Saturday, June 26, 2010

Keeping Oklahoma Safe from Islamic Law

For those of you who haven’t heard the news, legislators here in the great state of Oklahoma (apparently not wishing to be outdone by political weirdness in other states) have now approved a ballot measure that would amend the state constitution so as to prohibit judges from making rulings based on Islamic “Sharia” Law.

Although Muslims comprise less than 1% of the population of Oklahoma, and although Oklahoma is in the Bible Belt where the real risk is that Levitical Law will be enforced from the bench, and although there has never been even the remotest rumbling of a hint of a risk of Sharia law guiding judicial decisions in this state—despite all of this, it is apparently of vital significance for securing Oklahoma’s future that the state take a strong “pre-emptive” stand against Sharia law...apparently in order to discourage “liberal activists” from trying to legitimate it (since we all know how common it is for those ACLU liberals to try to circumvent church-state separation).

At first, of course, I found the whole thing absurd. Since there isn't even the remotest possibility that Oklahoma judges will be tempted to follow Sharia law from the bench, let alone think they can get away with it, it seemed to me that devoting a constitutional amendment to the issue was really just a way of expressing an ideological opposition to Islam. But as I think more about it, it occurs to me that the legislators responsible for this proposed constitutional amendment may be onto something after all.

Of course, there would be no risk of Sharia law guiding judicial decisions were one in a state where the principle of separation of church and state is strongly upheld. But maybe these legislators realize that Oklahoma is not such a state. Maybe they realize it because they are the very ones who have been laboring so long and hard to eviscerate this principle in the great state of Oklahoma, so as to better enable state legislators and judges to impose biblical morality on Oklahoma citizens.

And they are suddenly fearful that their achievements in this area come with a cost. With church-state separation out the window, what is to stop other religions from imposing their sectarian concept of justice on the people of Oklahoma? After all, only Christians should be free to force everyone to live by their sectarian principles. But since U.S. founding principles enshrine equality for all—including on the basis of religion—what happens when a state passes a constitutional amendment enshrining legal discrimination against gays and lesbians, even though such discrimination cannot reasonably be justified by any non-sectarian principle? What we have here is a state that has written legal discrimination into its constitution based on prevailing Christian doctrine--in other words, it has written into its constitution a practice that presupposes the legitimacy of imposing sectarian religious convictions on everyone regardless of their faith (or lack thereof). Because of this anti-gay constitutional amendment, the rejection of church-state separation has been implicitly written into the very constituition of the state of Oklahoma. And if that's the case, but there's still this impulse towards religious equality, what's going to stop those danged liberals from insisting that if Christians are free to use judicial power to impose their sectarian morality on everyone, then Muslims should be free to do the same?

While religious parity might be achieved by trying to restore a strong separation of church and state, doing so would impose inconvenient impediments on the efforts of Oklahoma Christians to pursue their God-given right to use the law to persecute gays and lesbians. While it is true that Sharia law would also call for the persecution of gays and lesbians, Oklahomans are firm in their commitment that when a sexual minority is to be subjected to discriminatory laws in the great state of Oklahoma, the discrimination should be justified by Bible quotes, not Koranic ones.

And even if the risk of the latter may seem low with such a tiny Muslim population in Oklahoma, one can never be too careful...especially now that the very President of the Unites States is a Muslim.

Oh, wait. Nevermind.

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