I really need to apologize to conservatives. For years I mockingly dismissed those on the right who warned us that that “sharia law” was coming to America. But I was wrong. As they predicted, extremists living amongst us are hell-bent on imposing laws based on their religious texts. And now they have succeeded, bigly. Sharia law has indeed come to America – Christian sharia that is.
This week we saw several examples of right wingers attempting to or succeeding at turning their religious scriptures and beliefs into American law. On Friday, the Trump administration took two big steps in this direction. First, they rolled back a federal requirement under the ACA that mandated employers who offer health insurance to cover birth control for their female employees. So now if an employer claims they have a religious based objection to providing women birth control, their female employees are denied coverage.
Look, it’s one thing to oppose birth control because of your religious views–but its far different to impose those beliefs on your employees regardless of their faith or beliefs. And that, in a nutshell, is “Christian sharia law.”
Next up, on Friday Attorney General Jeff Sessions directed federal agencies to review their regulations to see if they can expand protections for “religious liberty.” Critics note that Sessions apparent goal is to revise regulations as “a shield to permit discrimination against L.G.B.T.Q. Americans.” This again is an attempt by the right to have their extreme religious views enforced by our government.
But the worst example of Christian sharia was a new anti-LGBT Mississippi law that went into effect Friday. This law, referred to by some as “Turn away the gays,” is explicitly based on religious scripture. For example, Section 2 of the law states that, “Marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman.” And then the law goes to tell us, “Sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage.” This sounds like something out of the 1950’s but it’s not- it’s from the Bible and its simply conservatives turning their religious scripture into American law.
And this new law goes far beyond saying that a baker is not required to make a cake for a same sex couple. It allows foster care organizations and adoption agencies to “decline to provide any adoption or foster care service” for LGBT couples if they have a religious objection. And stunningly the law even provides that religious organizations can deny to sell or rent housing to an LGBT American if it violates the religious beliefs of the people who run the organization.
Advocates of these laws claim it’s all to protect “religious liberty.” Religious liberty in general should be protected. But let’s be blunt: when a far-right person uses the term “religious liberty” that is code for Christian sharia law. They are Christian supremacists who want our laws to be based on the Bible.
And here’s the thing: They have made it clear for years that is their very plan. For example, when Mike Huckabee was running for President in 2008 he told us point blank of his intention to impose Christian sharia: “I believe it’s a lot easier to change the Constitution than it would be to change the word of the living God.” Adding, “And that’s what we need to do is amend the Constitution so it’s in God’s standards rather than trying to change God’s standards so it lines up with some contemporary view.”
Then there was Rick Santorum in 2012 who again didn’t hide his Christian supremacist agenda: “Our civil laws have to comport with. A higher law. God’s law.” And now we have Alabama GOP U.S. Senate nominee Roy Moore who shared during his current campaign his love for a Christian theocracy: “I want to see virtue and morality returned to our country and God is the only source of our law, liberty and government.” And when Moore says “God” he means his version of a Christian God – not the God of other faiths as he has made very clear.
What’s hilariously ironic is that generally it’s the right wingers pushing for Christian sharia law who claim that American Muslims want to do the same thing. Of course, there are no incidents of American Muslims trying to turn the Quran into U.S. law.
All this has me rethinking my previous opposition to the right’s anti-Sharia law measures. To date, 15 states have enacted such laws banning what they deem “foreign” law – which is their less than subtle code for Islamic law. You see to these people, Islam is “foreign” to America but Jesus was born in Iowa, wrapped in an American flag and driven home in a pickup truck while Toby Keith was playing. They don’t get that all three Abrahamic faiths – Judaism, Islam and Christianity – are all technically foreign to this land and the only faiths not imported are those practiced by Native Americans.
But given the rise of Christian sharia law I’m now for a constitutional amendment to ban laws based on any religious scripture. We can all it the Thomas Jefferson amendment in that it will embrace his view that the First Amendment demands the “building a wall of separation between Church & State.”
If we don’t implement such protections, who knows what Biblical passages they will next want to turn into law – maybe stoning women to death who aren’t virgins on their wedding night? Or mandating that women learn in silence and not have “authority” over men?
We need to ensure that America is a nation where religious liberty is protected– but we must fight vigilantly to ensure our nation is not one where any religious text becomes the basis of our laws.
This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.