Holy Week, Holy Shariah?

I find it ironic that in his commentary “Holy Week, Holy Shariah” for Townhall.com, former action movie star turned pundit Chuck Norris (his byline says “columnist and impossible to kill”) reminds us we need to be afraid (be very afraid) of religious influence creeping into our American legal system. Is Norris just another Hollywood apologist for Christian-hating secular humanists and the ACLU (American Communist License Unlimited)?

Not quite! Norris opens his piece with the following set up…

As most Americans have done since our republic’s inception, millions of us across the country this Holy Week will commemorate the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. But what concerns me in America is not only the growing disdain for Christian sentiment but also the increasing spread of Shariah…There’s no mystery that radical Islamists intend to use the freedoms in our Constitution to expand the influence of Shariah. But still, too many Americans don’t know or understand how it threatens the very fabric of our republic. So I’ve decided to do a series on how Shariah is seeping into American society.

My mom, the consummate political animal (see my piece “Politics 101”), always advised me to “respect your adversary”, including understanding how that adversary frames their arguments in the marketplace of ideas. To that end I somehow stumbled on to a daily email feed from Townhall.com several months ago, and have been checking out the featured commentaries ever since. What I am consistently noting is that most of the conservative commentators that appear in this publication seem to have the “Glenn Beck Syndrome”, and present everything with fear-based arguments. It is the rare contributor that has something to say that is not based on that context of fear.

As an aside, I suspect many of my fellow progressives would say that fear-mongering is inseparable from conservative thought, but I have spent years listening to the weekly KCRW (public radio) show, “Left, Right and Center”, that has featured more thoughtful thinkers from the right like David Frum, whose positions I respect though I often disagree with.

But Townhall.com apparently presents more tabloid fare with kinship to Chicken Little of “The sky is falling!” fame. Chuck Norris fits right in, and in this piece urges us to be afraid that an alien religion (Islam) is infecting US law and legal practice that we all should know is based on a friendly (Christian) religion. He details some horrific practices in parts of the world, including stoning women for adultery, that the stone-throwers justify based on the Quran and Sunna (Islamic custom), and implies that as an Islamic community grows in the US these practices are soon to follow.

I for one believe that these practices are more about the continuation of ancient patriarchal custom and practice justified under the guise of religion, just like infidel-killing Crusades and witch-burning Inquisitions were once justified as consistent with the Christian faith. (See my piece “Religion is not the Problem, Patriarchy is”.) Though it does scare me a little that there seem to be a significant number of Americans who can’t seem to get enough of gangsters and Mafioso and their violent bald-faced patriarchal practice.

Though Norris does not explicitly say the US is a “Christian country”, he certainly implies that when he starts his piece saying…

As most Americans have done since our republic’s inception, millions of us across the country this Holy Week will commemorate the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

And I get tired of people on the right beating the dead horse of concern for, as Norris phrases it, “growing disdain for Christian sentiment”. Nowhere in the world do religious people have it as good as in the US, with our long-standing secular law guaranteeing freedom of religion! Just look at European history and once “Christian countries” like France (Catholic) and Great Britain (Anglican/Protestant) which are now way more secular as a result, since people have a tendency to rebel against state religions.

From where I stand, we have secular law in our country that we have crafted and continue to fine tune informed by many other legal traditions both foreign (Napoleonic Code) and domestic (Iroquois Law), secular (English Common Law) and religious (Ten Commandments). The beauty of a pluralistic secular democracy is that it can pull “best practices” from a range of sources to create a legal framework that is both pragmatic and idealistic.

That said, I’m concerned about practitioners of any religion, including Christianity or Islam, claiming they have a “higher law” than the secular body of law that our country has worked for over two centuries to craft.

And the final irony of Norris’ piece is when he calls out efforts around the country which he presumably sees as consistent with his argument, including alerting us that…

Alabama is joining a growing list of states that are considering outlawing the use of foreign and religious laws, specifically Shariah, in their courts.

So I guess if passed, in Alabama the Ten Commandments are definitely out, and that European stuff too (English Common Law and Napoleonic Code), and real American Iroquois legal wisdom will finally get its due.

Norris concludes…

In the end, it seems to me we have a choice to believe that Shariah is or is not a pro-Islamic system of civic, religious, moral and social laws that is being used to run other countries and governments but that should not be invoked to run ours based upon the belief that our constitutional republic is inferior.

I agree… at least with the part that America is all about having choices.

Not convinced yet by Norris’ argument? Then stay tuned for his upcoming pieces…

“3 Ways Most Americans Enable Shariah,” “The Top 10 U.S. Shariah Infiltrations,” “Shariah vs. The U.S. Constitution” and “Shariah vs. Biblical Law in the U.S.”

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