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Freedom of religion for Christians has been under attack for some time, but liberal opinion makers haven’t evinced much concern. Indeed, judging by their non-reaction to the fining or jailing of Christian pastors in Canada and Europe who have spoken out against same-sex marriage, the opinion elites seem perfectly willing to sacrifice Christian religious freedom on the altar of gay rights.
But when it comes to the religious freedom of Muslims, it’s a different matter. As a result of the Ground Zero mosque controversy, the liberal elites have suddenly become stout defenders of religious freedom. Moreover, they seem to have taken an absolutist stance on its meaning. Although the politicians and pundits who defend the mosque builders rail against extremists, they themselves have adopted an extremist interpretation of religious freedom—one which makes it equivalent to carte blanche.
Like the highly prized “letters of transit” in Casablanca, the words “freedom of religion” now seem to confer unlimited authority. “They cannot be rescinded, not even questioned,” says Signor Ugarte of the letters of transit. Apparently, the same now holds true for religious freedom. If you’re an Imam, all you have to do is show your First Amendment papers, and you can build your mosque wherever you like—no questions asked.
Yet, as most Americans realize, there are no unlimited rights in our society. Try exercising your Second Amendment rights without getting the necessary permits and you could end up in jail. Use your licensed gun in an irresponsible way, and your right will be abruptly taken away. The same is true for freedom of speech. Libel laws, obscenity laws, national security laws, even laws about “disturbing the peace” put limits on our freedom of speech. Likewise, the free exercise of religion does not extend to suicide cults, or virgin sacrifice, or to church-sanctioned polygamy.
With all the current talk about safeguarding the right of Muslims to religious freedom, it’s instructive to note that U.S. law already prohibits the free exercise of Islam. If this comes as news to some, it’s because we tend to forget that Islam is not just a faith, but also an all encompassing political, legal, and moral system. The embodiment of that system is called “Sharia law,” and the full practice of Islam requires compliance with it. Muslims are bound by these laws because they are believed to be divine commandments. The trouble is, dozens of shariah law provisions are violations of state and federal laws. Here are some examples:
Under shariah law a Muslim girl can be contracted for marriage at any age. The marriage can be consummated when she is eight or nine. The laws of the United States frown upon such arrangements.
Under Sharia a man may marry up to four wives (simultaneously). U.S. law prohibits the practice of polygamy.
Under Sharia law, a man can easily divorce his wife, but a woman cannot divorce her husband without his consent. U.S. divorce courts don’t see things in quite the same way.
Sharia law: Muslim women are forbidden from marrying a non-Muslim.
U.S. law: In this, as in so many other respects, Islamic law is null and void. American citizens are free to marry outside their religion.
Sharia law: the testimony of a woman in court is worth half the value of a man’s testimony.
U.S. law: “Tell it to the judge!”
Sharia law: Muslim men have permission to beat their wives for disobedience.
U.S. law: In U.S. law this Sharia provision is referred to as “domestic abuse battery.”
Sharia law: adultery is punishable by lashing and stoning to death.
U.S. law: “Let he who throws the first stone be prepared for life behind bars.”
Sharia law: homosexuality is punishable by death.
U.S. law: “Abdul, meet your cellmate, Butch.”
Sharia law: thieves may be punished with amputation.
U.S. law: the Eighth Amendment prohibits “cruel and unusual punishments.”
Sharia law: a Muslim who rejects Islam must be killed.
U.S. law: under U.S. laws this form of Islamic justice is referred to as “first- degree murder.”
Sharia law: non-Muslims are not equal to Muslims under the law.
U.S. law: “all men are created equal.”
Sharia law: Sharia law supersedes any system of man-made laws.
U.S. law: Article VI. “This Constitution shall be…the supreme law of the land.”
And so on. A side-by-side comparison of state and federal laws with Sharia laws reveals that in the U.S. the free exercise of Islam is, in many respects, already prohibited. The only way to guarantee Muslims complete freedom to practice their religion would be to rewrite the Constitution and the U.S. Criminal Code to make them Sharia compliant. In other word, free exercise of religion for Muslims would necessitate the abrogation of constitutional rights for U.S. citizens—including the right to freedom of religion.
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