Republican Presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson has come under heavy fire for his comments that a Muslim should never be trusted with the stewardship of the nation, and is now offering clarification, saying that ‘I think anybody, regardless of their religion [can be President], if they are willing to embrace the values and principles of America and our Constitution and subject their beliefs to the Constitution.’ Of course, the liberal media jumped all over him, accusing him of racism, Islamophobia, bigotry, and misunderstanding what Islam represents.
I agree with Carson completely, but I don’t limit it to Islam. Radical religious beliefs of any kind should never be used to govern a nation, which I think is exactly the point of the First Amendment: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. This means the government cannot tell you what religious beliefs you must embrace, and cannot promote one set of religious beliefs over another. It was intended to prevent various sects of Christianity from going to war with one another for control of the government, and to prevent the emergence of a theocracy.
I don’t care what people do in their personal lives. If you want to live according to a fundamental interpretation of the Koran, the Torah, the Old Testament, the Tripitaka, the Bhagavad-Gita, the Alkitab Alaqdas, the Tao-te-Ching, the writings of Ron Hubbard, you go for it. It’s none of my business. It doesn’t affect me.
Until it does.
If you practice a radical, fundamentalist form of any religion and attempt to impose those beliefs on others, you are not fit for the Oval Office, with one very important caveat. The fact that a belief is based in religion, rather than rationality, does not make that belief wrong. The perfect example is abortion. I am deeply opposed to abortion after a fetus evidences neural connections that indicate the presence of a conscious, sentient brain. It’s not a fetus anymore. It’s a human being. Other people are opposed to abortion on religious grounds: they believe life begins at conception, and killing is forbidden by God, therefore abortion is wrong. We both agree on abortion, but for very different reasons. It’s fine for someone to want to legally prohibit abortion based on their deeply held religious beliefs, but they must offer rational, non-religious justifications for doing so.
This is why I cannot support the county clerk who refuses to issue marriage licenses for gay couples. I don’t care what her personal beliefs are, and I do not agree that she should be forced to go against her deeply held beliefs, but in her capacity as a representative of the government she has two choices: carry out the government mandate, or resign. We the people have agreed that gay couples can marry, and if your religion prevents you from carrying out our will, then quit. Keep your beliefs, but find another job. Open a bakery and refuse to bake cakes for gay couples. That is your right, IMO. The market will decide if they want to give you money or not.
Now, the Constitution also states ‘no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States’, and the important question here is carried out by whom? The government itself cannot carry out a religious test. The public certainly can, and probing a person’s religious beliefs is fair play for both the media and the public. We have a right to know just how strictly you interpret your primary religious text, should you have one, and some strict religions are downright terrifying!
I originally thought the left’s unwillingness to engage with the violent manifestation of Islam had to do with them being scared witless, but I have a new theory now: the left downplays radical Islam because their own ‘progressive’ ideology is very much akin to a religion, and they would like to impose their beliefs on the rest of us with the same zealotry as radical Islam. To be crystal clear, I do not accuse Islam of being the only religion to engage draconian, medieval versions of their faith: history is rife with religious inspired violence, but it has been several hundred years since widespread religious barbarism has been practiced by any of the dominant world religions, with the exception of Islam.
Critics may howl that Israel is engaged in violent, religious inspired violence at this very moment, but that isn’t true. Israel is nation-building, using bombs and bullets, as many nations have done before them. There is no Jewish mandate, as far as I know (correct me if I’m wrong) that calls for the destruction of other religious groups. They’re not shooting Palestinians because they are Muslims, they are shooting them because Israel wants their land. If the Palestinians up and moved to Jordan, leaving the Gaza strip for Israelis to settle and develop, there would be no bombs or bullets. Until Israel decided it wanted more land. I’m not saying that’s okay, I’m saying there is a difference between killing someone because you hate their faith, as opposed to just straight up theft.
The only religious group that is engaging in widespread religious violence right now is radical Islam. ISIS is openly calling for the establishment of a caliphate. They want to impose Sharia law across the world. They kill people for ‘insulting’ their faith. They burn people alive in cages. They trade Christian women as sex slaves. They slaughter ‘infidels’. They cut off their heads. They blow them up with bombs. They train children in beheading and executing by gunfire at point blank range. There is nothing here to downplay. These people are completely terrifying. There is no other religious group engaging in this kind of terror, although historically, there certainly has been. Christianity came through the dark ages to emerge on the other side, and part of the Enlightenment led to the creation of the United States and the US Constitution. It was partially in response to the insane levels of Christian bloodletting that preceded the Enlightenment. The Constitution is meant to prevent that kind of nightmare from arising again. The Founding Fathers recognized every individual’s profound, inalienable right to determine their religious beliefs for themselves, but it was also created to prevent a religious class from seizing control of the government so they could impose their particular beliefs on everyone else.
Let’s tackle the most common response to the rise of radical, violent Islam: most Muslims are moderates, do not support the most extreme implementations of Sharia and do not wish to impose their views on others. Let’s look at Islam in a global context, first. All data from the PEW Research Council, which is generally pretty reliable.
Percentage of Muslims who favor making Sharia the law of the land:
What kind of Sharia exactly? Here is the percentage of Muslims that support corporal punishment for crimes such as theft, including whipping and amputations:
And here is the data for Muslims who support stoning as a punishment for adultery:
Those that support the death penalty for people converting to another religion:
Big ranges from the Middle East to Eastern Europe, as one would expect. But a significant number of Westernized Muslims are in favor of some of the most barbaric interpretations of Sharia law. The PEW Council does not ask the same questions of American Muslims. As far as I can see, American Muslims are asked only one question related to violence, related to suicide bombings against civilian targets.
More than eight-in-ten American Muslims say suicide bombings and other forms of violence against civilian targets are never justified (81%) or rarely justified (5%) to defend Islam from its enemies. Worldwide, most Muslims also reject this type of violence, with a median of 72% saying such attacks are never justified and 10% saying they are rarely justified. Just 1% of U.S. Muslims and a median of 3% of Muslims worldwide say suicide bombings and other violence against civilian targets are often justified, while 7% of U.S. Muslims and a global median of 8% of Muslims say such attacks are sometimes justified to defend Islam.
Let’s pull those numbers out:
19% of American Muslims think suicide bombings against civilian targets are, or can be justified. That’s nearly one in five.
PEW doesn’t ask American Muslims if they would like to live under Sharia law, but conservative website WND did. Yes, let’s take that with a giant grain of salt – WND has a horse in the race, and is not motivated, in any way, to give a fair and balanced result, but their findings are still interesting. They hired an external company to conduct the survey, and polled 600 American Muslims who planned to vote in the 2012 election.
Nearly half of 600 Muslim-American citizens polled who plan to vote in the 2012 presidential election believe parodies of Muhammad should be prosecuted criminally in the U.S., and one in eight say the offense is so serious violators should face the death penalty.
The poll also found 40 percent of Muslims in America believe they should not be judged by U.S. law and the Constitution, but by Sharia standards.
Complete list of questions can be found here.
From an objective, reliable poll, 20% of American Muslims are ‘problematic’, as the left likes to say. A likely more biased poll puts that number at 40%. Either way, it’s true that the majority of American Muslims are moderates, who feel no conflict between their faith and the governing principles of society, which is precisely what the Constitution is intended to achieve. But there is a significant minority who embrace the violent extremism of Islam, and those are the people Carson is concerned about.
When Timothy McVeigh vented his fury at the government over their handling of the disastrous raid in Waco Texas, it’s hard to imagine that 20% of Americans supported him. Lots of Americans were furious at the Waco raid, but not to the point that they condoned or justified McVeigh’s actions, that killed 168 people, including the unforgettable little Baylee Almon.
If a Presidential candidate announced that actions like the Oklahoma Bombing could ‘sometimes be justified’, based on their religious beliefs, would you consider that candidate qualified to lead the country? I sure as hell wouldn’t! And I would want to know he was of that opinion. The government doesn’t need to, and cannot, set a religious test for office, but we can. If 20% of Christians admitted they thought terrorist attacks against civilians, like the Oklahoma Bombing, could be justified, I think we would be asking every Christian candidate to clarify their position. And we would search for evidence that they were being truthful, if they denied it.
But Christians don’t agree with McVeigh. If fact, many of them went out of their way to denounce him and his actions as completely incompatible with Christianity. In 2015, it’s not Christians supporting religious based violence against civilian targets, and it’s not Christians wanting to live under barbaric laws that mete out stoning, whipping and amputation as punishment. It’s Muslims. Not all. Not even most. But a good chunk of them.
That’s worth questioning. And it’s worth questioning why the liberal left media wants to ignore the Muslims who express such desires. You can bet your ass they would never in a million years ignore that, if it were radical Christians wanting to live under Old Testament laws and carrying out bombings against civilians who did not share, or insulted their beliefs.
Left wing, progressives are deeply naïve. They won’t be all that thrilled when facing a public whipping for watching Breaking Bad instead of praying to Mecca. But more worrisome is their apparent admiration for radical Islam’s ability to impose their beliefs so brutally.
Do they long for the same powers?
I think they do.
It will never happen. Carson is absolutely correct: we need to keep all radical, fundamentalist religious adherents out of the Oval Office, including left wing zealots who are practicing what amounts to a religion of their own.
Believe in an America that keeps all fanatics on the fringes, where they belong.
Lots of love,