off mentally by placing themselves within various racial, sexual, and gender categories for the benefit of privileged victim status. It would be devastating to what remains of the body politic of this country if people started to segregate themselves on a large scale based on various tribal affiliations and “values”. I know you, Rod, think this would be a good thing for Christians to do, but I see this happening throughout the whole country in regards to more than just religion.

Of course, segregation is nothing new in this country, but what makes the US unique is that people of all races and creeds have come here and, for the most part, lived peaceably side by side and assimilated into the broader culture, each new arrival offering something new to the greater whole. At least, that’s how it used to be.

Now, with multiculturalism and identity politics as the reigning ideologies, assimilation is viewed as forcing “whiteness” onto non-white people and there is no longer a united, cohesive conception of what it means to be an American and any attempt to argue for one is viewed as racist, etc. There is increasingly little unity or trust or sense of camraderie among American citizens because we aren’t Americans anymore but hyphenated Americans whose allegiance only extends to those within my own tribe or, perhaps, to intersectional allies in the fight to topple the racist, sexist hegemony that is America. We no longer believe in the goodness (or, at the very least, the relative “betterness”) of America and its democratic institutions and Enlightenment principles. Everything is unraveling but I refuse to cheer on the intentional Balkanization of people who value their tribe more than their nation or whose sense of community ends at those who think and/or look like them.

Perhaps, it’s foolish of me, but I still have a lingering shred of patriotism and, however flawed the US might be and whatever direction it’s headed in, I still believe in and cherish the ideals upon which this country was founded and will do my part to uphold them in the way that they were once, in a bygone era, however idealized that may be.

#14 Comment By Sam M On September 13, 2017 @ 12:16 pm

I would strongly suspect that such a program wold run afoul of fair housing laws, no? Depending how it’s structured, how is a “Muslims only” clause in a mortgage arrangement any different than “blacks need not apply”? Unless somehow the properties are communally owned, by a religious organization, and the people have to join the religion to be part of the housing project.

On the other hand, age discrimination is illegal, right? And there are 55 and older retirement communities. Maybe there are not lots of young people clamoring to get it.

Either way, if I were to open up a “Christians Only” neighborhood in a city with tons of Somali refugees, can you imagine the uproar?

Me? I think freedom of association should allow this sort of thing. But US Civil Rights law makes them pretty dubious.

And that anything limited to whites/straights/Christians would get way more scrutiny than anything set aside for minorities/gays/Muslims.

A while back I saw something for a “gays only” bed and breakfast. it seemed to be operating unchallenged. But you can bet a million dollars that a straights only B and B would be in court within hours.

#15 Comment By pitchfork On September 13, 2017 @ 12:18 pm

“The point is that members of this church have built an intentional community for themselves, so they can live a more religiously observant and religiously infused life together. How is this bad, in principle?”

There’s a lot riding on what principles we’re talking about. I don’t have a good answer and I’m not sure there is one.

We live in a liberal democracy and our very way of thinking is shaped by it. Thus, we reflexively seek out rules-based solutions to these kinds of situations, rules that ostensibly treat everyone equally as individuals.

But I’m not sure that always works for situations like this. Hardly anyone gets worked up about the Amish, but one can easily imagine a more radical Muslim sect, for instance, setting up their own enclave along these lines. Would that be tolerable?

And how tolerant will our secular elites be, in 10 or 20 years’ time, towards orthodox Christians who want to set up intentional communities?

#16 Comment By Liam On September 13, 2017 @ 12:21 pm

Because Muslims.

People in a town in Massachusetts spent a lot of effort trying to prevent an Islamic burial ground in the past couple of years. Lots of rationalizations.

#17 Comment By EngineerScotty On September 13, 2017 @ 12:29 pm

Obviously, locals trying to interfere with this via the building code, or anything else, is unacceptable.

However, depending on how this is structured, this likely runs afoul of the Fair Housing Act and related legislation, for the same reason that an all-Jewish neighborhood, or an all-white neighborhood, or an all-Latino neighborhood would. If individual parcels are being marketed for sale, any deed restriction (or other artifice) that limits resale to Muslims (or to any other group) is null and void; full stop. Likewise, no deed restriction may be used to enforce church (or mosque) discipline of any sort. And, a builder marketing a development as a “Muslim community”, even if there are no legal restrictions, also runs afoul of the law.

There are, however, ways around this, for any group that wants to build an “intentional community”.

* Individual owners may refuse to sell to anyone they choose, however, discriminatory advertising is prohibited, and they may not use a real estate agent (Realtors are prohibited to participate in any such transaction; and if a Realtor presents a cash offer for the listing price to a seller and the seller refuses, the Realtor is then entitled to a commission and may sue the seller even if there is no sale).

* There are several exceptions for private clubs, religious organizations, etc. For these to apply, the housing would have to be rented and not sold, and made available only to “members”, not to the general public. (Whether members of a church or mosque would be considered the “general public” is an interesting question, or a tighter definition of membership is required than observance of a particular faith or attendance at a particular house of worship).

* Nothing in the Fair Housing Act requires that housing be marketed in any specific forum or language. In the present case, the developers could refuse to market the property in English, and instead only promote it in foreign-language media (including social media); or through bulletins posted or distributed at mosques, or through other channels unlikely to be noticed by the public at large.

* Regardless of form, intentional communities of this sort cannot be marketed using the real estate profession, including RMLS, Zillow, or any other public listing service. Realtors and listing services do not receive any exceptions to the Fair Housing Act, and properties listed for sale or rental using these means must be made available to anyone on equal terms.

* Finally, note that while the FHA does make some exceptions for religious communities; it does NOT make similar exceptions for race, gender, or sexual orientation.

Note. The above is an attempt to summarize what the law is, not what I think it should be. In general, I agree with much of it, though I quibble with some details.

That said, it is fair to mention one other important exemption included within the FHA: senior housing.

The FHA generally prohibits discrimination based on age or family status (having children or a desire to do so; or against cohabitating couples or other such arrangements). But the Act explicitly allows “old folks homes” and other planned communities intended exclusively for senior citizens, which may ban children from the premises. This includes both things like “retirement homes” (rental apartments catering to seniors), “retirement communities” (housing developments catering to seniors); the provision of geriatric medical services and the like is not required to get this exception.

In other words, intentional communities for the elderly.

Now while this is discriminatory, this is also fair–excepting those that die early, everyone will become an old person some day; just like all of us were once wearing diapers and nursing at the breast or bottle. OTOH, when I was growing up, I remember the presence of many “adult communities” in my town, apartment/condo complexes that barred children, and catered to the desires of singles and couples; such things are now illegal.

#18 Comment By Mohammad On September 13, 2017 @ 12:29 pm

Nothing bad in principle or in fact! It is the way humans managed their affairs for thousands of years! In my hometown of Isfahan, until some 50 years ago, many Christian Armenians could not speak Persian well, and they had been living in Isfahan for some 400 years. There were also isolated Jewish communities, isolated LOR community (same religion and ethnicity as the majority, only different language or rather different dialect!) within Isfahan.

#19 Comment By JohnE_o On September 13, 2017 @ 12:33 pm

Am surprised that you didn’t mention Ave Maria, Florida…

Planned communities aren’t really my thing, but more power to all of them…let a thousand flowers bloom, etc.

#20 Comment By Hal On September 13, 2017 @ 12:37 pm

I lived in Baltimore for a few years; I’m not particularly familiar with the specific area where this community is being built, but that entire region has a major real estate problem. Housing is very expensive and in high demand. Most jobs are going to be by the population centers (Rockville, Bethesda, Baltimore, DC) but homes remain expensive outside those enclaves because it’s such a commuter-heavy region. It’s not unheard of for people to drive 1-2 hours to their jobs.

I can’t quite tell from the article if the issue is primarily religious, but it wouldn’t surprise me at all if exclusivity and affordability were both rearing their heads here. (And, of course, it’s about the schools. If you can afford to, you do whatever you can not to go to city schools. I know a lot of parents live in the city and still send their kids to county schools, not quite legally.)

If you really want to see a “Benedict Option” style community in Baltimore, look to the Orthodox Jewish community there. They’ve built an amazing life centered around access to the synagogues, and it’s not hard to understand why; if you have to live within walking distance, your world builds around the synagogue, rather than home or work.

[NFR: That’s true. I wrote about a Catholic community like this in Hyattsville, MD. — RD]

#21 Comment By JonF On September 13, 2017 @ 12:40 pm

I have not seen one word about this in the Baltimore Sun, my source for local stuff. Nor seen anything by Harford County friends posting on Facebook. This really seems under the radar here.

#22 Comment By Jack B. Nimble On September 13, 2017 @ 12:46 pm

I think I agree with Mr. Dreher about the “mini-peace village” for Ahmadi Muslims, at least up to a point.

Just as retirement or vacation communities can be marketed to avid golfers, or to observant Jews in Florida, etc., so a Muslim-themed community would be just more of the same.

If non-Muslims are barred by covenants and the like, that is a much more serious problem. US courts are already giving away too many religious-based carve-outs from US Civil Rights and Fair Housing laws, and we don’t need any more of that. What would be next, covenants or ordinances preventing atheists from owning property? What does THAT remind you of.

#23 Comment By JZ On September 13, 2017 @ 12:58 pm

I suspect progressives are torn here. They probably have no problem with these Muslims living as they desire, but they recognize the danger of the precedent. It would be really, really interesting to get opinion poll data across the ideological spectrum on something like this.

#24 Comment By Alex Curbelo On September 13, 2017 @ 1:00 pm

Well, Muslims have been aggressively immigrating to the United States. Muslim “refugees” with their alien ways and often backwards traditions are being forcibly added to tranquil rural and conservative communities all over the country. It appears Muslims now demanding exclusive communities. When is enough enough? Immigration from the Third World has ruined enough nice places here as it is.

Muslims should not be able to form “Muslims only” communities without being subjected to the same highly aggressive censure, moral disapproval, legal assaults and economic and employment blackmail that white Americans and probably also “orthodox Christians” (to use Mr. Dreher’s coining) would experience if they tried the same thing.

So why shouldn’t white Americans, or, for that matter, generic red state Americans who are mostly but not necessarily white, be able to do this to get some space for their cultural preferences without consequences or hysterical moral judgment?

The counter point that “religion and culture are not the same as race” is true but irrelevant for this issue. The issue here is freedom of association not the basis for forming the community. It is not moral or fair to take a position that forming exclusive communities for whatever reason is OK for some groups but not for others.

Exclusive communities is not a bad idea in principle, but the application should be fair.

#25 Comment By M1798 On September 13, 2017 @ 1:03 pm

In a perfect world I would have no problem with this. But, religious freedom will continue to suffer in the US unless the groups favored by the left are explicitly denied freedom of association with the same rigidity as Christians. why would they care to change discrimination law if it only is applicable to people they hate?

#26 Comment By Razib Khan On September 13, 2017 @ 1:30 pm

to be clear most mainstream muslims do not consider ahmadis muslims at all.

#27 Comment By bkh On September 13, 2017 @ 1:52 pm

While the megachurch has a good idea, the culture in which they live is likely much different than America. I have found African and some Asian-based groups to be more group oriented than Americans would be. It is hard enough to find a church with 50 members that gets along, let alone the amount it would take to run a small community like what is being presented. Interesting example, though.

#28 Comment By Wes On September 13, 2017 @ 2:06 pm

What could go wrong with Islamic enclaves!

#29 Comment By Kirt Higdon On September 13, 2017 @ 2:51 pm

Is it legal to discriminate by religion in the sale of houses? If not, how could any religious group be certain that such an “intentional” community would remain exclusive? I don’t think that Moslems consider the Ahmadis to be actual Moslems since they believe in a prophet after Mohammed. It’s sort of like the Bahais, who are persecuted in Iran. I worked with an Ahmadi who was a very nice and intelligent guy. He fled persecution in Pakistan and made a successful life for himself in the US.

#30 Comment By Matt Jamison On September 13, 2017 @ 2:58 pm

There’s a basic conflict between the right of members of a religious community to live together and the Fair Housing Act that specifically prohibits housing discrimination by religion. My fear is that politically-correct politicians will prosecute conservative Christians seeking to designate a housing development and not others.

Currently, there are a couple of Muslim-only housing developments near the East Plano Islamic Center near where I live in Texas. No one seems to be protesting or prosecuting them. I know of no similar Christian communities.

#31 Comment By Anon On September 13, 2017 @ 3:15 pm

It’s worth considering that there has been a certain amount of pushback against Orthodox Jewish communities that try to have things like their own school district.

If anyone is interested, they could look into the Kryias Joel. I believe there is a noted court case invovling this group.

#32 Comment By TheFirebird On September 13, 2017 @ 3:27 pm

It is hard to find a more inoffensive, benign group of people than Ahmadis, and I say that as someone with extensive experience working and living in a country where they are discriminated against structurally and socially. Other comments here are right on– they are not considered to be “Muslims” at all by virtually any mainstream Shia or Sunni school of Islamic thought and jurisprudence, it is one thing that they all agree on. An imperfect parallel might be the Mormon Church as viewed by most orthodox Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant groups.

There is a real security concern, and that is that communities like this will become targets for certain radicalized Sunnis. They are targets in their countries of origin and such sectarian violence has already begun creeping into the West.

#33 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On September 13, 2017 @ 3:37 pm

I suppose its a matter of “all things in moderation…” If we all crawl into little enclaves, we will all be the worse for it. But, it is particularly true of religion AS religion (not as an identifying characteristic of ethnicity) that it can be difficult to carry out ritual obligations in a community that doesn’t honor them. Muslims have a much easier time praying five times a day if the whole city does the same, although lunch cart vendors in New York manage to hold up the line for a few minutes, get out their prayer rug, do what they have to do, and get back to business.

What would you say if a group of southern evangelicals insisted they had a constitutional right to take a horse drawn cart vending barbecued pork through this Muslim settlement?

I’m not really sure where the constitutional lines would fall on this one.

OF course its a different question than confining X demographic to the older, seedier, more run-down, parts of town, and reserving all the better, newer, neighborhoods for Y demographic, which in turn has the better sanitation services.

#34 Comment By Polichinello On September 13, 2017 @ 3:43 pm

What’s Ahmadi you?

Sorry. Couldn’t resist.

The Ahmadis make a short appearance in V.S. Naipaul’s Among the Believers. They are not considered Muslim, much as Mormons’ Christianity is questionable to the orthodox mainstream.

#35 Comment By Deacon Nicholas On September 13, 2017 @ 3:43 pm

The Ahmadis are the most Christian of all groups calling themselves Muslim. Despite horrific persecutions, they remain people of peace.

#36 Comment By Philly guy On September 13, 2017 @ 4:49 pm

The desire of people to self ghettoize themselves is fascinating.

#37 Comment By Alex On September 13, 2017 @ 5:04 pm

I would strongly suspect that such a program wold run afoul of fair housing laws, no? Depending how it’s structured, how is a “Muslims only” clause in a mortgage arrangement any different than “blacks need not apply”?

A “Mulsims only” clause would almost certainly violate fair housing laws, although individual homeowners are generally free to sell (or not sell) to whomever they want.

The way the Canadian Ahmadi community did it was by overpricing the houses – generally they cost about 10% more that a equally-sized house in the same town. Thus, pretty much the only people who bought into that community are the ones who want to live in an Ahmadi community badly enough to pay the 10% premium.

Also, they advertise available homes only by word of mouth and don’t use a commercial real estate agent, so they don’t even show up in an MLS search for available homes for sale.

#38 Comment By Anne On September 13, 2017 @ 5:11 pm

A Benedict Option for residents who are 55 and older? I think they normally call this a “senior community.” They’re everywhere. Many are sponsored by Christian denominations. Many are Jewish;they call it Florida (J/K). I can see no reason for this one causing a ruckus other than the fact that these residents would be Muslim, and there are so many Americans these days who figure wherever two or three Muslims gather together, jihad just happens. Sigh.

#39 Comment By peanut On September 13, 2017 @ 6:19 pm

“But, religious freedom will continue to suffer in the US unless the groups favored by the left are explicitly denied freedom of association with the same rigidity as Christians. why would they care to change discrimination law if it only is applicable to people they hate”

Except that as numerous examples on this thread indicate, orthodox communities organized on this model exist all across the country. It’s almost as though some people need fervent persecution fantasies to give their life meaning.

#40 Comment By M_Young On September 13, 2017 @ 6:42 pm

“Doesn’t seem that different from the families that settled in the area surrounding Clear Creek Abbey.

jasper”

Except that significant numbers of Muslims are an entirely new situation in this country, while Xians (at least cultural ones) founded it.

#41 Comment By kijunshi On September 13, 2017 @ 7:24 pm

Commentators above have covered my qualms above, but to reiterate:

1) To deny people the right to live in a neighborhood due to ethnic or religious concerns is redlining. Ask some black people their opinion on how that worked out for them.

2) This is an actual security risk for the people wanting to live there – it’s hard to exaggerate the rabid hatred of this sect by other Islamic sects. If it’s built, it’s only a matter of time before ISIS sends a guy in a truck.

3) When the situation gets to level of the church in Lagos, things can easily get political… by which I mean, questions of government and rulership. All that’s needed is for the pastor to call an army together and well, what do you know, the rulership of Lagos itself might well be in play. (And how will the Muslims/other Christian sects fare on that fine day?) If Lagos/Nigeria were more stable, I strongly suspect this church’s arrangements would not be tolerated.

3b) It doesn’t need to be at the level of Lagos to cause social problems – I have friends who moved away from a small Californian town when a local megachurch “took over,” for lack of a better word. Church members in elected government, steep discounts in every business for church members ONLY, church members controlling how public dollars were spent and making things very… uncomfortable… for anyone who wasn’t a member. My friends had nothing good to say about the experience. Is that what the Benedict Option will look like? Is that really utopia??

4) I dislike the vision of an America where everyone sits comfortably in their own little pod, divorced as much as possible from the experiences of their neighbors. Our current situation is bad enough with this, why encourage it? If anything we need more institutions that reach across gaps, instead of laws that encourage them.

In summary, although I wish this group of Muslims no harm, I think that we cannot bend the laws in any way to accommodate them. They will have to have their exclusive community by ducking and weaving around them as best as possible. Many other communities have found a way to do this, so I’m sure they will find a way to do the same.

#42 Comment By just a prof On September 13, 2017 @ 8:45 pm

All they want is dialogue.

#43 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On September 13, 2017 @ 9:01 pm

steep discounts in every business for church members ONLY

That, at least, customers who are not church members could sue about — discrimination in commerce on the basis of religious affiliation.

As for domination of local government… there was a village in Oregon taken over that way by followers of an Indian fake guru some decades back. As I recall the experiment collapsed.

A Benedict Option for residents who are 55 and older? I think they normally call this a “senior community.”

Yes, that is a form of discrimination (and it IS discrimination) explicitly allowed for in open housing statutes.

#44 Comment By William Dalton On September 13, 2017 @ 10:21 pm

Christians in America should support Muslims (and other religious minorities) in these efforts, and hope they will support us in ours. As the years pass, Christians will become less and less “at home” in American society and will find it increasingly necessary to carve out communities of our own.

#45 Comment By Khalid Mir On September 13, 2017 @ 11:34 pm

How is this bad, in principle?

I don’t know but in practice I think it can often be quite bad. There are, I think, two countries that are founded on the idea that people from the same religion should band together-I live in one of them. I don’t want to talk about the reasons for them coming about, the merits, the justifications -too much water has flowed under the bridge-but I think one has to recognize that something has been lost in the narrowing down.

Lahore is not the same place without Hindus, Sikhs, and Parsis. Many Ahmadis have left as well.

In nature there is so much diversity! Tauheed (a central idea in Islam) means, I think, unity-in-diversity.

Also, politically, there can be no public or common world without different perspectives (as Arendt wisely says).

Ahmadis do have their own little enclave in Pakistan-and I can fully understand that given the terrible persecution they face (my best friend is an Ahmadi). But in America?

A man met an old sufi ina foreign country and was shocked to see him wearing the clothes of his adopted country rather than the traditional sufi garb. Seeing his surprise the sufi unbuttoned his jacket to reveal his chequered sufi waistcoat underneath. Do we always have to wear our heart on our sleeve?

#46 Comment By Polichinello On September 14, 2017 @ 9:27 am

As for domination of local government… there was a village in Oregon taken over that way by followers of an Indian fake guru some decades back. As I recall the experiment collapsed.

Antelope, Oregon. The results were pretty awful, including a dispute with Islamic fundies and a hotel bombing, according to Wiki.

#47 Comment By March Hare On September 14, 2017 @ 9:34 am

This sounds fine, in principle, and probably in practice also. There’s an Ahmadi mosque a few miles west of here (upstate NY), and I’ve noted no problems at all. We also have a small, but growing Amish community a few miles beyond that, and I don’t see problems there, either. Mostly, they want to be left alone, and so do I.

But it isn’t all roses as these communities grow. Kiryas Joel, a settlement of Hasidic Jews in the Hudson Valley, has not exactly been in total harmony with their neighbors, and has sought special treatment from the state on numerous occasions.

#48 Comment By Bowl of Petunias On September 14, 2017 @ 10:56 am

As long as the Ahmadis really are what they claim to be, and haven’t been infiltrated by ISIS, I don’t have a problem with this housing development.

#49 Comment By Northern Observer On September 15, 2017 @ 11:02 am

Know your enemy. We are long past the time where Americans should know tthe difference between a Sikh and a Muslim, an Ahmadi and a Salafi. The fate of humanity rests on intelligent decisions in regards to Islam. If we can’t divide the wheat from the chafe then how will we eat?

#50 Comment By Daniel (not Larrison) On September 16, 2017 @ 12:13 pm

The comments about an Ahmadi community being a magnet for terorism are, in a word, disgusting. It’s naked victim blaming. “We aren’t going to let you hace your community because we care about your safety.” That makes bigots the ones in control, that our fears should overrule our desires.

Now, there are legitimate concerns about fair housing issues and discrimination. But fear that it will be attacked? Ok, let’s shut down black churches, Synagogues, gay bars, and any other place where any group that might be hated gather.