Freedom of religion in the United States is a complex issue. It is an issue that involves both tradition and Constitutional law.
Tom Krattenmaker writes, “The freedom to believe as one chooses is crucial to the American way, and belief has little meaning if it cannot be acted upon. Even so…the right to practice religion must have its limits. Especially when the consequences are life or death for those with no choice in the matter.”
Do we look upon freedom of religion in the United States the way many look upon the right to bear arms, a right guaranteed by the Constitution? Just as the courts have allowed restrictions on the right to bear arms, can they also allow restrictions on certain religious practices and beliefs?
What may be some practical limits that freedom of religion may be subject to? It seems that animal sacrifice is not one of those limits.
In 1993, “The Supreme Court ruled...that a Florida city’s ban on ritual animal sacrifice violated the religious freedom of the followers of an Afro-Cuban religion in which the sacrifice of animals plays a central role.
What about human sacrifice? Will human sacrifice be accepted in the United States if it is part of a religious ceremony? Can the religion of the Aztecs, with its human sacrifice and cannibalism, be practiced in Chicago?
“Mexican prosecutors are investigating the poor family living in shacks outside a small town near the US border as alleged members of a cult that sacrificed two 10-year-old boys and a 55-year-old woman to Santa Muerte, or Saint Death, a figure…whose popularity is growing across Mexico and among Hispanics in the United States.”
Human sacrifice in Mexico as part of a religious ceremony and animal sacrifice in the US approach the practical limits of freedom of religion. What about Islam and its beliefs and practices?
Do the beliefs and practices of Islam approach a practical limit or do they go beyond that limit? What we know about Islam leaves many Americans wondering how practical is it to give Constitutional protection to a religion whose adherents have sworn to kill Americans in their own homes.
According to Khaled A. Bedouin, in an opinion piece written for the Washington Post, “Long before 9/11 and the war on terrorism, U.S. courts painted Islam as more than merely a foreign religion, but rather as a rival ideology and “enemy race.” In a notable 1891 case, the Supreme Court highlighted “the intense hostility of the people of Moslem faith to all other sects, and particularly to Christians.”
The US Constitution is the highest law of the land in the United States. Most elected officials and all in the military swear an oath to defend the Constitution. Can believing Muslims in good conscience take this oath?
The prominent iman Zaid Shakir argues that The US Constitution is inferior to Islamic Sharia Law.
Others go beyond what Shakir argues. “Muslims living in America should not be bound by US law, according to a leader of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, who delivered the controversial message to a crowd at a Muslim rally in Austin, Texas.”
“If we are practicing Muslims, we are above the law of the land,” said Mustafa Carroll, executive director of the Dallas-Fort Worth CAIR branch.
It is the ideas inherent in Islamic law that make Islam the greatest challenge that constitutional democracies face. As soon as these democracies grant Islam the status of a political faction, Muslims begin to campaign for the overthrow of the very constitutional structures that make them a viable faction.
If Islam were ever to gain majority power, then it could in turn overthrow the entire constitutional apparatus of secular democracies and replace constitutional law with Sharia, or Islamic law.
John Tutten maintains that, “Muslims and sympathizers who support the establishment of Sharia in the United States are violating our laws against sedition. The Constitution clearly states it is the only law of the land and promoting Sharia is an act of subversion.”
One conclusion we reach from Tutten’s argument is that either Islam stops being Islam, or it be excluded as a political faction from democratic republics. As a practical matter, we can’t have it both ways—Islam and a constitutional republic.
Jamie Galzov echoes this view when he writes in FrontPageMagazine.com, “...a reformed Islam is an oxymoron, because Islam cannot reform and still remain Islam.” In any case, it seems clear we must change, in a practical way, how we view Islam. “Islam is not merely a religion, the free exercise of which the Free Exercise Clause protects. It is also a religious government, the establishment of which the Establishment Clause prohibits.”
Furthermore, “We see building blocks for incrementally establishing Islamic theocracy laid daily in the form of Shariah courts, Shariah financing, food regulation, government sanctioned prayer, etc. It is time to start thinking about the constitutional considerations of such actions.”
William Wagner wants us to get serious about Islam as a constitutional threat. He writes, “At the very least, legal and public policy strategies formulated to defend religious liberty must no longer presuppose a singular secular foe. Since Islam claims law, Islam, and the state are one, we must, whether in academia, the legislatures or the courts, focus some of our attention here.”
It is not out of the question for a nation to ban Islam. “The predominantly Christian country of Slovakia passed a law that effectively bans Islam as an officially recognized religion, which also blocks Islam from receiving any state subsidies for its schools…”
What is stopping the United States from following in Slovakia’s footsteps? Perhaps such a restraint on Islam will happen in the US if we understand that besides its Constitutional implications, Sharia law and Islam also have implications for the very nature of US citizenship.
The source of US citizenship is the Constitution. The oath one takes to become a naturalized citizen of the United States clearly points out why a believing Muslim may not swear allegiance to the US government or be a US citizen.
“I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic…and that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God.”
There is scriptural evidence that the god of Islam is not the God under which this oath of citizenship is sworn. A Muslim cannot faithfully swear the oath of US citizenship to what they believe to be an idolatrous god and remain a Muslim.
When we understand that Muslims cannot become US citizens because of their religious beliefs, and that believing Muslims want to abolish the US Constitution, it becomes clear that, as a practical matter, Muslim entrance into the United States is problematic.
Beyond this, given the revolutionary character of Sharia law, it is within the bounds of self-defense and practicality that Islam be restrained as a religion and political party in the United States. A comparison of the US Constitution with Sharia law makes this all the more evident and necessary.
If the US Constitution places limits on how much a government can do to deal with the threat Islam poses to the American way of life, are there other legitimate and practical matters we can take besides denying citizenship to Muslims?
The recent Executive Order by President Trump to exclude those who happen to be Muslims and come to the United States from countries that export terrorism has not yet been settled in the courts. Many Americans believe the law is clear in this matter and the Trump administration is right in doing what it did.
Beyond that executive order, we could also restrict the construction and opening of mosques in the United States. At the very least, we can demand parity in our relationship with Muslim countries.
According to Yehudi Barsky, as far back as 2005, “Mainstream US Muslim organizations are heavily influenced by Saudi-funded extremists...Worse still, Barsky told The Jerusalem Post last week, these ‘extremist organizations continue to claim the mantle of leadership’ over American Islam.” Furthermore, the Saudi monarchy has spent globally an estimated US $100 billion to spread its Wahhabi version of Islam.
Given the number of mosques the Saudi government has funded, it is ironic that Saudi Arabia does not allow freedom of religion. The US government must gain parity with the Saudi Government in this matter.
If the Saudi’s want a mosque in the US, then the United Sates must be allowed to build a church or synagog in Saudi Arabia. Such a proposal is not unusual. In 2010, Norway’s Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre turned down Saudi funding for a mosque on the grounds that the Saudi kingdom lacks religious freedom.
The Saudis have offered to build 200 new mosques in Germany to accommodate the recent refugees in that country, but will not allow Germans who are Christians to visit Mecca.
The overall number of mosques in the United States rose from 1,209 in 2000 to 2,106 in 2010, an increase of 74%. Today, there are many more.
According to the Daily Caller, “83—or nearly 4 percent—of the 2,106 mosques in the United States can be classified as “radical mosques.” Given these data, it is only practical to negotiate some form of religious parity with Saudi Arabia.
Most Americans grow suspicious and sense something is amiss when hospitality is as lopsided as that exemplified by the Saudis. “Muslim children can play in our yard, but our children can’t play in theirs. What’s going on?” they wonder.
Limiting US citizenship and limiting the number of mosques in the United States are practical matters that can be done to control the threat Islam poses. Just as the right to bear arms is restrained, so should freedom of religion be restrained when it comes to Islam.
After all the legal arguments are made, a man of practical wisdom will give Muslims the honor of taking them seriously. A man of practical wisdom will agree that it is best to place a wall around Islam. History will agree to the wall. Those who died defending Constantinople will say that the wall better be a high one.
Of course, if your political goals are the establishment of a permanent Democratic Party holding lasting political power as is the case in Chicago, and not the safety of the American people and their way of life, then a restraint on Muslim citizenship or mosques is not a practical matter for you.
Nevertheless, courting the Muslim vote may be fraught with danger. Muslims may vote Democratic until voting becomes irrelevant. Then, when it comes time to behead the Democrats, there will be an ample supply of swords.
Robert Klein Engler lives in Des Plaines, Illinois and sometimes New Orleans. Robert’s books are to be found at amazon.com and Lulu.com. His long poem, The Accomplishment of Metaphor and the Necessity of Suffering, set partially in New Orleans, is published by Headwaters Press, Medusa, New York, 2004.
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