RSN Fundraising Banner
FB Share
Email This Page
add comment
Print

Rampell writes: "Much-dreaded 'sharia law,' or something resembling it, may well be coming to the United States. Just not in the form many Americans expected. That is, the religiously motivated laws creeping into public policymaking aren't based on the Koran ... They're coming from the White House."

A demonstrator shouts and carries a 'Stop Islam' sign while another rips pages out of a Quran during a 'Freedom of Speech Rally Round II' outside the Islamic Community Center of Phoenix, Arizona. (photo: Nancy Wiechec/Reuters)
A demonstrator shouts and carries a 'Stop Islam' sign while another rips pages out of a Quran during a 'Freedom of Speech Rally Round II' outside the Islamic Community Center of Phoenix, Arizona. (photo: Nancy Wiechec/Reuters)


Sharia Law May Be Coming to America. But It's Christians Who Are Bringing It.

By Catherine Rampell, The Washington Post

04 February 17

 

uch-dreaded “sharia law,” or something resembling it, may well be coming to the United States.

Just not in the form many Americans expected.

That is, the religiously motivated laws creeping into public policymaking aren’t based on the Koran, and they aren’t coming from mythical hard-line Islamists in, say, Dearborn, Mich. They’re coming from the White House, which wants to make it easier for hard-line Christians to impose their beliefs and practices on the rest of us.

A few days after declaring his intention to impose a religious test upon refugees so that Christians would be given priority, President Trump gave a bizarre speech at the National Prayer Breakfast. In between a plug for “The Apprentice” and boasts about his disastrous calls with heads of allied states, he made some less-noticed policy news.

He vowed to help blur the line between church and state by repealing the Johnson Amendment.

For those unfamiliar, this tax code provision bars tax-exempt entities such as churches and charitable organizations from participating in campaigns for or against political candidates. It dates to 1954, when it was signed by Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower. It was not terribly controversial at the time.

The provision basically says that if you want to be exempted from paying taxes — meaning you are effectively subsidized by other taxpayers, who pay for your access to emergency services, roads and other government functions — you can’t be involved in partisan politics. You can’t, among other things, take tax-deductible donations from your worshippers and turn around and spend them on political campaigns.

That’s just the trade-off you agree to make.

Certain religious organizations, in particular those from the evangelical Christian community, have opposed this law in recent years. And during the campaign, Trump indicated he’d do his darnedest to get them what they really want: not the ability to endorse candidates from the pulpit — a practice that the IRS has already been ignoring — but the ability to funnel taxpayer-subsidized funds into the political process.

The president can’t “totally destroy” the law unilaterally, despite Trump’s pledge to do so; he’ll need action from Congress, but that may not be hard to secure these days. Republicans control both houses of Congress, and the most recent Republican platform included a commitment to repeal the Johnson Amendment.

Also this week, the Nation’s Sarah Posner published a leaked draft of an executive order that would require federal agencies to look the other way when private organizations discriminate based on religious beliefs. Coincidentally, these seem to primarily be religious beliefs held by conservative Christians.

The effect of the order might be to create wholesale exemptions to anti-discrimination law for people, nonprofits and closely held for-profit corporations that claim religious objections to same-sex marriage, premarital sex, abortion and transgender identity. It would also curb women’s access to contraception through the Affordable Care Act. (A White House official did not dispute the draft’s authenticity.)

This is, of course, all in the name of preserving religious freedom. Except that it allows some people to practice religious freedom by denying jobs, services and potentially public accommodation to those with differing beliefs.

The order, if signed, would seem to exceed the executive branch’s authority, Posner notes; moreover, given that the order’s language appears to privilege some religious beliefs over others, it may violate the establishment clause of the First Amendment.

Trump has also chosen personnel who seem keen on muddying the distinction between church and state.

For example, his embattled education secretary nominee, Betsy DeVos, has advocated that government dollars be channeled to religious schools through relatively expansive voucher programs. (During the campaign, Trump also said that public funds should follow students to the private school of their choice, explicitly including religious schools.)

During her confirmation hearings, DeVos’s cryptic comments about supporting science education that encourages “critical thinking” have also been interpreted as well-established code for supporting the teaching of intelligent design, a sort of dressed-up creationism.

I wish I could say that only a tiny fringe believes Christian practices deserve pride of place in public life and policymaking. But that’s not the case.

In a poll released this week by the Pew Research Center, Americans were asked what made someone “truly American.” A third of respondents overall, and 43 percent of Republicans, said you need to be Christian. That would exclude me, as well as about 30 percent of the population.

The far right has done a lot of fear-mongering about the undue influence that religious fanatics may soon exert on the body politic. Seems they better understood what they were talking about than most of us realized.

e-max.it: your social media marketing partner
 

Comments   

We are going to return to our original fully-moderated format in the comments section.

The abusive complaints in the comment sections are just too far out of control at this point and have become a significant burden on our staff. As a result, our moderators will review all comments prior to publication. Comments will no longer go live immediately. Please be patient and check back.

To improve your chances of seeing your comment published, avoid confrontational or antagonistic methods of communication. Really that is the problem we are confronting.

We encourage all views. We discourage ad hominem disparagement.

Marc Ash
Founder, Reader Supported News

 
+76 # DongiC 2017-02-04 14:37
When Trump is for something, watch out, trouble is coming. Conversely, when he is against something (like the Johnson Amendment), the wise person is for it. Trump is just topsy-turvy politically.
 
 
+46 # kcmwilson 2017-02-04 18:45
Presently religious fanatics are the greatest source and cause of wars and violence on Earth. All this fighting over whose made up deity is the best, the most powerful, the real and only GOD. All of them are made up to control the general population and keep us at war, which is highly profitable for rulers and despots. I'd say "God help us," but we all know how well that works. It's very clear that there is very little intelligent life on Earth!...k
 
 
+13 # Howard A. Doughty 2017-02-05 09:35
Quoting kcmwilson:
Presently religious fanatics are the greatest source and cause of wars and violence on Earth


I do not doubt that religion - Muslim, Christian, Jewish ... and Hindu in India and even Buddhist in Sri Lanka - are certainly implicated in all manner of war, violence, cruelty and so on.

So, too, is nationalism and the two are often conflated in the USA and elsewhere.

Religion, nationalism, political ideologies of various sorts and other doctrines, mind-sets and what you will are, however, merely ideas and sets of ideas. They serve as instruments of indoctrination and mobilization. They whip up enthusiasm and convince their adherents of the righteousness of their causes.

They are, however, not the primal sources of mayhem and madness. Those are best examined in terms of the structures of economic power and political authority that exist in all societies - monocultural or multicultural, conservative or liberal, religious or secular.
 
 
+34 # Irritated old person 2017-02-04 18:51
When the word "Christian" is thrown about, I wish there were a better definition. I am also a Christian, but I abhor almost all of the rants of the radical religious right Christians. And, my family has been here since the Revolutionary War. Doesn't that make me an American by this time?
 
 
-34 # Old School Conservative 2017-02-05 12:01
If you are a Christian, then you believe in Christ and his teachings. If you disagree with all of the positions of the religious right which are based on scripture, then maybe you aren't a Christian.
 
 
+8 # Diane_Wilkinson_Trefethen_aka_tref 2017-02-05 17:11
Quoting Old School Conservative:
If you are a Christian, then you believe in Christ and his teachings. If you disagree with all of the positions of the religious right which are based on scripture, then maybe you aren't a Christian.
Whatever you are, you are NOT an “old school Conservative.” Take it from Barry Goldwater. "Well, I've spent quite a number of years carrying the flag of the 'Old Conservatism.' And I can say with conviction that the religious issues of [the Religious Right] have little or nothing to do with conservative or liberal politics. The uncompromising position of these groups is a divisive element that could tear apart the very spirit of our representative system, if they gain sufficient strength." "I don't have any respect for the Religious Right. There is no place in this country for practicing religion in politics.”
 
 
+8 # NAVYVET 2017-02-06 00:33
Or perhaps you are not reading the Bible correctly, understanding and forgiving all the contradictions and recognized untruths as reflecting human thoughts and human errors.

Christians who accept the religious right's views are kidding themselves if they assume they are genuine Christians. As many a theologian has pointed out, they are Manichaean heretics, closer to Zoroastrianism than to Christianity, but rejected by all faiths.
 
 
0 # Working Class 2017-02-12 19:56
Are you talking about the scripture found in The Book of Mathew? You know, the words about who reaches heaven. That being those who took care of "the least of these"? If not, then get behind me Satin. If you think you can ask for forgiveness and that will be your get out of jail free card it just save your miserable ass.
 
 
+7 # Diane_Wilkinson_Trefethen_aka_tref 2017-02-05 17:29
@Irritated old person - You are having the same problem as Muslims. The inarguable fact is that Jihadists have usurped the words Muslim and Islam and perverted both to their own evil purposes. The same can be said of the Religious Right vis-à-vis Christianity.
 
 
+2 # Diane_Wilkinson_Trefethen_aka_tref 2017-02-05 17:35
Old School Conservative criticized you saying, “If you disagree with all of the positions of the religious right which are based on scripture, then maybe you aren't a Christian.” He’s wrong.
1) Much of Old Testament scripture was contradicted and superseded by the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. So a REAL Christian is going to disagree with all that obsolete scripture.
2) Most of the views from the Religious Right are based on the OLD TESTAMENT.

Ergo, if you disagree with positions taken by the religious right, you are AGREEING with Jesus which makes YOU a Christian, not them.
 
 
-6 # Old School Conservative 2017-02-06 10:30
I must disagree with everything you said. Jesus did not contradict anything in the old testament. As a Christian you believe scripture is inspired by God. If you do not treat scripture as the word of God, then you are not a Christian. As a Christian you don't have a right to choose what parts you like, and what parts you don't. You have the right to believe whatever you want, but don't claim to be a Christian if you are not a believer.
 
 
+4 # kyzipster 2017-02-07 12:48
You sound like a fundamentalist Christian, believing that the Bible is the inerrant word of god. Millions of Christians are not. Some believe it's a book written by flawed humans, inspired by their god, often reflecting very outdated views of morality.

Fundamentalists cherry pick their Bible, a book that demands that a rapist marry his victim, tells a person how to treat their slaves, endorses polygamy, etc.

Even fundamentalists eventually follow along with the higher morality of a free, secular society when feeling the overwhelming pressure of the majority, backed by the law of the state. Abandoning ancient views of morality, kicking and screaming along the way.
 
 
+1 # Diane_Wilkinson_Trefethen_aka_tref 2017-02-10 15:15
Quoting Old School Conservative:
Jesus did not contradict anything in the old testament.
The Old Testament was given to a primitive people who could neither write nor count above 2 and whose primary duty was to survive. They were told to kill fellow tribesmen for some “sins” that weren’t really capital crimes but at that time there were no alternatives. They were also told to kill members of competing tribes, mostly because those tribes did not worship the God of Israel. By the time of Jesus, the survival of the human race was no longer in doubt. There were other means to deal with those who sinned besides killing them and coexisting with people who did not worship the Jewish God had become a necessity.

Then Jesus brought men a new gospel, not predicated on raw survival but on the next step mankind needed to take: to love and care for one another:

Matthew 5:38-45, KJV
38 Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth:
39 But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.
43 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.
44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

That is clearly a contradiction of “the Word of God” as it was expressed in Exodus, Leviticus and Deuteronomy.
 
 
0 # NAVYVET 2017-02-21 21:58
Actually the Old Testament era wasn't nearly as gory as the chest-thumping priestly writers of Joshua, Judges, etc. wrote down in Babylon--when the O.T. stories were written down. I'm intrigued with the work of Israeli archaeologist Israel Finkelstein, who has dug up many ancient sites including Jerusalem. He and a co-author report in THE BIBLE UNEARTHED that the evidence shows an agrarian, pastoral and quite rural (not urban) early Hebrew civilization. Put this book together with Shlomo Sand's brilliant history (he calls it "Mythistory") of early Israel, THE INVENTION OF THE JEWISH PEOPLE, and it seems that the Hebrews' AND Palestinians' ancestors lived there from the Neolithic till now, with no historic proof of slavery in Egypt, or "Exodus" wars against older settlers in the land they later on claimed to invade and conquer, or captivity of more than the noble and priestly castes in Babylon, leaving the farmers in Israel and Judah, or a mass Exile in Roman times--just steady continuity. The Palestinians are also descended from those early Jews, and there never were a huge temple built by Solomon, mighty kings like David and Solomon, or a city of Jerusalem that rivaled Babylon. Just a small sleepy town, a small temple, and priestly story-tellers and scribes with big ideas and imaginations. Drs Finkelstein and Sand understand the Palestinians as DNA brethren, so their discoveries are important politically as well as scientifically.
 
 
+36 # Emmanuel Goldstein 2017-02-04 19:07
Excellent piece, Catherine! Thank you. There is indeed a large swath of Americans who don't understand what America is supposed to be all about -- a land open to all, as symbolized by the Statue of Liberty and other testimonials to our nation's ecumenicalism and diversity. But that large swath of religious bigots cited by Pew was only half as large as the real Americans who have a more open-minded (and truly Christian, for that matter) view. If we all speak out, we can prevail.
 
 
+4 # NAVYVET 2017-02-04 19:11
And mentally.
 
 
+39 # ericlane 2017-02-04 19:11
A true American believes in separating church and state.
 
 
+35 # sashapyle 2017-02-04 19:26
HWJF? How would Jesus feel about this malarkey? These knuckledragging spitemongers who throw his name around do not act in accordance with his most important teachings. People all over the world have belief systems, creation stories and what would appear to be a hard-wired spiritual drive. Believe what you want and leave everyone else out of it, please!
OTOH, this is really just code for race. You don't see these fascists respecting black churches or Mexican Catholics one iota, never mind mosques, synagogues, Quaker Meetinghouses and Bahai temples. They probably aren't terribly fond of Unitarians either.
 
 
0 # NAVYVET 2017-02-21 22:29
The murderer who, a few years ago, began shooting parishioners during a children's service in the Unitarian Universalist church of Knoxville TN, was inspired by "religious" pamphlets. It was tragic that a brave defender was killed, but that man and another parishioner managed to disarm the murderer before too many were killed.

In 1953, at age 17, I left an all-white Florida Protestant church, where teenaged boys desecrated synagogues and pushed black kids down on the sidewalk, BECAUSE I'd read the Bible twice and knew they weren't Christian! For two years I sought a faith that actually practiced what Jesus taught, until in 1956 I found the Unitarian Fellowship at my college. A few weeks after I started attending, the students decided to champion a highly qualified young black man for entry into our Law School. The other college religious groups lent us paper for petitions, a mimeograph, ink, table & chairs, and a location on the Wesley Foundation lawn across from the campus. After 3 hours and about 3 thousand signatures we were (illegally) arrested by campus & city cops, the petitions grabbed. After an afternoon of terror we were sprung from the lockup by the Dean of Women, a former WAC Lt Colonel (who tore up the charge sheets, else I'd never have gotten into the Navy!), but I knew I'd chosen the right religion. Now I'm almost 81 and I've never regretted becoming a UU! We do pay attention to Jesus, and to all the world's great religious teachers.
 
 
+41 # hipocampelo 2017-02-04 19:57
As a non-practicing non-christian, I fully
believe that religion should play no role
at all in politics. There are, after all,
already far too many gods in this world.
 
 
+11 # Skyelav 2017-02-04 20:29
The ONLY thing good about him is he is bound to uproot the power of the oligarchy who controls wall street. Unfortunately, he has given them all the power they need and the rest of it be damned. All they care about is making money, and with his de-regs they will -- in spades.
 
 
+8 # LionMousePudding 2017-02-05 03:10
...Those spades being used to dig our mass grave...
 
 
-23 # lnason@umassd.edu 2017-02-04 21:28
It doesn't qualify as a "religious test" when our government grants refugee status to a persecuted religious minority. Of course we should grant refugee status to Christians, Yazidis, Jews, Shia Muslims, Sufi Muslims, Alawite Muslims and other religious minorities who are being targeted for sex slavery or brutal death at the hands of ISIS. And I would say ditto Christian Copts from Egypt. Ditto Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar. This policy is not designed to "establish religion" in the United States -- it is clearly designed to minimize the slaughter of innocent people because of their religious beliefs. If Ms. Rampell believes otherwise, she is blind.

Lee Nason
New Bedford
 
 
+6 # ericlane 2017-02-05 05:26
Huh?
 
 
+1 # economagic 2017-02-06 07:25
"HUH?" indeed. But Ms. Nason is not known in these pages for her razor-sharp reasoning.
 
 
+2 # Diane_Wilkinson_Trefethen_aka_tref 2017-02-05 18:23
Quoting lnason@umassd.edu:
It doesn't qualify as a "religious test" when our government grants refugee status to a persecuted religious minority.
Of course it does. When you say to a group of refugees, “All the Christians step to the right side of the room. You may come to America. The rest of you can’t come here,” that’s about as “religious” as a “test” can be.

Quoting lnason@umassd.edu:
This policy is not designed to "establish religion" in the United States
You have a poor understanding of the 1st Amendment. The 1st Amendment uses “an establishment” meaning “the beliefs,” not “the creation.” This can be easily ascertained from the second sub-clause, “prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” That clause, were it to have stood alone, would be, “Congress shall make no law prohibiting the free exercise of an establishment of religion.” Now substitute “the beliefs” to get, “Congress shall make no law prohibiting the free exercise of the beliefs of a religion.” That guarantees that you can practice your religion, an important concern in the late 1700’s. Now substitute “the creation” and that clause reads, “Congress shall make no law prohibiting the free exercise of the creation of a religion.” Really? The Founders wanted to waste time prohibiting Congress from creating a religion? Like that was a serious concern in the American colonies? Not hardly.
 
 
+22 # elizabethblock 2017-02-04 21:51
This has been the law in Canada for I don't know how long. Charities may not use their money for political purposes; if they do, they are liable to have their charitable status revoked. During the Harper years, aim was taken at a lot of charities, including religious ones, on the pretext that they were engaging in political activities.
Of course this never included the Jewish National Fund, which raises money for settlements that are illegal under international law and condemned by Canada's official policy.
 
 
+10 # janie1893 2017-02-05 01:17
It has ever been thus. Religious wars go back to the cave. I wish there was an answer to it all, but as kcwilson says war is profitable. What little intelligent life is left wont last long with this President and his cronies.
 
 
+22 # scholartype 2017-02-05 06:28
Yes, Ms. DeVos is in favor of public funding for parochial schools. But not ALL parochial schools. She does NOT want funding for schools sponsored by a mosque. Because, terrorism. She has deluded ideas about education, and living in Michigan I have seen her handiwork up-close. She is honestly clueless about public education, if not aggressively hostile to it.
 
 
+15 # ericlipps 2017-02-05 08:35
Why should Donald Trump care about the establishment clause? He's already indicated his contempt for the entire Constitution, with the possible exception of the Second Amendment. (Gotta keep those 'Second Amendment people" happy, after all, for 2020.)
 
 
+12 # Rcomm 2017-02-05 09:23
“Religions are not for separating men from one another. They are meant to bind them." Mahatma Gandhi
 
 
+4 # Diane_Wilkinson_Trefethen_aka_tref 2017-02-05 18:28
Quoting Rcomm:
“Religions are not for separating men from one another. They are meant to bind them." Mahatma Gandhi
True. It's the PEOPLE WHO RUN RELIGIONS that want to separate men from one another for fun, profit and power.
 
 
+1 # elkingo 2017-02-06 02:48
It's true. The bastard does exactly the wrong thing in every case.
 
 
+1 # elkingo 2017-02-06 02:52
And tiredly, yet once again: separation of church and state, anyone? What's so hard to understand Donald? O yeah: it's in the Constitution.
 
 
+6 # economagic 2017-02-06 07:38
"Also this week, the Nation’s Sarah Posner published a leaked draft of an executive order that would require federal agencies to look the other way when private organizations discriminate based on religious beliefs. Coincidentally, these seem to primarily be religious beliefs held by conservative Christians."

I really wish we could get beyond the way that the terms "conservative" and "liberal" -- especially "conservative" -- are currently used. It is not "conservative" to attempt to take society back to a more primitive state that has been largely abandoned. With a few notable exceptions, the people we call "conservative" today seek to conserve nothing, but to return society to a golden age that never really was, and was drastically otherwise for individuals and groups not in power.

While not all of these pseudo-conserva tives are still fighting the Civil War, they are all seeking to "restore" a perceived position of power and privilege that few of them ever enjoyed to begin with. Their fears, especially fear of the perceived "Other" (despite the clear teachings of their own prophet), lead them diametrically away from any stance that could meaningfully be called "conservative." I wish that otherwise wise writers would call them what they are: Christian extremists, who, like all religious zealots, twist what they claim to believe to debase and often to destroy those they perceive as "Other."
 

THE NEW STREAMLINED RSN LOGIN PROCESS: Register once, then login and you are ready to comment. All you need is a Username and a Password of your choosing and you are free to comment whenever you like! Welcome to the Reader Supported News community.

RSNRSN