If there is something constructive to be gained from the anti-mosque, anti-Muslim fervor in middle Tennessee right now, it is the reminder that when it comes to matters of politics and policy in America, religion still carries tremendous influence.
I wrote in Solutions about how religion -- Christianity in particular -- is advancing the movement against mountaintop removal mining in Tennessee, a state thus far relatively untouched by the destructive practice. Small, clustered church groups are convincing people, congregation by congregation, and with remarkable success, that the preservation of nature and its relationship to humanity are central tenets of mainstream Christianity, which has also grown more political in recent years.
If the Obama administration's regulatory actions are any indication, policy is shifting against mountaintop removal. But how far will religion go in capturing the hearts and minds of people in coal country whose livelihoods depend on mining, and who need the most convincing?