Monday, April 13, 2015
I recently learned that a good friend of mine is worried that Muslims in America are going to implement Sharia Law. Notwithstanding that most conservatives don't know what Sharia Law actually entails (I suspect my friend does, as he's pretty intelligent), this is a long-debunked conservative idea that Muslims are gaining the power to institute Islamic religious law in the United States.
Let's take a closer look, shall we?
First and foremost, the Constitution of the United States forbids the establishment of religious law. It's that whole pesky First Amendment thing. So the issue is a non-starter. However, upholding the Constitutional separation of church and state requires a vigorous judiciary, and religious laws have made their way into United States law before and continue to do so, so let's assume that the judges are all out to lunch and we can ignore the Constitution.
The current U.S. population is approximately 320 million people. Religion-wise, that roughly breaks down into 73% Christian, 20% unaffiliated, 1.7% Jewish, 0.6% Muslim and a smattering of others. 0.6% Muslim means there are approximately 1.9 million Muslims. All of them don't want to institute Sharia Law, it's likely that a vast majority don't, but for purposes of this, we'll assume that ALL of them do. That's 1.9 million pushing for Sharia Law out of 320 million people.
What about political power? There are currently two Muslims in the United States Congress, the only two ever elected. There are no Muslim governors and only a few state representatives. So formal, institutional political power is lacking. Do we expect a wave of Muslims elected to public office any time soon? (Oh, are we counting the President as a Muslim? Wink, wink. Got it.)
What about social power? Do we even need to discuss this one? What social power do Muslims have in the United States? Whenever a Muslim sneezes in America, there are more anti-Muslim Americans peeing their pants than there are actual Muslims in America. The idea that any sort of "Sharia Law" would even be considered without being attacked by millions of Christian conservative watchdogs is absurd. (Not to mention that liberals and pretty much everyone else except those 1.9 million would also be against Sharia Law).
Meanwhile, Christians, who represent a large majority of Americans, and have a correspondingly large majority of every political body in America, from the lowest city and county governments to the Congress and Supreme Court, are actively pushing religious laws in America every single day. Whether it's the increasingly strident regulation of abortion, the anti-civil liberties policies regarding LGBT individuals, or the decades-long fight against evolution and enforcing Christian prayer in schools, Christians are constantly pushing their distinctly religious-based laws onto the rest of us.
I'm much more worried about Christian extremism than the exceedingly remote possibility that an insignificant minority, with no social or political power, is somehow going to dominate American politics and institute their particular form of religious oppression. I want none of it and the best way to fight religious intrusion into our laws is to not ignore the Christian elephant in the room over the non-existent Muslim threat.