Many of us chuckle at the bill introduced in the South Carolina House that would ban sharia law from our courts. The misunderstanding that has led to outright paranoia in America has served as red meat to the right-wing Christian base of the republican party, as well as other extremist political groups. Sharia law is no more or less than Islamic law, and has in some countries and cultures been moderate and affirming, in others radical and destructive. Just as has Christianity in this country.
Fortunately for us, the Establishment Clause of our Constitution has held back the tyrants of the Old Testament as well as allowed other beliefs (yes, including atheism) to grow freely. But not without a fight. And the conservative tide in this country has made the separation of church and state ever more tenuous.
Too many of our legislators, both in the state and in Congress, know about that slippery slope. They navigate it pretty well these days, in the hope of opening the door to making Christianity -- their view of Christianity -- the national religion. One law at a time. Prayer -- what harm could it do? Using fake science rather than calling on religion to defend bans on abortion and contraception. And of course whining that by allowing us all to live freely we are taking away the rights of the Christian.
The bill introduced by Chip Limehouse to ban sharia law has been mocked, but be wary because it hasn't gone away. The debate will continue next week. The fear underlying the paranoia is that if in Moslem communities they are allowed to follow their own religious laws, and that can be defended in court, the courts will become the servant of sharia law.
Just as Limehouse and his ilk would like to happen with Christianity. If these radical legislators have their way, extremist Christian moral views could herald a whole new era of blue laws, laws that expressly reflect religious views, and not just on Sunday any more. Bans against homosexuality, contraception, interracial dating, followed by laws against certain types of dress and behavior and music, and then restrictions on movement in the street.
Ridiculous? We've had lately some variation of all those bills in the US, mostly at this point allowing businesses to do the banning and restricting. And while the five two-hundred year old justices of the Supreme Court exercise their pointy heads about whether the Founding Fathers would have wanted the federal government to make laws that invade the rights of businesses, that door continues to open.
Here's the thing. Once that door is open to allowing extremist Christian beliefs to determine the law, it will set the precedent for other radical religious views to be accepted. Hence, the need to specifically ban the rules of other religions, the most notorious and threatening today being sharia law.
The message being that there is only room in US law for one dogmatic tyrannical religious rule and that rule is Old Testament Christianity.
So chuckle if you will, but be aware that on Tuesday our lawmakers are going to be engaged in a heated debate that could close the door to freedom of religion for communities with views different than radical Christian, and that includes atheist and moderate Christian. Thus opening the door wide for "Christian" rule in our courts.
And that is why it has become so important to ban sharia law.
Debate on this bill, H 3521, will be continued in the full House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday. Please go to scstatehouse.gov and follow the links to email all members. Because there are representatives who have signed on to the bill that are not on the committee (and more than one member has already withdrawn their names), I think it makes sense to contact all. Let them know that our courts follow US law and that this bill is not just unnecessary but a senseless attack on a major religion.