The Raving Theist

Dedicated to Jesus Christ, Now and Forever


March 13, 2006 | 7 Comments

The state can’t delegate veto power over a bar to a church, said the Supreme Court in 1982. However, a zoning law may permissibly impose a blanket ban on liquor outlets within a reasonable prescribed distance from a church, school or hospital, or permit for hearings at which such institutions may voice objections to bar on the grounds of noise and other nuisance. New York, for its part, has elected to bar bars within 200 feet “of a school, church, synagogue or other place of worship. . . .” Professor Friedman notes that the law is now facing a strange kind of test:

The Tribeca Trib this week reported that the New York State Liquor Authority has denied a license to one bar, and is threatening to close three others, because they are within 200 feet of Masjid al-Farah, a Sufi mosque. The problem, however, is that none of the bar owners knew that the mosque was there. Indeed some of the bars had been operating over 10 years without realizing the problem. The mosque’s nondescript building has no signage on it indicating that it is a mosque. Moreover, mosque officials have no objection to the bars. The Liquor Authority asserted the violations of law after other neighbors objected to the noise and over-concentration of bars in the neighborhood. One bar owner has suggested a legal loophole — he argues that Sufism is “more a philosophy” than a religion.

There do seem to be quite a few Sufi sites out there which insist that Sufism is not a religion (see here, here, and here, for example) . My guess is that it’s less religious than a Kosher deli but more religious than a yoga center. The mosque in question, however, has vowed to remain neutral in the dispute, so the parties may have to figure it out for themselves.

Which would be ridiculous. Ordinarily the inquiry into whether something is a religious revolves around what its members actually believe and whether they are sincere about it. But now the state is going to get to define a religion in a vacuum, at the behest of third parties who don’t give a shit about the religion but just want to take advantage of rights that the religion itself refuses to assert.


7 Responses to “Gufi”

  1. Dada Saves
    March 14th, 2006 @ 10:46 am

    My house of worship IS a bar. Will this law impinge on my religious freedoms?

  2. Andrea
    March 14th, 2006 @ 3:30 pm

    “My guess is that it’s less religious than a Kosher deli but more religious than a yoga center.”

    hahahaha… I wonder if Sufis qualify for drug exemptions

  3. chemoelectric
    March 14th, 2006 @ 3:54 pm

    My house of worship also is the House of Moe. What are we going to do?

    —Yours truly, B. Gumble

  4. Choobus
    March 14th, 2006 @ 9:04 pm

    that’s ridiculous. AA meetings are often held in chirches, and people who are forced to go by a court order need to get a drink as soon as they can after a meeting. This zoning claptrap will have a big impact on them. Who will speak for the court ordered AA attending boozers?

  5. Mister Swill
    March 14th, 2006 @ 9:22 pm

    I wonder what percentage of real estate in Manhattan is within 200 feet of a school, church, or synagogue.

    If I’m reading my Google Map correctly, it looks like the numbered streets in the Manhattan grid are spaced about 200 feet apart. So 200 feet essentially means a block north or south, or half a block east or west.

    There was a wonderful bar on my block called Jake’s which closed recently. I assumed it went out of business, but then again, it was located a couple of doors down from a church, not to mention the fact that it’s a block away from an elementary school.

  6. qedpro
    March 14th, 2006 @ 10:43 pm

    They need to have a law that keeps churches 200 feet away from schools as well.
    That would shut down all the churches that are trying to pass themselves off as schools.

  7. Los Pepes
    March 15th, 2006 @ 9:09 pm

    What the hell does a bar have to do with a church?

    A school, I almost understand, kids walking home from school would probably rather not deal with drunks, especially the kind that get hammered at 3PM on a Wednesday.

    Bars don’t typically do their most brisk business at the same time churches do, this is bullshit.

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