I am delighted that Dave from Atlanta took on the difficult but urgently needed task of how Islam should be treated in America. Is Islam like other religions? If it is fundamentally different in nature and intent from other faiths, should its practitioners be accorded the same First Amendment rights of freedom of religion? Thought provoking. Highly recommend!
Should Constitutional Protections Apply to the Practice of Islam in America?
By D. Bouchard (aka Dave from Atlanta)
A columnist for Fellowship of the Minds
There is a certain naïveté on the part of many Americans in that we assume Muslims are entitled to the same freedom of religion in this country which other Americans enjoy. In the great debate over the proposed Ground Zero mosque, I also have repeated the popular mantra: “Sure they have a constitutional right to build the mosque there, but is it the respectful thing to do?” However, based on some recent reading I have done, I now have to say “Wait, not so fast. It may be that Muslims don’t have the constitutional right to build the mosque near Ground Zero.” Let me explain by examining what the U.S. Constitution actually says about religious rights.
The first part of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof….” In the United States, we hold the “separation of church and state” as a sacred tenet and part of our cultural heritage. Our history is replete with stories of the Quakers and other fundamentalist groups who founded the first American colonies to seek freedom from religious persecution in England and Europe.
The Founding Fathers intended the Constitution and its limits on government to be rooted in God-given freedoms. At the same time, the Founding Fathers were children of the Enlightenment who valued the human capacity for reason. And so they designed a government of reasoned principles, not based on religious dogma, which in our modern age is understood as the “separation of church and state” — words not found in the Constitution but in Thomas Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptist’s Association in 1802: “wall of separation between church and state.”
Due to this socio-political heritage, it is easy for us to make the assumption that religion is by nature not government, and that government is not religion. I am by no means a religious scholar, but I have seen enough information lately to know that Islam, one of the world’s biggest religions by population, is quite different from our American idea of religion.
Islam, by nature and by its founder’s intent, is both a religion AND a political system. The establishment of Islam as the political system of theocracy is through Sharia law. In other words, there is no wall of separation between the Islamic “church” and state. Wherever Islam becomes firmly established, Muslims have attempted to usurp the political system there by Sharia law. The examples below will make clear the fundamental incompatibility of Sharia law and US Constitutional law. The two cannot coexist.
In the Judeo- Christian tradition, we have the Ten Commandments. The Ten Commandments originate in the Pentateuch — Judaism’s Torah and the first five books of Christianity’s Old Testament, believed to have been authored by Moses. Understood to be God’s Laws, those commandments had provided a basic framework for Western civilization. Although the West adapted much of the intent of those ten laws, the ten commandments were not applied verbatim to Western government. As an example, it is illegal to commit murder (“Thou shall not kill”), but it is not illegal to fail to observe the holiness of the Sabbath. The Sabbath is strictly a religious observation and is therefore exempt from enforceable laws.
Religious freedom is one of the core tenets of American freedom. We hold religious freedom very close to our hearts, so it is very difficult for Americans to think in terms of limiting religious freedom for anyone. However, due to the nature and aspiration of Islam, our generosity may be our undoing if we keep extending those same freedoms to Muslims in this country. In order to protect our way of life and the Constitution, we must draw a very clear delineation between Islam as a faith and Islam as a governmental system.
The fact that Islam is both a religion and a political system provokes many questions regarding Islam’s protected status in this country: What is the legal definition of “religion”? Is a religion that is also a political system still just a religion? Can a religion whose political tenets conflict with the Constitution be afforded religious protection? How can we, as a people, be protected from the encroachment of the Islamic practices that are already usurping the Constitution of the United States in some areas in this country? Should we challenge the status of Islam as a protected religion in this country? For our very survival, do we need a landmark decision stating that recognizing Islam being both a religion and an aspiring (if not actual) theocracy, the practice of Islam therefore should not be accorded the same protection that we give other faiths?
To evaluate the possible threat to this country by the steady encroachment of Islam, we need only to look at the history and recent experiences of countries like France, Britain, Iran and Turkey to see Islam’s totalitarian grasp on its host society as the number of practicing Muslims increases in that country. The United States can be an exception to that pattern only if Muslims practice their religion without invoking and imposing Sharia law.
Mike Ghouse is an American Muslim and religious scholar who maintains that “public sharia” must be left behind in America while “private Sharia” should continue to be practiced by Muslims. In his own words, “We can retain the private Sharia and let go of the public Sharia; the civil laws of our nation provide ample justice, and we don’t need a duplicate system. Sharia law was never considered divine to begin with. Hence, there is no need to even dream about it.” At the same time, however, Ghouse also states that “many Muslims are led to believe that Sharia law is divine.”
Ghouse was not only trying to allay the fears of Americans, he was also trying to teach Muslims that Sharia law is not needed in this country. But many of his faith believe differently. At the same time as he tries to paint a moderate face on Islam in America, Ghouse singled out several people on the political right (whose faith in Christianity is perhaps equally as intense as his own) as being hate-mongers against Islam: “This may be bad news for the likes of Bridgette Gabriel, Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, John Hagee and a host of other right-wingers, who thrive on selling hate and painting chaotic scenarios.” So even a man who claims to be a voice of reason trying to chart a peaceful course for Muslims in America cannot restrain himself from slinging a little mud at Christians who have expressed concerns regarding the spread of Islam in this country.
At the very least, there is a huge chasm of understanding between the traditional Judeo-Christian beliefs in this country and those of Islam. At worst, we are quietly being overrun by a primitive, totalitarian religion-ideology whose aim is the destruction of the US Constitution and western civilization itself. How can we, as Americans, feel safe in allowing Muslim communities to grow and flourish in America when all of the examples we have seen thus far of Muslim incursions into Europe and the Middle East have resulted in the barbaric practices of stoning and beheading, and the oppression of women and religious minorities, especially Christians and Jews?
Until we have a viable, proven model of an American Islam that assimilates into the larger culture and respects as ultimate law the U.S. Constitution instead of Sharia, Americans should be very wary of granting instant “religious freedom” to practitioners of Islam. In my mind, and based on what I have seen and heard thus far, Islam is really not a religion as we understand it. It is a religion that is also a totalitarian political ideology. Until we have established a legal precedent that clearly defines the “free” expression of Islam as excluding the practice of Sharia law, Americans should be on guard against the spread of Islam in this country.
The American Thinker has exposed 10 pillars and beliefs within Sharia law that are contrary to American laws:
- Islam commands that drinkers and gamblers should be whipped.
- Islam allows husbands to hit their wives even if the husbands merely fear highhandedness in their wives.
- Islam allows an injured plaintiff to exact legal revenge-physical eye for physical eye.
- Islam commands that a male and female thief must have a hand cut off.
- Islam commands that highway robbers should be crucified or mutilated.
- Islam commands that homosexuals must be executed.
- Islam orders unmarried fornicators to be whipped and adulterers to be stoned to death.
- Islam orders death for Muslim and possible death for non-Muslim critics of Muhammad, the Quran, and Sharia.
- Islam orders apostates to be killed.
- Islam commands offensive and aggressive and unjust jihad.
Quran verses calling Muslims to war with nonbelievers:
- Quran (2:191-193): “And slay them wherever ye find them, and drive them out of the places whence they drove you out, for persecution of Muslims is worse than slaughter of non-believers and fight them until persecution is no more, and religion is for Allah.”
- Quran (2: 216): “Fighting is prescribed for you, and ye dislike it. But it is possible that ye dislike a thing which is good for you, and that ye love a thing which is bad for you. But Allah knoweth, and ye know not.”
- Quran (3:56): “As to those who reject faith, I will punish them with terrible agony in this world and in the Hereafter, nor will they have anyone to help.”
- Quran (3:151): “Soon shall We cast terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers, for that they joined companions with Allah, for which He had sent no authority.” This speaks directly of polytheists, yet it also includes Christians, since they believe in the Trinity.
- Quran (4:74): “Let those fight in the way of Allah who sell the life of this world for the other. Whoso fighteth in the way of Allah, be he slain or be he victorious, on him We shall bestow a vast reward.”
- Must Read: “The Sword and Shield to Stop the Islamization of America,” http://canadafreepress.com/index.php/article/27856