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One Nation Under Allah

(RNS) It isn’t a crime to practice Islam in the United States of America.
At least, not yet.
On Monday (March 14), Missouri state Rep. Don Wells introduced a proposed constitutional amendment aimed at blocking Shariah — the Islamic legal code — from being used in state courts. Another Missouri lawmaker introduced a bill to ban the use of any foreign laws in state courtrooms.
Wells said he introduced the Shariah ban out of concern that there is a global push to accept Islamic laws that he views as oppressive to women and as calling for violent punishment for minor offenses.
“I think it’s just absolutely a guarantee to my children and grandchildren that in the future they will live under the same laws that I grew up under,” Wells told The Associated Press.
Earlier this month, Tennessee lawmakers began consideration of a bill that would make the practice of Shariah law a felony. The bill was introduced by conservative legislators with ties to ongoing efforts to block the construction of an Islamic center near Ground Zero in New York City and the expansion of a mosque near Nashville.
Similar laws have been proposed in a dozen other states, including Oklahoma, where last November voters approved a constitutional amendment banning the use of Shariah law in state courts. That ban has since been challenged as unconstitutional in federal court.
The moves come amidst controversy over congressional hearings on the spread of “radical” Islam in the United States. Proponents say their efforts are a reaction to what they see as a move to have Shariah supersede U.S. civil law.
But critics say those efforts amount to little more than blatant anti-Muslim bigotry and fly in the face of the First Amendment’s protection of the “free exercise” of religion.
Some called the congressional hearings a “witch hunt” and compared them to those convened by Sen. Joseph McCarthy in the 1940s and ’50s to ferret out Communists and their sympathizers.
“Today, millions of Muslim Americans are subjected to thoughtless generalizations, open discrimination, and outright hostility because of a tiny minority whose acts of violence deny the teachings of the Quran and are denounced by other Muslims,” said the Rev. Michael Kinnamon, general secretary of the National Council of Churches.
A poll last August by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life found that Americans remain deeply conflicted about their opinions of Islam in the U.S. The study found that only 30 percent hold a “favorable” opinion of Islam, a drop of more than 10 percent since 2005.
Thirty-five percent of those surveyed said they believed Islam “encouraged” violence compared to other religions, while 42 percent said it did not, according to the Pew poll.
Testifying at the hearings convened by House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Peter King, Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., the first Muslim elected to Congress, conceded that some individuals, “including some who are Muslims, are violent extremists.”
“However,” he added, “these are individuals, not entire communities. When you assign their violent actions to the entire community, you assign collective blame to a whole group. This is the very heart of stereotyping and scapegoating.”
Shariah is a set of guiding principles derived from the Quran, which were then interpreted over centuries by Islamic religious scholars. Shariah addresses a broad spectrum of issues, from crime and economics to hygiene and sexuality. While most Muslims accept Shariah as sacred, its interpretation and application vary widely depending on religious, cultural and geographic points of view.
Viewing Shariah as one set entity is akin to viewing the Bible and Christians’ interpretation thereof as a singular thing. There are as many ways to view the Bible and its teachings (and laws) as there are Christians.
American Islam, like American Christianity, is not a monolith.
“It’s anything but,” Syracuse University professor Gustav Niebuhr, author of “Beyond Tolerance: Searching for Interfaith Understanding in America,” told the PBS program “Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly” recently. “There are people who are wealthy. There are people who are white-collar. There are all sorts of professionals. There are blue-collar people. There are people who have been here since the 1960s, people who’ve recently arrived.
“At the very time that you’ve got people fighting for freedom and human rights in North Africa, you have internationally televised hearings questioning the patriotism of at least some American Muslims,” Niebuhr said. “What’s hopeful is that people … have stood with Muslims — and stood with Muslims as Americans — in this country. And I hope that the latter is received more strongly than the former, at least for American interests abroad.”
– CATHLEEN FALSANI, Religion News Service

  • Gwyddion9

    Actually, there is something already in place for such an event, whether it is Muslim or Conservative Christian, The First Amendment.

  • Michael Huber

    It is not anti-Muslim bigotry. We have one set of laws already afforded by the Constitution. We should definately not let Sharia law into the country. Where does it stop? What if Bhuddist want to introduce their brand of justice into the USA? What of Hindu? Paganism? Satanism? etc.
    Is the Constitution based upon Biblical principles? I believe that they are. Those who do not like that, well then get out. I currently live in a muslim country. Even though their laws are less fair to a certain group of people (Christians), guess what, it is THEIR country, not mine. And once done here I certainly will be happy to leave, but I respect that it is indeed their country and don’t cry foul everytime something “unjust” happens to Christians.
    Also, free expression of religion is not an absolute right. The only absolute right afforded in the First Amendment is the right to believe. There are “expressions” of religion that is prohibited by law. Sharia, denies equal rights, harsh treatment of women, etc. As such, it should indeed be banned.

  • nnmns

    I am against practicing “Shariah Law” or any religious” law” in any US court. I wouldn’t have thought it was necessary to have a law to prevent it, but I’d support a law against use of any foreign religious laws in US courts. I don’t like the idea of specifically identifying Muslim laws and I hope that’s unconstitutional.

  • Bobbie Connell

    Michael Huber, your voice is one of the few I have read lately in which the sound of common sense and informed thought prevails. I agree with you one hundred percent and would only add Amen and Amen!

  • Georgia Dude

    I agree with the two Missouri atate legislators, but there is some hypocraticies aling the conservative Christians. 1. Being anti-abortion
    2. anti LGBT 3. anti affirminative actions 5. anti cultural sensitivities. 6. anti- taxes (at the expense of the poor and the needy) 7. anti healthcare 8. pro profit 9. anti tolerance 19. pro selfishness and other things that can point to their hypocraies.

  • TL Winslow

    The Constitution isn’t a suicide pact, and doesn’t give any religion a welcome mat to subvert it.
    Islam is unlike other major religions because from day one its god Allah commanded all Muslims to conquer the world for him and set up His Way called Sharia that makes Muslims superior to non-Muslims in all ways and tramples the latter’s rights and freedoms into perpetual subjection. There is a Muslim world because the orders were obeyed. The U.S. has long been mankind’s last best hope, and it could never have been created unless it enjoyed a splendid isolation from the horrible Muslim world where infidels like our Founding Fathers are considered eternal enemies of the faith, the prophet, and the god they all worship. Even back in 1776 the Muslims of the Barbary Coast were capturing British and later American ships and forcing them to pay the jizya tax that Allah decrees that non-Muslims must pay Muslims to be allowed to live, causing the U.S. to send the navy in to kick their butts, as enshrined in the Marine Corps hymn about the shores of Tripoli. Only in recent years has mass immigration from the Muslim world been permitted, resulting in the Ft. Hood Jihadist, the Times Square Bomber, etc.
    So the handwriting is on the wall, and Congress should act now to declare a moratorium on immigration from the Muslim world until it changes as proved by dethroning Islam as the official religion, abolishing Sharia and all pretentions to world domination, and showing it by opening up to all religions. Until then there are very real battle lines, and Muslim immigration is a Trojan Horse, creating a potential fifth column of enemy combatants whose loyalties won’t be to our Constitution but to the Borg-like Muslim Ummah or world body of believers taking orders from the Quran.
    America must address this issue now or face disaster, and get over PC hangups about racism, bigotry, etc. Islam isn’t a race, it’s an ideology whose god wants to absorb all races, and as such it’s the problem with its intolerance and supremacy and will to dominate the world. As Americans we know that the U.S. and its Constitution are the solution, and we must not give Islam one inch, here or anywhere.
    Laws guarding against Muslims trying to enact Sharia on our soil are prudent, but how many Muslims do we want to live here anyway out of the 1.5 billion, 500 million? It only takes them to reach the 10% level or so to start an open civil war, as proved historically in country, Lebanon being a recent example, and Europe getting dangerously close daily. And where are our Jews going to go? The Muslim world contains some of the most virulent anti-Semites.
    Read the Historyscoper’s Islam Watch Blog.

  • Henrietta22

    MO Representative Don Wells did good. This is the U.S.A., and only our laws should be in our courtrooms. This has nothing to do with their right to practise their religion. They can do that in their Mosques, not our courtrooms of U.S. Justice. No other country should be able to use their laws in our courtrooms either.

  • nnmns

    There are plenty of Christians who think their god commanded them (therefore us) to conquer the world. That’s not unique to Islam. And obviously we don’t want it happening any more than we want Christianity conquering the world.

  • cknuck

    nnmns I know no Christians who desire to conquer the world, when you stick to the facts instead of your prejudices you tend to make sense but when your otherwise good sense is overwhelmed then you make little sense and seem small and hateful.

  • pagansister

    Religion shouldn’t be in any courts in the USA, no matter what religion that might be—however some feel that in the USA “god rules”. So not allowing Muslim laws is right—-now if they could keep all religion out—thta would be great.

  • jestrfyl

    Wells is simply igniting a torch, not to dispel the dark, but to create more smoke. He is either a fool or a fiend – a fool for buying into the rhetoric of blind, heartless, hate – or a fiend for trying to further divide people when our only hope is unity in diversity. Either way – he should take a seat and let people who really have some viable ideas take the floor and take charge.

  • cknuck

    Only a fool would think that religion would not be in the courts or for that matter could be eliminated from any public forum or service. Religion is a deep part of most people’s conscience and for the most part is the compassionate component that helps people to consider grace. The matter before us which the founders had a much better handle on is to make room for all points of view and realize it takes everyone in the community to run the community.

  • Victor

    Of course Sharia Law shouldn’t be adopted. Different people having their own set of laws is ridiculous. No special exceptions for the religious, be it Islam or Christian Scientists killing their children.
    Wells does sound like an alarmist crackpot, though. He could have taken the time to formulate his thoughts in an objective and non-bigoted manner. But, I guess he’d have to not be a bigot to do that.

  • michael gonyea

    The twin clauses of free exercise and non-establishment contained in the First Amendment to the U. S. Constitution are indelibly etched in America’s cultural and legal stone. They guarantee the right to freely practice the religion of ones choosing while at the same time ensuring that religious law will never trump Constitutional law.

  • Mordred08

    Wanting to ban shariah law from court is understandable, though unnecessary, paranoid, and stupid (what part of “not going to happen” don’t you tea party nuts understand?). Now if we could only ban the book of Leviticus from courts as well. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not just about LGBTs being second class citizens because of it. Sometimes, I don’t see eye to eye with my parents, and I don’t want to get executed because of it. Also, animal sacrifices are gross.

  • cknuck

    put down the bottle Mordred

  • nnmns

    cknuck you are just being your usual insulting self. Mordred made a perfectly reasonable post and you implied he was drunk. As one who on occasion seems to post in a reduced mental capacity it would seem you should be able to recognize drunkenness but you miscalled it this time.

  • Mordred08

    I’m not a drinker, cknuck, just a smartass.

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