Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Shania Law: The Curious Connection Between Christian and Muslim Theocracy in America

The less familiar you are with someone's religion, the greater the likelihood you take them more seriously than you should. For example, in a social media post, the following person is ridiculed for their unfounded--and unspellchecked--suspicions about those of the Islamic faith. We of course do not know where this not-racist racist got inspired to make such a post, but it's quite possible that Fox News was part of it. In a 2015 Hannity segment, the host introduces a 'shocking' video showing what he describes as Muslims in America saying, in front of an interviewer, that "they would prefer Sharia law right here in the U.S." Asked about whether they prefer sharia law or "American law," they men say they choose Sharia. Asked specifically about a law prohibiting making fun of the Prophet Mohammad, the men interviewed in the segment said yes, in one case adding, "to stop aggression."

Among the panelists brought on were an Imam representing standard Islam, along with a critic of Islam, and, predictably, the over-talking began. The ambushed guest did not present himself especially well, and resorted to ad hominems and red herrings while being repeatedly asked whether people who prefer Sharia law should even be in America.

All of the Muslims shown were either dark-skinned, or turbaned. This is not in itself worthy of criticism, but worth noting. The inconsistencies in the American attitudes are also worth noting. Hannity said, quite reasonably, that he as a Christian does not want to see a crucifix submerged in urine--a reference to the notorious work of art called Piss Christ--but would not favor a law against it for Constitutional reasons. Yet Americans have been in favor, for example, of laws against flag-burning. Americans see this as a different thing, but I do not believe they should. The flag now functions as a religious object. That Americans might believe it to be more in need of legal protection than the image of Christ says something good, perhaps, about constitutional attitudes in America, but it says something bad about the idolatry of American Christians.

Yet American suspicion about anti-constitutional Muslims appears to be less troubling than American suspicion about Christian legal extremism. In a video posted on Right Wing Watch--itself not free from propaganda and slanted coverage--Iowa pastor Kevin Swanson says he is unapologetic about the Gospel, and mentions the Book of Leviticus' law stating that those engaging in homosexual acts should be executed. With an almost admirable amount of dramatic presentation, he adds that, although the Bible says it, and we should follow the Bible, it is simply not right to focus on giving worldly punishment. He concludes that we should not yet have a law killing homosexuals, because we need to give them--as well as all of adulterous, porn-addicted America--a chance to repent. In other words, although we would be justified in executing people for sodomy, we shouldn't do so. This got a smattering of applause from the crowd, seemingly relieved that there was, according to them, some mercy in the lesson.

Swanson was flirting with a Christian version of Sharia Law. He is flirting with the idea of theocracy. If one of his audience members were later interviewed, and given the choice of God's Law and American Law, they would likely proclaim God's Law. And yet a video of this might not be described by Hannity as 'shocking.' To non-white, non-Christians it might be shocking, however, since Swanson is very, very passionately Christian and very, very, disturbingly ... blindingly ... white.

So what is the lesson here? Namely that people cheat on their religion--and that might be a good thing. What I believe the Imam on Hannity was trying to say was that American Muslims compromise their religious principles just like everyone else. Reason and heart win out over blind allegiance. They believe in the Constitution. It's just that, when publicly interviewed about Sharia Law--which refers more to a way of life and a general submission to God--the average American Muslim would say what the average American evangelical Christian would say. Given the choice of Bible or law of the land, a Bubba-American would say:

"Oh, yeah, I believe in the Bible. Yep, I would chose God over the laws of this country."

So I say: I'm not racist but I think that Christians should go back to Christianland if they want to practice Biblical law.

And go back to the dessert!!

--Tadd Ruetenik

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