Since the opening of a new mosque over a week ago, news from the nearby city of Murfreesboro has seemed rather tame and uneventful, leaving many Nashville residents feeling suspicious and apprehensive.
“It’s not normal for them to be quiet for so long” noted Antioch resident Janelle Fry. “The natural state of Murfreesboro is chaos, and when things start going smooth and there aren’t any big controversies, well, it just doesn’t sit right. It’s like they’re planning something. Something big. It’s like on The Untouchables or something, where one of ‘em says ‘It’s quiet, too quiet’.”
Murfreesboro, a city with roughly 111k residents and the seat of Rutherford County, has been no stranger to national headlines in recent years. Most recently, the town drew national attention when the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro (or ICM) was met with frequent protests, a bomb threat, arson, and legal challenges prior to its eventual August 10th opening. The massive and outspoken opposition to a mosque by area residents brought the spotlight from national news media, as well as lampooning on Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show”. This controversy began just as a different legal battle was drawing to a close over a Christian theme-park; supporters of the proposed “Bible Park USA”, which would have been located near the Blackman/Rockvale communities on the outskirts of Murfreesboro, sued the Rutherford County Government after the County Commission denied zoning for the religion-themed attraction. The Bible Park controversy was eventually dismissed by a federal judge after several years of debate and litigation.
While legal battles over the Christian Theme Park and ICM raged on, Murfreesboro managed to regularly keep national reporters on their toes with other unconventional news items; odd highlights included the destruction of the World’s Largest Cedar Bucket by vandals in 2005, a racially-charged poem to newly-elected President Obama written by a school administrator in 2008, & the arrest of Vinnie Vincent, a former guitarist from the rock-band KISS, for abusing his wife in 2011. However, these incidents were simply fodder to keep the news-cycle going as the over-arching religious debates continued in the former state capitol of Tennessee. With both the Bible Park and Mosque issues now put to rest, and no new outlandish headlines during the intervening week-and-a-half since, residents of neighboring counties are left to wonder if this is a new-found era of peace, or simply the calm before the storm.
“It’s unnerving, really” says Fry. “You get used to their shenanigans, to them being just frickin’ crazy down there, and when it stops suddenly, you can’t help but be uneasy and wonder what’s next. I just hope that whatever it is, my family will remain safe.”
Courthouse photo found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Rutherford_tennessee_county_courthouse.jpg