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Islam, America, and Religious Freedom

Islam is an un-American religion.

By Petrarch  |  August 13, 2010

Ever since the horror of 9-11, Islam has been a highly charged topic.  Anything involving the death by immolation and defenestration of three thousand innocent office workers, to say nothing of watching kidnapped journalists getting their heads chopped off on TV or doctors machine-gunned on a mercy mission for being non-Muslim, is bound to be deeply emotional; at the same time, religious liberty has been one of the United States' most deeply held foundational beliefs since long before its founding.

Indeed, on the specific subject of Islam, none other than Thomas Jefferson regarded Virginia's 1786 Statute for Religious Freedom as being intended

... to comprehend, within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mahomedan, the Hindoo, and Infidel of every denomination. [emphasis added]

So there you have it: Religious liberty applies equally to Muslims as to anyone else.  Right?

No.  It doesn't, and cannot, for a very good reason that Jefferson didn't fully understand in 1786 but was forcibly made aware of later in life:  Islam as an organized religion and Muslims in particular do not accept religious liberty.

Freedom to Disagree

The precise definition of what religion is can be a little slippery, but one defining characteristic is that religions deal with the intangible, the immortal, and the invisible.  God or gods rarely walk the earth shaking hands or signing autographs; generally you have to take their existence on faith.  Reward and punishment for one's good or evil deeds is never guaranteed on this earth in this life; the balance is meted out in judgment after death, or sometimes in reincarnation as someone or something else.

The need for an unprovable afterlife of some kind is pretty obvious: this life manifestly does not provide justice.  We all know honest, decent people who live unfortunate lives of poverty and ill health; we all know of evil, wicked people living lives of wealth and power, many of them in Congress or the Senate and at least a few on the Supreme Court.

Is this fair?  No religious ethical system believes it to be so; all proclaim that necessary adjustments will be made after we're dead.

Trouble arises because the precise definitions and rules differ.  Fundamentalist Protestants believe that individual, personal faith is the key deciding factor; a good and decent person who rejects Jesus Christ will wind up in Hell, whereas a debauched murderer like the Thief on the Cross next to Jesus can accept Him at the last possible second and skin into Heaven without doing one single good deed in his life.

Catholics, on the other hand, require good deeds from everyone or penance in Purgatory; Unitarians believe everyone goes to Heaven regardless.  The differences become wider the further away you get from Judeo-Christian tradition.

By definition, none of these systems can be proven right or wrong, but they can't all be right; most are pretty much mutually exclusive.  Either there is a Hell or there is not; either there is one God, several, or none.

Throughout history, national leaders have often tried to decree what their subjects' religion shall be, like it or not.  This has led to more wars and fiercer ones than almost any other cause.  If you truly think you'll burn for eternity in Hellfire, no power on earth can make you change your mind, and if someone's going to kill you for it you may as well fight back.

Our Founding Fathers promoted a simple solution to this problem: stop trying to force people to change what they believe.  Persuade, sure; beseech, picket, beg, preach.  But nothing more.  They recognized that each individual person must have full freedom of conscience - otherwise, religious-based civil strife is inevitable.

From those days to now, America has suffered many disagreements but almost no violent religious ones.  So long as each religion does its own thing and lets others do the same, we all get along and nobody much minds.

Which is precisely the problem with Islam: By its core beliefs, it cannot and will not leave non-Muslims alone.

The Right to Be Wrong

What characterizes the religious life of Islamic countries?  The answer is expressed by the very name "Islamic countries" - they are called that because there is almost nothing else there.  Preaching any religion other than Islam is forbidden in Saudi Arabia, Iran, and others; Malaysia prohibits non-Islamic religions from using their language's word for "God", and forbids anyone to leave Islam once they're in regardless of changed beliefs.  Virtually every nation with a Muslim majority has an overwhelming majority, with other religions restricted to secretive and heavily-suppressed practice at best.

This is the difference between Islam and everything else: all other religions may consider nonbelievers to be wrong and under the wrath of God, but they acknowledge the right of every individual to make that choice.

Christian churches may expel apostates and pray for their souls, but they don't try to drag them back by force.

In bygone centuries Catholics used to, but recent Popes have abjectly apologized for those past sins and no modern Catholic from the Pope on down would countenance such behavior for a moment.

Jews, of course, have always recognized the legitimate existence of non-Jews, seeing as being born a Jew is practically the only way to become one.  Buddhists might figure you'll be reincarnated as a mosquito, but that's not their problem, it's yours.

As we have extensively documented, Islam accepts no such right of belief.  Islam claims not merely the right but the obligation to force people into submission to the will of Allah - whether it be by conversion or by subservient dhimmitude, whichever is most feasible at the moment.

In what way is religious liberty preserved by allowing a religion whose whole purpose is to destroy everyone else's religious liberty?  Americans have freedom of movement, but we put people in jail when they violate others' rights.  Americans have the right to bear arms, but not the right to shoot people they don't like.  Americans have the free-speech right to say that someone else is wrong, but not (generally) the right to physically force them to shut up.

We talk of American liberties, but they all have their limits.  As the saying goes, "My freedom to swing my arms stops at the end of your nose."

Exactly the same is true for religion.  To be a religion acceptable in America, it doesn't matter what you believe or teach so long as you fully accept one simple doctrine:

You must acknowledge other people's right to be wrong and to go to Hell in their own way and in God's own time.

You, the religious holy-roller going to paradise, can do nothing about it other than argue with them and try to persuade them to change.

If you accept this principle, then you are a religion acceptable in the United States with all the rights and privileges pertaining thereto.

If you cannot accept that principle, however, if your religion requires you to force others to convert, then you are no religion, at least not in the American sense.  Instead, you are the subject of an enemy power dedicated to the destruction of the rights contained in the Constitution (by definition) and should be treated as such.

Devout Muslim = Devoted Traitor

All religious people claim allegiance to a Higher Power of some sort, whether it be God or the Universal Force.  When the commands of that Higher Power directly are dedicated to the destruction of the nation in which that person lives, though, what is that person other than a traitor?

Nazism was an ideology dedicated to the destruction of American freedom.  True-blue Nazis swore allegiance to Adolf Hitler.

When Hitler declared war on the United States, how could it be possible for a Nazi to be a loyal American?  It couldn't - you had to choose one or the other.

Dedicated Communists, by the definition of Karl Marx, are committed to the worker's revolution and the dictatorship of the proletariat.  By Marx's explanation, this inherently involves the violent overthrow of the state; by definition that is treason, and we treated active Communists as the traitors they were during the Cold War.

How are devout Muslims any different?  They swear loyalty to an external Higher Power (Allah) as all religious do, but that particular Higher Power has given specific commands that are a clear and present danger to American domestic peace and stability.

Seen in this light, the 9-11 Mosque is not just a place of worship for a religion.  It is a training ground for enemy soldiers.

Would we allow a Nazi training camp in Idaho?  Oh, that's right - we don't.

Are there devout Muslims who are also loyal Americans?  Well, were there Nazis who were also loyal Americans in 1942?  No - any American who had Nazi sympathies had to make a choice and fast.

Someday Islam may mature to the point where it acknowledges the separation of church and state and the right of other (evil, wicked, Allah-defying) religions to exist.  Then, and only then, can Muslims and their mosques be welcomed into a free country.

Until then, we need to remember what Thomas Jefferson wrote, not that long after his remarks on religious freedom, about the explanation of the Muslim Tripolitan ambassador when asked by what right his Muslim nation captured and enslaved American sailors on the high seas:

The ambassador answered us that [the right] was founded on the Laws of the Prophet, that it was written in their Koran, that all nations who should not have answered their authority were sinners, that it was their right and duty to make war upon them wherever they could be found, and to make slaves of all they could take as prisoners, and that every Mussulman who should be slain in battle was sure to go to Paradise. [emphasis added]

As long as the religion of Islam believes this, the religion of Islam is an enemy, and anyone who holds to its evil creed is the subject of an enemy power and a traitor.

Muslims who feel otherwise need to say so, loudly - not just with their words but with their actions.  It's time and past time for a Muslim Reformation - but really what it needs is a total split between those who, like the Catholic Inquisition, feel barbarism and oppression to be their religious duty, and those who don't.

Until then, only a fool would give the inspiration, source, and driving force behind suicide bombers the benefit of the doubt, much less the slightest toehold on our soil. Unfortunately, we have a government of fools.