Monday, July 18, 2011

Herman Cain: Jews and Christians Should Not Have Religious Freedom

     Oh that's not what he said? Oh yea, instead he said on Fox News that Muslims should not have freedom of religion because Islam is not protected in the First Amendment. This is because, in his mind, Islam melds together "church and state" with its application of Sharia law, something that our Constitution does not allow. 

     Robert Stacey McCain has an exclusive video of Herman Cain elaborating on his Fox News comments, video which can be found below or at -  Video: Herman Cain Talks Mosques, Sharia, and the Muslim Brotherhood

     These comments by Herman Cain demonstrate not only an ignorance regarding Sharia law and the proper reach and role of the First Amendment, but also sets a very dangerous precedent for those who come from minority religions (like myself). The latter precedent is actually why I titled my post the way that I did, because a restriction upon Judaism and Christianity is completely justified using Cain's logic. Why? Because both of these religions have their own legal and political codes contained in their respective religious practices. Judaism has halacha law and its own rabbinical court system - known as a beth din. Christianity has movements within it, such as the Seven Mountains movement and Christian Dominionism, both of which assert that the United States must be under the rule of Christians who rule using Biblical law rather than the Constitution. Many Christian denominations also have Church Courts which can exercise power regarding religious matters. 

     Why are these examples from Judaism and Christianity relevant? Many will say that most individuals who ascribe to Dominion theology or halacha law do so only to order their personal religious life - not to subvert the U.S. Constitution. Quite true, and this is where Cain's fundamental misunderstanding of Sharia law comes from. Sharia is not a "monolithic" legal system, there are varying interpretations of such law - ranging from moderate personal religious observances (such as fasting, who and who you cannot marry) to the rigid system used by the Taliban (death penalty for homosexuality and adultery). For Cain to assert that "Sharia Law" as a whole is a danger to the American way of life is as ridiculous as attempting to show that the Rabbinical Laws of Judaism are a danger to the United States (Interesting side note, the beth dins of Judaism to enjoy legal standing in U.S. Courts when it comes to religious matters). Sharia law, when used in the ordering of ones personal and religious life, is completely compatible with American values, just like Christian and Rabbinical religious laws. Additionally, it is just as appropriate for the American legal system to give leniency to decisions made in Islamic religious courts (just like they do with Christian and Jewish ones, as long as those practices do not violate established U.S. law.)

     In the end, Sharia law is not the threat to American values or democracy. The real threat is individuals, such as Mr. Cain, who use those who are different - like Muslims - to further their own political agenda. Demonizing an unfamiliar group does not allow for mutual respect or understanding, and only inflames the passions of an emotional populous. We can only look to historical examples - such as the Holocaust and the Japanese Interments of WW2- to understand where such demonizing ends. 

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