The Left

The Wrong Theocracy

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Opponents of shari'a aren't concerned with freedom

While I was on vacation the first part of July, I discovered North Carolina was trying to save us state residents from the threat of an Islamic takeover.

Like more than two dozen bills proposed around the country, the proposal is intended to ban anyone from imposing Islamic sharia law upon us. Or as the latest draft puts it, to "protect its citizens from the application of foreign laws that would result in the violation of a fundamental constitutional right." This has been the preferred language since a judge struck down an Oklahoma anti-shari'a bill for singling out a particular religion.

I think "foreign law" sums up what this is about. It's not about religious freedom, it's about keeping those nasty foreign dark-skinned Muslim people from imposing their religion on us before all-American homegrown Christians can do it. The anti-sharia bills aren't objecting to religiously inspired laws, only to "foreign" religions (just as Tennessee and Louisiana want to give state money to religious schools but not Muslim ones). Because if Christians impose "Bible-based" law on the rest of us, that would be totally different.

I know some people who insist Christianity really is different, because Islam is evil. Doesn't it say in the Koran that Muslims should kill unbelievers? Christianity is all about love and peace!

It's certainly true the vast majority of American Christians don't go around killing unbelievers, but neither do the vast majority of American Muslims. Historically, it's true that Islam has conquered great swaths of territory, enslaved unbelievers and murdered people for believing in the wrong Muslim sect. Christianity has likewise conquered, enslaved and murdered. Even if Christianity in theory embraces a superior moral standard (and I think that's debatable), in practice both faiths show the same dark side (there are lots of good, decent believers too, but that's not my topic). As Thomas Jefferson said, it's in our lives, not our words that our faith is read.

Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't like to see Islamic law opposed over here. In Saudi Arabia in 2002, religious police refused to let schoolgirls leave a burning building because they weren't dressed modestly enough; that's the last thing I want for America.

But I don't want Biblical Christian law (however that's defined) imposed on us either, and it's not like the religious right isn't trying. It's not enough to reject gay marriage, abortion, premarital sex or birth control for themselves, conservative Christian theocrats want government to impose the same standards on everyone, of every faith (or no faith). The really extreme ones would go a lot further: Right-wingers Jared and Douglas Wilson, for instance, have argued that Christianity is completely incompatible with women's rights, therefore women's legal equality has to go away.

Many of the people opposing shari'a aren't objecting to theocracy, they're objecting to non-Christian theocracy. If sharia laws came with a "approved by Jesus" stamp on them, there are religious conservatives who'd embrace them. Heck, some conservative pundits (D'Nesh D'Souza and Rod Dreher, for example) have openly stated they admire Muslim sexual morality'so much better than all that sexual freedom America gives women!

The reason we're not a theocracy is because our Founding Fathers set up a secular state, one where every religion can flourish without government interference and no religion gets to impose its faith on others. Not because Catholics or Protestants are inherently nicer than Shiites or Sunnis or less inclined to dictate to nonbelievers if they get the chance.

There's no religion that won't turn nasty if it gets its hands on the reigns of government power. Which is why none of them should get the chance.

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Updated Aug 12, 2017 12:08 PM EDT | More details


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