2015-03-26

American Muslim...?

Let me start off by saying I am fundamentally ignorant of Islam.  I am also relatively ignorant of constitutional law.  That being said, I have lived nearly my entire life here in the US and feel I have a pretty good understanding of how things are supposed to work, here in the US anyway.  Apart from that, I certainly have opinions about how things should work.  Here are some of them.

The United States is a Christan Nation:
First off, I hope not.  Christianity is a belief structure which has become a religion.  A Nation is a sovereign state, a political construct.  Our constitution has a statement in it which has been broken down into the "establishment clause" and the "free exercise clause".  Basically, no state sponsored religion, and freedom to express belief as one sees fit.(article 6).  Going beyond that, the 1st amendment and the 14th sort of hash out a few details in support of article 6.  To say we are a Christian Nation is to cross the line into very scary territory.  Once we do that, we are back to a situation that many of those that came here in the first place were attempting to get away from: State backed churches.

Christians are not so very special that they would not fall into the same habits that some of our European predecessor's did back in the good old days of, dare I say it?.. the Inquisition.  There are enough rich religious fruit-cakes out there who would love nothing more than to expand their power base by being able to segment our citizenship into convenient little groups of 'ok believers'' and 'heathens'.  Not something I am willing to give over to anyone!

The Separation of Church and State: 
To help prevent that we have the aforementioned clauses in the constitution along with some fairly indicative writings from folks like Jefferson who, while not irreligious themselves, did not like the idea of either encumbered or enforced faith.  And while they did not always agree on where the line was to be drawn, they seemed agree that there should be one.

In spite of all that, we seem to still struggle with the idea.  I am not talking about the stupid issues like refusing to say the pledge in schools because it mentions God.  Get the fuck over it.  Like saying it once a day is going to turn a kid into some raving evangelical freak.  On the flip side, demanding that creationism be taught in public schools is just as far over the line.  Get the fuck over it.  Like learning some science is going to turn a kid into some atheistic lunatic like Richard Dawkins.

What I am talking about is some of those issues which have been prevalent recently.  Recognizing gay marriage for example:  It is not up to the government to determine such things.  If one does not believe in it, then it is probably not a problem for said individual.  It quickly becomes a problem for such individuals and groups when they attempt to legislate their belief systems on those who might be affected.  In the long run, it is more of a problem for those who exclude than those who are excluded.  Think about it; Once such exclusionary laws are in place, then what happens when it is your son or daughter that must now live in exclusion.  Believe it or not, Christianity is not a medicine against being gay.  Writing a law that bans being gay is like writing a law that outlaws being born with blue eyes.  What comes next?

Well, then we write laws that say women belong at home taking care of children, that science is ok'ed by the church, that the church must have the final say over when to go to war, and then that they need their own military force.... followed by Christ being the head of state(who in physical absence is represented by someone politically savvy enough to rise through the ranks of church politics to stand in his place)... and now we have a Christian Nation... don't we?

Go ahead, but let me know ahead of time will you?  I would like the opportunity to move elsewhere should that become the norm.

Islam(as I am dimly familiar with it) and the Lack of Separation:
And therein lies the problem with the concept of an American Muslim.  As I understand it, (again, not very well) there is no question of separation between church and state in Islam:  There is no question, because the church is the head of state.  We have seen the radical elements of Islam for years now, and some of their claims of poor treatment by the West are valid.  For all I know, they may have valid reasons for their animosity toward Jews.  Those are not the problems, in spite of what the media, Western religious leaders, and snaky politicians on both sides of both ponds would have us believe.

The problem is very simple:  A belief system which insists it's laws are beyond the laws of our constitution simply must change in order to rightfully claim the title of American.  In this country, our laws may reflect certain beliefs, but they are not dictated by them.  And they best never be so.

There have been several attempts made by groups of Muslims to establish "parallel" community courts based on Sharia law which would have jurisdiction over and authority to exact judgement and punishment their community members.  They have sought to have these 'courts' acknowledged by state courts.  This must never happen, ever!

Therein lies the problem with the term American Muslim:  When Islam develops a system of beliefs compatible with our constitution, I will be comfortable with that term.  Until such time, my firm belief is that we, whether Christan, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, or Atheist or other, are Americans first.  Because unless we are Americans first, we will always be subject to one or another belief system imposing itself on the others.  And that is when we will no longer be Americans.

I apologise if my ignorance of Islam leads to inaccurate conclusions reflected above.  I am open to becoming more educated by someone more aware than I am.

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