The Myth of Sharia Law in America

Now, before I begin, I want to stress that I do not equate the following people with all Christians, nor am I arguing that their beliefs and actions are indicative of Christianity as whole; however, they have a significant following and are public figures, which makes their words and deeds a potential danger to our society as a whole.

There has been much talk, exaggerated and down-right crazy talk, among a number of uber-conservative “Christians,” from politicians like Michelle Bachmann to religious mouth-pieces like Pat Robertson, that Islamic Sharia Law is being imposed upon Americans. You see, what I find most ironic, in the disturbing sort of way, about such claims is that it is not the Muslims who are trying to implement some sort of religio-fascist law on America; rather, it is uber-conservative, pseudo-Christians, like Bachmann and Robertson, who are actually trying to do that very thing. Let’s look at some of the things these people advocate, shall we?

1) Anti-feminism: According to many uber-right wingers and pseudo-Christians, “radical” feminism is destroying America. Basically, women should, for the sake of their country, just recognize and accept that men, in many cases, are superior to them and should focus first and foremost on being what God intended them to be, wives and mothers. According to Teapublican darling, Michelle Bachmann, and CBN founder, Pat Robertson, one of the worst things about Sharia Law, and Islam in general, is the anti-woman stance it supposedly has. Yet, many of these “Sharia Law” decriers advocate limiting women’s rights. For example:

a) Keeping women out of combat: In Muslim nations where what we call Sharia Law (which, by the way, is not exactly what we think it to be — see links #1 below), like Saudi Arabia and Eritrea, women are kept from doing a number of things from driving to joining the military to even enjoying sex (see link #2 — warning, it’s disturbing). None of this is actually supported by the Qu’ran; in fact, some of Islam’s most important warrior heroes were women. Furthermore, the Qu’ran teaches that women should be educated in the same way as men, and that sexual pleasure is a must for both husbands and wives (see links #3; for a searchable on-line Qu’ran, see link #4). There are many people on the right-wing who advocate barring American women from combat, from Robert Bork, who wrote, “Slouching Towards Gomorrah: Modern Liberalism and American Decline,” to columnist and political pundit, Kate O’ Briene, to Pat Robertson himself (see links #5). This stance against women in combat roles is not unlike the “Sharia Law” some people on the right seem to fear so deeply.

b) Redefining rape to limit women’s reproductive rights: We’ve all heard of the shining piece of crazy turned legislation, HR3, entitled “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act,” which passed the GOP controlled House last month (see links #6). Uber-right wingers, such as Chris Smith (R-NJ), who sponsored the bill, and *every* conservative in the House (all Republicans and 16 conservatives Democrats—oxymoron, I know) voted to draw a line of distinction between forcible rape and statutory rape; or “didn’t ask for it, entirely,” vs. “asked for it.” I put it in this way because, essentially, that is the distinction being made here. The former, “forcible rape,” refers only to those incidents of rape in which a woman is beaten and/or held at gun or knife point. Whereas the latter, “statutory rape,” refers to all incidents of rape in which the victim knows or is acquainted with her attacker(s) and/or was drugged or coerced, even verbally threatened with physical violence, by her attacker(s); this includes “date rape” and incidents of incest. This attempt by the uber-conservatives to redefine rape is nothing more than a thinly veiled attempt to re-victimize the victim by not only making the victim take the blame for happened to her, “well, maybe you shouldn’t have gotten drunk” or “maybe you shouldn’t have been dressed like that,” and by forcing her to carry to term a pregnancy that was forced upon her. Rape, no matter how people (namely men) who have never endured it choose to try and define it, is a very traumatic experience for the victim. To tell a woman, no matter her age, that she wasn’t raped enough to qualify for a medical procedure is not only immoral, it’s inhuman. Furthermore, regardless of how any of us feels about abortion, it is a deeply personal and emotional decision. When a woman has to make that decision, she agonizes over it, she’s scared, and she’s usually in some kind of distressing situation: she’s too young, she’s too poor, she’s on her own with no one to help her, she’s been raped, she has health problems. Limiting a woman’s access to abortion services, especially by redefining rape, is not going to stop abortions, it is only going to make them more dangerous. This latest assault by the uber-right wing/pseudo-Christians on women’s reproductive rights is, in every way, exactly like the anti-woman stance of Sharia Law against which so many of them pretend to rail.

c) Women should dress with men’s lust in mind: We have all seen the images of women from Afghanistan or Saudi Arabia donning the burqua, the head to toe cover-up so often associated with Sharia Law. The point to such extreme dress codes within ultra-conservative Muslim countries, which is an exaggeration of the dress code for which the prophet Muhammad actually calls in the Qu’ran, is because it is believed that the mere sight of even a woman’s wrist could lead men into uncontrollable lust. This claim is not unique to those Muslims who support forcing women to wear the burqua, in fact many Christians, even some who consider themselves fairly liberal, argue that women should be more mindful of how they dress so as to not provoke the lust of men (see links #7). Telling a woman that it is her responsibility to prevent men’s lust by covering herself as much as she can is nothing more than a means by which to absolve the man of his own responsibility to learn to control his own urges. The argument being made by the preacher in the article from jezebel.com , and those who think like him, is that if a man looks upon a woman with lust it’s because she dressed in way that made him do so. Again, this sounds an awful lot like the anti-Woman stance of the supposedly nigh Sharia Law.

2) Preventing Same-sex Relations in General: As with any of the Abrahamic traditions, and most other present-day religions, homosexuality if frowned upon in Islam, regardless of the interpretation of Sharia Law. Christianity has been no different; although not all modern Christians advocate homophobia or are anti-gay/lesbian, nor do all Muslims or Jews or Hindus, etc. However, as a whole most present-day religious traditions teach that being gay/lesbian is a sin. In extremely conservative Muslim nations, where rigid interpretations of Sharia Law are enforced, being gay/lesbian will not only prevent you from entering into certain social institutions, like marriage or military service; it is punishable by imprisonment and/or death. Now, while no one, of whom I am aware, on the far right has advocated the death penalty for same-sex relations, they do advocate barring same-sex couples from being able to marry, adopt children, serve in the military, and a number of them even advocate bringing back anti-sodomy laws (see links #8). 

3) No Secularism: Many uber-right wing and pseudo-Christians have, once again, begun pushing for the Christian state. According to the likes of Michelle Bachmann, Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, Pat Toomey, and Pat Robertson, America is a Christian nation. From the first days at Plymouth Rock to the framing of the Constitution, Christianity is the law of the land according to them. Never mind that the word “God” is never mentioned in the Constitution and, while we are at it, let us just ignore the anti-establishment clause and the promise of religious freedom as laid out in the First Amendment or the fact that the Treaty of Tripoli of 1797 explicitly states that “the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion.” Clearly, despite this evidence and a plethora of others, America is a Christian nation. This is exactly the kind of Sharia Law they claim to oppose: code of conduct and/or laws based upon religious teachings (see links #9). The only difference is that the version they support is based (somewhat loosely) upon the Judeo-Christian Bible rather than the Qu’ran. Nevertheless, forced adherence to religiously derived law is forced adherence to religiously derived law no matter how you try to cut it. 

4) No Democracy: We hear it said by the extreme right all the time, Muslim extremists and supporters of Sharia Law hate Democracy and will stop at nothing to prevent it. Wait a minute…this sounds awfully familiar. Didn’t Michigan governor, Rick Snyder, just sign a law which, under the guise of fixing the budget, dissolves democratically elected local governments? Yes, he did. Furthermore, the GOP in several states is attempting to place restrictions on citizen participation in the democratic process by implementing voter ID schemes (see links #10).

My point here, should anyone have misunderstood, is not to claim that religio-fascist laws are coming to America beyond a shadow of doubt, rather it is to point out the hypocrisy of these Islamaphobes. In reality most, if not everything, they claim to fear about Sharia Law are things that they actually support; from limiting the freedom to marry to controlling the lives of women, the “Christian” extreme-right have far more in common with extremist Muslims (not to be confused with all Muslims) than they care to admit. Furthermore, there is a real if only marginal threat here, one that we should not ignore: The “Christian” right honestly believes, of that I have no doubt, the things they say. They truly believe that same-sex marriage, abortion, and secularism are destroying America, despite the fact that the latter is the basis of our Constitution. They honestly want a nation whose laws are based upon their interpretation of the Bible. For these reasons we should not dismiss them as merely stupid or crazy, nor should we underestimate their determination to remake America in their own image. Islamic Sharia Law is not coming to America, not if the “Christian” right have any say in it; rather, if they had their way, we’d all be living under a forced religious state of their imagining.

Sources :
1) http://www.religioustolerance.org/islsharia.htm
http://www.cfr.org/religion/islam-governing-under-sharia/p8034

2) http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs241/en/

3) http://www.dhushara.com/book/zulu/islamp/brooks/nine.htm

http://books.google.com/books?id=AEF6t0wDRKQC&pg=PA20&lpg= PA20&dq=women+warriors+in+islam&source=bl&ots= IQoWUdfNPT&sig=czOBJC5eTXEebkCJ0ubEPgCAAFU&hl= en&ei=GwTtTZDkB8TJgQeVoe3YCQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct= result&resnum=10&sqi=2&ved=0CF4Q6AEwCQ#v=onepage&q=women%20warriors%20in%20islam&f=false

4) http://www.usc.edu/schools/college/crcc/engagement/resources/texts/muslim/quran/

5) http://paloverdevalleytimes.com/main.asp?SectionID=36&SubsectionID=73&ArticleID=15478
http://www.rightwingnews.com/interviews/kateo.php
http://www.mediaite.com/tv/pat-robertson-liberal-women-get-abortions-to-get-on-level-playing-field-with-lesbians/

6) http://motherjones.com/politics/2011/04/redefine-rape-hr-3-abortion-stealth

http://thinkprogress.org/politics/2011/05/04/163656/house-gop-hr3/

7) http://jezebel.com/5788765/christian-men-beg-women-not-to-dress-like-sluts

http://www.achristianhome.org/ModestFeminine/ModestyFeminineAttireIndex.htm

http://www.twopaths.com/faq_dress.htm

http://traciscottage.com/2006/04/21/modest-dress-christian-femininity/

http://bibleforums.org/showthread.php/132715-Women-should-dress-modestly

8) http://www.politicususa.com/en/bachmann-gay-light-bulbs

http://bible.org/article/homosexuality-christian-perspective

http://www.alternet.org/sex/103041/conservatives_push_hard_for_gay_marriage_ban/

http://motherjones.com/mojo/2011/04/map-has-your-state-banned-sodomy

http://videogoneviral.com/2011/01/rick-santorum-makes-really-strange-racial-comment-but-hes-totally-anti-gay/

http://www.atheistnexus.org/forum/topics/pat-robertson-misses-the-good-1

http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/j/jerry_falwell.html

9) http://www.cfr.org/religion/islam-governing-under-sharia/p8034

http://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/bar1796t.asp

http://www.usconstitution.net/constnot.html#god

http://www.usconstitution.net/xconst_Am1.html

http://www.politicususa.com/en/theocrat-sarah-palin

http://www.baptiststandard.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=12554&Itemid=53

10) http://detroit.cbslocal.com/2011/03/17/gov-snyder-on-efm-bill-and-more/

http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/05/12/us-wisconsin-voter-id-idUSTRE74B0WR20110512

http://www.texasobserver.org/component/k2/item/17879-voter-id-signed-into-law

© Karen Lyn and Take Back America, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Karen Lyn and Take Back America with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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2 responses to “The Myth of Sharia Law in America

  1. Pingback: The Decline of Nationalism and the Rise of Right-wing Extremism | Take Back America

  2. Pingback: The Plague of Fear | Take Back America

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