chapter  6
14 Pages

Religion, Land, Rights

ByWinnifred Fallers Sullivan

This chapter considers two contemporary American legal forms of religious life, heirs to the earlier history, that were made apparent in the controversy over the building of a Muslim Community Centre two blocks from the former World Trade Center site in lower Manhattan, a site called Park by the developers. United States' (US) First Amendment jurisprudence depends on the notion that the religious transplants that came to the new world were establishments of some sort back home. The future location of the proposed Muslim community centre at the time of the controversy was occupied by two buildings, one a former Burlington coat factory, now owned by Soho Properties, and the other a building which Soho is leasing and has an option to buy. Title to land in colonial New York derived legally from a complex combination of Indian title deeds, assertions of ultimate ownership residing in the British crown or the Dutch West Indies Company, and usage.