Ah, double-standards, the subject of most religion pieces I comment on about WND. This is one of those links to another news source (Tulsa World) with only three paragraphs printed but that garnered 120 comments so far, and still counting: “Oklahoma’s Ban on Sharia Tossed by Federal Judge.”

Alright, this isn’t a hard issue. Goes like this: Oklahoma voters in a profound moment of islamophobia passed a constitutional amendment that bans courts from taking into account any form of shariah law (law based on the Islamic teachings); it was called “Save Our State.” Muneer Awad, executive director of the Oklahoma Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, sued. He sued on the basis of it violating the Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise Clause of First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (for those who don’t know, the federal constitution trumps state constitutions).

When the lawsuit was filed on November 4, 2010, pretty much immediately after voters approved it by 70% to 30% (sigh), the US District Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange issued a preliminary injunction on November 29, 2010, under the premise that the plaintiff was very likely to be successful and that harm would be done if the ban was in effect until the case was resolved.

The amendment was pretty clear:

The judge wrote in her order that “it is abundantly clear that the primary purpose of the amendment was to specifically target and outlaw Sharia law and to act as a preemptive strike against Sharia law to protect Oklahoma from a perceived ‘threat’ of Sharia law being utilized in Oklahoma courts.” …

She noted that “the public debate, public discussions, articles, radio ads and robocalls” regarding SQ 755 all primarily and overwhelmingly focused on Sharia law. “Given this context, the court finds any reasonable voter would have perceived SQ 755 as a referendum on Sharia law,” she wrote.

Of course, the “threat” from Shariah law is non-existant also due to the First Amendment to the US Constitution. The Amendment was in search of a problem that did not exist, could not legally exist, and served to single out a certain religion du jour:

Ryan Kiesel, executive director of the ACLU of Oklahoma, issued a written statement saying: “This law unfairly singled out one faith and one faith only. This amendment was nothing more than a solution in search of a problem. We’re thrilled that it has been struck down.”

I think that the commenter “Arch” put it very well on WND, though he earned only 2 up-votes and 3 down-votes for it:

Let me preface this by saying I think Sharia law is horrible, archaic, and anti-woman. It’s a disgusting system of legal codes.

That said, I *think* I understand the logic here:

1. First Amendment says that you have freedom of religion.

2. Say two consenting adults do something like say they want their estate handled based on Sharia precepts. Freedom of religion says they should be able to do that, right?

3. But they wouldn’t be able to under the Oklahoma ban.

4. Therefore, they no longer have freedom of religion, so it had to be tossed as unconstitutional.

Let’s take the above example and replace “Sharia” with “Talmudic.” There are some Orthodox Jewish rules that I think are also horrible, archaic, and anti-woman. But, if two people want to sign a document that says they want their estate and funeral rights in accordance with the Talmud, then they wouldn’t be able to if Oklahoma passed the exact same amendment, just banning Jewish law instead of Sharia.

So long as the legal precepts that they want to use don’t conflict with US law, they should be able to do it, otherwise you’re interfering with their religion which violates the First Amendment.

Does that make sense? Or am I missing something?

Many people responded. Every response contrary to Arch’s (which were all but one or two) were pretty much exactly along the same theme: Islam = Muslim = Shariah. According to WND commenters, there is no difference. No one actually directly addressed Arch’s points, instead choosing to respond with further fear- and hate-motivated non sequitur, and likely willful misunderstandings. Despite Arch’s follow-up:

I don’t disagree that Islam has demonstrated remarkable violence in our present-day world and many islamic countries are very “trigger happy” when it comes to insulting their religion. Remember though that people do very violent and horrible things in the name of pretty much every religion (Catholic Spanish Inquisition, Orthodox Jews stoning women because they wouldn’t move to the back of a bus).

But, the legal codes based in a religion are a separate issue and the First Amendment I thought clearly applies here that the government can make no law respecting one religion over another, and the converse as well — making laws against one religion and not others. I think my example still stands, again unless I’m missing something.

I’m not trying to start an argument here over whether one religion makes people more violent than another, I’m just trying to understand this decision with respect to freedom of people to follow the rules laid forth in their religion of choice and the courts respecting that.

Meanwhile, the top-rated comments are fairly expected. “cmblake6” with 34 up and 1 down vote stated: “Sha(t)ria law is not American law. Therefore anyone who “declared it unconstitutional” must be removed from the American Court System.”

“HopalongCassidy” with 22 up and 0 down has: “Is this judge out of his mind? Sharia is not American law and has no place whatsoever in the US judicial system. This judge needs to be impeached and removed from the bench !”

Of course, we throw in conspiracy for good measure, with “wearyconservative1946” responding: “Unless I’ve been misinformed, this judge isn’t a he. SHE’S a black woman which to me, poses the question of whether or not she’s a member of the black muslim movement involved in the take over and re-establishment of the United States as a 6th or 7th century nation of pagan, uncivilized, savages.”

Ah, racism and islamophobia with conspiracy, all wrapped into two hate-filled sentences!

Updated August 23, 2013: On August 20, Joseph Farah devoted his own column to this: “Shariah Law: Protected by Constitution?” Same basic stuff as the above, but thought I’d give the update.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s