Bryan Fischer Award Nominee: Mat Staver


To the title of Worst Lawyer in America Not Named Larry Klayman (or Orly Taitz), Mat Staver, dean of the Liberty University law school, can now add a Bryan Fischer Award for this breathtaking bit of unintentional irony. He actually says that Islam is not a religion but a political ideology:

“Islam is a political ideology. Certainly it takes characteristics of religion, but by and large, at its core, both in the United States and around the world, it is a political ideology,” Staver asserts. “Consequently, to use the same kind of laws for an advancement of a political ideology that you would for religious liberty could eventually cause some concerning issues that we want to address.”

In other words, it would mean advancing a political ideology under the guise of religion.

Wouldn’t you love to hear him try to explain why Islam is a political ideology under the guise of religion while right-wing Christianity is not? Not only does the Christian right push a clear political ideology on the basis of religion, it’s often the exact same ideology as those reactionary Muslims he criticizes.

Evangelical Christian historian John Fea has had enough of this.

There are a lot of good and thoughtful teachers and scholars who work at Liberty University. It is time for these cooler heads to prevail and do something about the Dean of the Law School, Mat Staver…

Now Staver is arguing that Islam is not protected under the First Amendment because it is not a religion, but a “political ideology.” How can Liberty claim to have a respectable law school when its dean continues to promote this kind of stuff? These remarks are not only detrimental to the reputation of Liberty Law School, but they should be embarrassing to any American Christian who cares about religious liberty and the First Amendment.

Of course it should. But it isn’t, certainly not at Liberty, which never had any credible claim to be anything other than a factory to produce ignorant wingnuts.

Comments

  1. Sastra says

    Most religious and spiritual people are adamant that TRUE religion (or TRUE spirituality) is not the sort of thing you do for a day or a ritual. It ought to effect your entire life — how you live, how you love, what you work for, and what you work against. Religious/spiritual truths are not just personal preferences. They indicate a fundamental understanding of how reality really is for everyone.

    In which case — how could this not spill into politics? Even if your religion tells you to “keep church and state separate” you’re still using your faith to inform an understanding of how government ought to be.

    (Hey, aren’t the ‘preview’ and ‘submit’ buttons switched now? That’s just mean.)

  2. garnetstar says

    Let’s see, Christianity is a philosophy, Islam is a political ideology, and atheism is a religion.

    Got it.

  3. says

    How can Liberty claim to have a respectable law school when its dean continues to promote this kind of stuff?

    Same way they claim moral superiority and any number of other ludicrous claims?

  4. Michael Heath says

    If Islam was a political ideology rather than a religion, that would provide Islamists even more protection under the speech, assembly, press, and petition clauses of the 1st Amendment. Far more than they enjoy now.

    That’s because the religious freedom clause comes attached to a numerated prohibition, the establishment clause; where the establishment clause prohibits the exercise of government power to advance religion. A limitation of power that is not in place when it comes to political groups.

    Political groups also predominately reference their political ideology to advance both their policies and candidates, whereas political-religious groups like conservative Christians break credulity to claim they’re not advancing their religious bigotries but instead are merely arguing for constitutionally valid and prudent policy.

  5. Chiroptera says

    Mat Staver: “Consequently, to use the same kind of laws for an advancement of a political ideology that you would for religious liberty could eventually cause some concerning issues that we want to address.”

    Well, except that First Amendment does give protection to both religious liberty and advancing a political ideology.

    The US Constitution itself doesn’t distinguish between political ideology and religion as far as protections.

  6. John Hinkle says

    …detrimental to the reputation of Liberty Law School

    That boat sailed out of the harbor a long time ago and has never been seen since.
     
    And yes, the ‘preview’ and ‘submit’ buttons are switched. I think Ed did it on purpose to add more humor to the comment section, since everyone is so serious here.

  7. laurentweppe says

    How any of those “not a religion” claims can be summarized:

    We want to opress those dark skinned foreigners.
    What? It sounds fascist?
    Nononononononono: They’re the real fascists because, because in fact they all secretly want to oppress US, honnest! We decoded their holy book with our superior lily white brains and discovered that its a secret plan for taking over 21st century western democracies.

  8. thalwen says

    Right wing Christianity isn’t a political ideology. It’s just a coincidence that their version of the Bible seems to mirror the GOP Platform.

  9. D. C. Sessions says

    Liberty, which never had any credible claim to be anything other than a factory to produce ignorant wingnuts.

    Ed, I’d bet at least even money that the next Republican appointment to the United States Supreme Court will be from Liberty. If not from a recent graduating class, then not much (if any) more than 40 years old.

  10. says

    This is another bizarre case of right-wingers being obsessed with what you call something rather than what that something actually is. A belief in “the magic of words”. I’m not sure what their exact cognitive deficiency is here, but it smacks of an inability to differentiate between the abstract and the concrete, to realize that language is merely symbolic and that changing words around doesn’t actually change reality. The quintessential example is tax protestors, who think they can change the law by changing labels. But you see this everywhere.

  11. bobafuct says

    Clearly Mat is wrong that Islam is not a religion. However, he’s only “mostly” wrong and not “all” wrong. Historically, Islam has, for the most part, looked more like ancient Judaism, where the highest political figure (the caliph) is also the spiritual leader of the entire body of believers (the ummah). This of course was modeled after Muhammad, who not only led religiously, but politically as well. Nowadays, strict adherents to Islam (becoming rarer, but Salafists and other traditionalists follow this model) believe that the “church” and state are the same thing. Nationalism was never totally eradicated in the historic Islamic empires, but the idea was that there was that there would be one Islamic caliphate that was both the religious and political authority. In addition, Islamic “scholars” generally are the folks who issue legal rulings and sit on courts and what not, so there is no distinction between a civic court and a religious court. Currently, Muslim nations have mostly developed a level of separation, but it looks a lot different than your average Western democracy.

    So for traditional Islam, you really can’t distinguish the political from the religious…but that doesn’t make Islam “not a religion.”

  12. hunter says

    Sastra @2: Sure, religious beliefs inform the way people view the world and live their lives. But the government can’t legislate them. Consequently, Congress can pass laws like the Clean Air Act, but they can’t do so on the basis of religious ideas of stewardship of Creation. There has to be a secular, rational basis for it (as in, we’re poisoning ourselves with all the junk we’re spewing into the atmosphere).

  13. laurentweppe says

    This is another bizarre case of right-wingers being obsessed with what you call something rather than what that something actually is. A belief in “the magic of words”. I’m not sure what their exact cognitive deficiency is here

    Certainly a very serious and deep “cognitive deficiency” which has nothing in common with the faith profesed by many irreligious left-wing people in the Sapir–Whorf hypothesis.
    Only people from the other tribe can be described as retarded morons -or any euphemistic variation of the term-

  14. Doug Little says

    D. C. Sessions @11,

    That’s assuming that the Republican’s are going to win another election.

  15. D. C. Sessions says

    That’s assuming that the Republican’s are going to win another election.

    What was the longest single-party Presidential running streak in living memory?

  16. laurentweppe says

    What was the longest single-party Presidential running streak in living memory?

    Democrats had a 40 years long streak from 1801 to 1841, a 20 years streak under Roosevelt & Truman. Assuming the GOP manages to keep on alienating everyone who’s not a white guy dead set on keeping people smarter than him in a subservient role, there is a chance (although not a certainty) that it will take until the 2030s for the GOP to retake the White House.

  17. D. C. Sessions says

    The early 19th century was before anything resembling our current party organization took shape, and for all of the 20 years duration from 1932 to 1953, that was only two Presidents. Can you name another instance in living memory (go ahead and count the parents of anyone alive, for that matter. Or go back to the invention of the telegraph) where one party elected thee successive Presidents?

    For that matter, when was the last time that either party elected two successive two-term Presidents?

  18. laurentweppe says

    Can you name another instance in living memory (go ahead and count the parents of anyone alive, for that matter. Or go back to the invention of the telegraph) where one party elected thee successive Presidents?

    Harding Coolidge Hoover
    McKinley Roosevelt the Elder Taft
    Lincoln Grant Hayes Garfield

  19. vmanis1 says

    I believe that the U.S. is currently on its fifth party system, leaving behind not only the Federalists and the Whigs but also the pre-New Deal Democrats. It’s entirely possible that, if the Republicans fail to pay attention to how their message isn’t resonating, that they could slowly wither away, ending up as a group of lonely old people who meet in a bar, whining about how their country was stolen from them. In that case, the Democrats might divide into two parties, one center-left and one center-right.

    I’m not saying this will happen, or is even likely. (The Republican Party might come to its senses, and try to formulate some more acceptable policies.) It’s just that no political system is forever. Just think of W.S. Gilbert’s policeman, in Iolanthe, singing ` “I often think it’s comical / How Nature always does contrive / That every boy and every gal / That’s born into the world alive / Is either a little Liberal / Or else a little ­Conservative!”’. Well. David Cameron’s Tories are not the Tories of old, and as for the British Liberals, they ceased being a major party when the Labour Party won power, and have drifted on, only to merge with the Social Democrats (refugees from Labour) into the Liberal Democrats, who now look destined for the scrap heap as a result of their coalition with the Conservatives.

    Things change.

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