Event Title

Local Government’s Responsiveness: The Newton County Cemetery and Mosque Project

Faculty Mentor

Dr. Florian Pohl

Proposal Type

Oral Presentation

Start Date

3-11-2018 8:00 AM

End Date

3-11-2018 9:00 AM

Location

Nesbitt 2201

Abstract

In the late summer of 2016, the Newton County Board of Commissioners passed a moratorium on the creation of new worship spaces in response to a controversial burial ground and mosque proposal. The proposal received a significant amount of pushback from the local community and inspired political involvement and protest inside Newton County and in the surrounding community. The decisions of the local Board of Commissioners caused a tension among community members and civil liberties advocacy organizations.

This research grows out of Lauren Kirk’s independent study project on American Islam under the direct supervision of Dr. Florian Pohl. The particular interest of this research questions what the specific events in Newton County surrounding the controversy reveal about the role of local government in securing freedom of religion while increasing the level of citizen participation in administrative decisions. A guiding hypothesis of the project is that local governments that take an active role in monitoring and managing citizen attitudes toward Muslims are in a better position to protect minority religious rights while also enhancing local government responsiveness.

This study uses semi-structured personal interviews with politicians in Newton County and uses the anthropological style of ethnographic coding to analyze and categorize data. The goal is to find commonalities within the data that will help to fill a gap in the existing literature by exploring government, especially local government, efforts to mediate between responsiveness to public interest and to the principles of the Constitution.

This research began formally in August of 2017 and is still in progress. Lauren’s goal for the Georgia Undergraduate Research Conference is to give an oral presentation of initial findings and to receive outside feedback that can help to shape the remainder of the project.

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Nov 3rd, 8:00 AM Nov 3rd, 9:00 AM

Local Government’s Responsiveness: The Newton County Cemetery and Mosque Project

Nesbitt 2201

In the late summer of 2016, the Newton County Board of Commissioners passed a moratorium on the creation of new worship spaces in response to a controversial burial ground and mosque proposal. The proposal received a significant amount of pushback from the local community and inspired political involvement and protest inside Newton County and in the surrounding community. The decisions of the local Board of Commissioners caused a tension among community members and civil liberties advocacy organizations.

This research grows out of Lauren Kirk’s independent study project on American Islam under the direct supervision of Dr. Florian Pohl. The particular interest of this research questions what the specific events in Newton County surrounding the controversy reveal about the role of local government in securing freedom of religion while increasing the level of citizen participation in administrative decisions. A guiding hypothesis of the project is that local governments that take an active role in monitoring and managing citizen attitudes toward Muslims are in a better position to protect minority religious rights while also enhancing local government responsiveness.

This study uses semi-structured personal interviews with politicians in Newton County and uses the anthropological style of ethnographic coding to analyze and categorize data. The goal is to find commonalities within the data that will help to fill a gap in the existing literature by exploring government, especially local government, efforts to mediate between responsiveness to public interest and to the principles of the Constitution.

This research began formally in August of 2017 and is still in progress. Lauren’s goal for the Georgia Undergraduate Research Conference is to give an oral presentation of initial findings and to receive outside feedback that can help to shape the remainder of the project.