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Volokh on ‘Creeping Sharia’

Law professor Eugene Volokh is devoting the entire week to blogging about the mythical threat of “creeping sharia” in the United States that is so heavily promoted by the far right. His first post is an overview of the subject, on which he wrote a law review paper.

In many of the instances that critics see as improper “creeping sharia,” I will argue, it is longstanding American law that calls for recognizing or implementing an individual’s religious principles, including Islamic principles. American law provides for freedom of contract and disposition of property at death. Muslims (like Christians, Jews, and the irreligious) can therefore write contracts and wills to implement their understanding of their religious obligations. American law provides for arbitration with parties’ consent. Muslims can use this to route their disputes to Muslim tribunals, just like Christians, Jews and the irreligious often route their disputes to private arbitrators of their choice.

American law provides for religious exemptions from generally applicable laws and from employer regulations. Muslims, as well as Christians, Jews, and others, may claim such exemptions. American law provides for the use of foreign law in certain cases stemming from foreign occurrences (marriages, divorces, injuries and the like). Sometimes this calls for the use of foreign religious law, whether Islamic law, Jewish law, or the decisions of Christian tribunals.

Of course, American law also imposes limiting principles on these doctrines. Some contracts and foreign judgments are unenforceable. Many religious exemption requests are denied.[8] But these limiting principles, I argue below, already adequately prevent improper recognition of Islamic law and allow recognition of such law when recognition is proper. There is no need for new law here. The current principles just need to be applied equally to all situations, whether those situations involve Islamic law or other law…

Nonetheless, I think many other complaints about incidents of alleged “creeping sharia” in American law are misguided, partly because the complaints miss the way those incidents simply reflect well-settled (and sound) American law. Indeed, the alternative approach that I offer is, I think, a conservative approach. It urges courts to continue following well-established American legal traditions rather than distorting those traditions either in favor of Islam or against.

Volokh is, true to his professorial demeanor, being entirely too generous and civil to those who claim America is going to be taken over by sharia law. That position isn’t just wrong and misguided, it is patently ridiculous and motivated primarily by bigotry. Muslims are 1% of this country’s population. There is no scenario by which they could takeover this country and impose sharia law that is even remotely conceivable, much less plausible.

Comments

  1. says

    There is no scenario by which they could takeover this country and impose sharia law that is even remotely conceivable, much less plausible.

    And that is exactly what they want you to believe! We need to act now before they discover our two meter-wide small thermal exhaust port, right below the main port with a shaft that leads directly to the reactor system!

  2. says

    Christianity-based law held sway in the US for quite a while. I guess they are worried about it going the same way but in a muslim direction. Heck of a way to learn the value of a secular society, huh, guys?

  3. brucegee1962 says

    I think that, in fairness, it should be noted that there are quite a few countries around the world in which creeping sharia law is a genuine problem. It’s just that America doesn’t happen to be one of them, and isn’t likely to become one anytime soon due to the demographic factors PZ mentions.

    But I’d hate to diminish the work of those who are struggling against it in places where it is a real threat, and who are motivated not by bigotry but a real sense of fear. The allies of your enemies, in this case, may well be your friends.

  4. matty1 says

    Creeping is over rated as a means of locomotion. You want to be worried about strutting sharia or maybe prancing sharia.

  5. Synfandel says

    There is no scenario by which they could takeover this country and impose sharia law that is even remotely conceivable, much less plausible.

    You’ve forgotten about the Chinese-Muslim army massing on the Canada-US border.

  6. thomaspaine says

    I must respectfully disagree with this post. Yes, demographics limit the impact but any impact is a problem for the victims. Look at the problems with the Islamic marriage tribunals in the UK. Muslim women may naively believe they will receive a fair hearing but the reality is they get screwed 100% of the time.

    I am a aware (I know one of the lawyers involved in the case) of a recent NY state court decision in a child custody dispute in which a foreign sharia court’s decision was recognized without qualification. No regard for the welfare of the child was taken into consideration.

    Sharia creep in the US may be small but it is still claiming real victims.

  7. Michael Heath says

    thomaspaine,

    If we assume what you write is factually correct, than it’s also important to distinguish the legitimate victims you reference from the non-existing victims that the far right references.

  8. Alverant says

    What I think “creeping sharia” really means to people is, “Those muslims are going to have the same special rights as us christians!”

  9. Nick Gotts says

    Look at the problems with the Islamic marriage tribunals in the UK. Muslim women may naively believe they will receive a fair hearing but the reality is they get screwed 100% of the time. – thomaspaine@8

    This is a real problem, and the same arises with Orthodox Jewish tribunals, but it’s not easily solved. Current English law states that any third party can be agreed by two sides to arbitrate in a civil dispute – although the decision is not binding if enacting it would violate the criminal law. It’s not easy to find a way to distinguish genuine from coerced agreement to take a dispute to a particular arbitrator, or to formulate a way to exclude arbitration tribunals that disadvantage women – although I think the latter should be attempted, perhaps with the enactment of some form of registration, after which only decisions by registered tribunals should be valid.

  10. says

    Does anyone know why it takes up to a half-dozen attempts to return to the original startpoint, after making a comment.

    Please don’t sugges Mozilla; tried that wednesday and it completely fucked up any streaming I did–and I do mean completely, it seized, every time.

  11. cjcolucci says

    I read the article and everything in it is, or should be, perfectly obyious. I do not mean that as a criticism; it is often useful to have the obvious laid out systematically and with footnotes. Especially in a law review published in Oklahoma.

  12. says

    My flower bed has creeping sharia. It’s awful. It pushes out all the other plants. I planted some creeping christianity, and am watching them fight it out. I need a better hobby. Gardening is too political.
     

    That position isn’t just wrong and misguided, it is patently ridiculous and motivated primarily by bigotry. Muslims are 1% of this country’s population.

    Do you know who else was just 1% of the population? Hitler!

     
    Alverant “What I think ‘creeping sharia’ really means to people is, ‘Those muslims are going to have the same special rights as us christians!’”
    Don’t be ridiculous. “Special rights” is when groups I don’t like get rights I already have. My rights aren’t special. They’re normal.

  13. says

    democommie “Does anyone know why it takes up to a half-dozen attempts to return to the original startpoint, after making a comment.”
    Are you old? The internet doesn’t work for old people. For it to work properly you have to be young and hip like us kids these days. Why, just this morning I twittered the facebook on my cellular telephone.

  14. says

    I had the same reaction as Ed. It was nice of him to put forth the effort, but “creeping sharia” is so utterly preposterous that it deserves little more than ridicule.

    In addition to the fact that Muslims are a negligible part of our population, the long-term trend in court rulings is toward protection of minority rights (including gays), separation of church and state, and equal protection under the law. Conservatives are well aware of this because they’re constantly bitching about it! Now they expect us to believe that the courts are going to do a radical 180 and adopt a legal philosophy based on the ultra-conservative interpretation of a religion that barely exists in this country. This is total through-the-looking-glass stuff. It’s so nonsensical on so many levels it’s just not worth getting worked up over.

  15. says

    Area Man ” It’s so nonsensical on so many levels it’s just not worth getting worked up over.”
    Do you know who else thought it was so nonsensical on so many levels it was just not worth getting worked up over? Hitler!

  16. Chiroptera says

    thomaspaine, #8: I am a aware (I know one of the lawyers involved in the case) of a recent NY state court decision in a child custody dispute in which a foreign sharia court’s decision was recognized without qualification.

    Do you have more details? Like, as a previous commenter requested, a link to the case? I ask because there have been previous cases similar to this, but in those cases either

    (1) the child’s welfare was not in danger in anyway;

    (2) the court was applying pre-existing law according previously established precedents, or

    (3) the lower court made an error, as lower courts sometimes do, and it will be reversed on appeal, which is why we have appellant courts.

  17. vmanis1 says

    Well, I will point out that Arizona has recently passed its Sharia Law, which was presented as a way of allowing bakers not to sell wedding cakes to LGBTs, but which also allows virtually any discrimination in providing public services. Watch for stores to require burqas on women, or put `No Jews Allowed’ signs up, or…whatever.

    Good going, Arizona, maybe you could organize a Crusade next.

  18. laurentweppe says

    Howzabout a link to that child custody case.

    Seconded: hoaxes regarding muslims being dime a dozen, no anecdote should come without references from a credible source.

    the long-term trend in court rulings is toward protection of minority rights

    That’s the whole point: creeping sharia is the white supremacists’ codeword for “courts ruling that favor the rights of the muslim minority“. Because they know better than bluntly demanding the right to oppress those who are not numerous enough to fight back.

  19. felidae says

    I remember a GWB Federal court judge nominee Thomas Pickering saying “The ultimate standard for judgement is the Holy Bible”, relegating the US Criminal Code and the Constitution to second class status–I guess that’s OK

  20. says

    That’s the whole point: creeping sharia is the white supremacists’ codeword for “courts ruling that favor the rights of the muslim minority“. Because they know better than bluntly demanding the right to oppress those who are not numerous enough to fight back.

    Yeah, but as part of their Islamo-panic, they try to convince us that these minority-protecting courts with their creeping sharia are going to start executing gays, force women to wear burquas, and jail people who don’t bow to Mecca. Which is the precise opposite of what a court protecting minority rights would do. As I said, it all makes no sense. It’s not just wrong, it’s incoherent.

    But yeah, it’s just a way to rationalize bigotry and legal discrimination. A cartoonishly stupid way to rationalize it.

  21. freehand says

    Modusoperandi: My flower bed has creeping sharia. It’s awful. It pushes out all the other plants.
    .
    Try the “Princess Fatallah” Creeping Sharia. It has denser flower clusters, but it’s a far less aggressive ground cover. Here in the Pacific Northwest we are more likely to have problems with Theologia Dominionista, common name Besotten Godbot. It bullies its way into healthy and established garden areas, almost as though it dislikes happy competitors, but of course that would be an unjustified anthropomorphism.

  22. eric says

    @20:

    (2) the court was applying pre-existing law according previously established precedents

    Until thomaspaine gives more info, that would be my guess. The US, like many other countries, tends to honor divorce and custody agreements made in other countries. To do otherwise promotes international kidnapping, essentially. I’m sure there are individual cases where supporting some other countries’ decision results in a bad or unfair outcome for the individuals involved, but I expect that’s the exception, not the rule.

    I only did a couple minute google search, but thomaspaine may be referring to this case. In that case the courts did indeed cite comity and the recognition of a foreign legal decisions as their reasoning, which is just applying pre-existing law according to established precedents. IOW some guy from abu dhabi just asked the courts to do for him what they do for every other foreigner. No creeping sharia here.

  23. dingojack says

    Forget creeping, it’s that ‘Cha-Chaing’ Sharia* you’ve really got to worry about!
    Dingo
    ——–
    * One-two-Shar-Shar-Shar!

  24. Rebekah, the Wily Jew says

    This post and many of the reactions are truly disturbing. Secular liberalism has no place for religious law being used, ever in a court of law, full stop.

    The fact you talk past Volkh, who is a respectable blogger even if I disagree with much of his libertarianism, to a strawman just shows how hollow the liberal-left reaction to this issue is. It is about scoring political points against the right, not being consistent and principled.

    It so easy to jeer some paranoid rightwinger who think sharia is a threat to the nation as a whole.

    The mature and thoughtful way to balance that nonsense is to acknowledge the micro-threat of accommodation of sharia to individuals in the Muslim community, who may face a judge whose sense of multicultural exuberance outweighs their commitment to secular law. Is that really so hard, instead of sweeping dismissals like “mythical”.

    It may be “mythical” to a non-immigrant, secular white male like you, but not to vulnerable elements of the Muslim community.

  25. Chiroptera says

    Rebekah, the Wily Jew, #29: The mature and thoughtful way to balance that nonsense is to acknowledge the micro-threat of accommodation of sharia to individuals in the Muslim community, who may face a judge whose sense of multicultural exuberance outweighs their commitment to secular law.

    Is that another way of saying, “sometimes judges makes mistakes, and one type mistake out of the many is the judge may be too accomodating to the religious sensibilities of the litigants, and out of the many cases with religious litigants, some of them are Muslim”?

  26. says

    “Yeah, but as part of their Islamo-panic, they try to convince us that these minority-protecting courts with their creeping sharia are going to start executing gays, force women to wear burquas, and jail people who don’t bow to Mecca.

    I don’t think that the “IPKKK” would be terribly upset by the first two things and, if you could convince them that Jerusalem lies on line between HERE and Mecca, they’d be all, like, “Oh, Goody, we can hijack the mooslim prayers and turn into JESUS prayers!”.

    “The fact you talk past Volkh, who is a respectable blogger even if I disagree with much of his libertarianism, to a strawman just shows how hollow the liberal-left reaction to this issue is.”

    And the way you characterize the people here is an indication that you’re current in your AIPAC dues. Thanks for playing.

    * Islamo Panicked KKKristianists

  27. says

    The mature and thoughtful way to balance that nonsense is to acknowledge the micro-threat of accommodation of sharia to individuals in the Muslim community, who may face a judge whose sense of multicultural exuberance outweighs their commitment to secular law.

    Micro-threat? Does that mean it deserves 1^-6 as much attention as an actual threat?

    The person who is willfully blind to the real threats faced by the American Muslim community would be yourself. Whatever problems may be caused by highly irregular family court rulings, even if there exist some that aren’t made up, these pale in comparison to organized campaigns of recent years to shut down Muslim places of worship, deny them the right to travel, and otherwise blatantly violate their 1st amendment rights. You seem to be perfectly peachy with all that, or maybe you’re just ignorant.

  28. Rebekah, the Wily Jew says

    Yes, dingojack @30,I do object unilaterally to any sort of legal standing for Judaic law. I am an agnostic ethnic Jew, not a religious one. The fact you struggle with such an elementary and common distinction among Jews tells us a lot about you.

  29. Rebekah, the Wily Jew says

    Area Man, your exemplify the kneejerk polarisation and politics at work here. Only in your mind is there some instantaneous dichotomy between those who acknowledge religious-based oppression from within the Muslim community and those who see injustices done towards Muslims by others.

    I am happy to acknowledge all of the issues you mentioned as being unjust in general terms for a liberal democracy.

    But if you really want to take a broad view beyond the actual topic, de jure recognition of sharia, let’s take a moment to catalogue the crimes directly associated with Islamic communities in the West:

    FGM
    forced marriages
    pimping/sex grooming deliberately targeting non-Muslim women
    home confinement
    forced veiling/veiling under threat
    honor murders
    slavery
    terrorism
    antisemitic prejudice and violence

    How do restrictions on building a mosque stack up against a woman being threatened with gang rape if she does not take up the veil?

    And before you have a tantrum, many of those are not uniquely Islamic problems, but they are clearly associated with Islamic religious and cultural practices when found in Muslim communities.

    Also most of those are crimes against women, as I have seen time and again, misogynistic violence takes a distinct and chilling backseat for many leftists in quest for sanctimonious purity on racial issues. Again some of you need to read Taslima Nsareen and Maryam Namazie, right here at FTB, more often.

  30. Rebekah, the Wily Jew says

    @democommie

    And the way you characterize the people here is an indication that you’re current in your AIPAC dues. Thanks for playing.

    This issue has nothing whatsoever to do with Israel. It is just absurd bigotry and paranoia to be invoking AIPAC in this context simply because I am Jewish.

    In fact I am a British citizen, and rather unlikely to give money to an American political organisation. More problematically for you is that I am a critic of many of Israel’s actions, especially the illegal and immoral settlements.

  31. dingojack says

    Rebekah – Let’s see, according the CIA World Factbook:
    Population of the USA: 316,438,601 (July 2013 est.)
    Muslims make up about 0.6% of the population. Therefore about 1,898,632 individuals.
    Got any actual figures on how often those 1,898,632 individuals practice:

    • Female genital Mutilation (as opposed to the more common MGM)
    • pimping/sex grooming deliberately targeting non-Muslim women
    • home confinement
    • forced veiling/veiling under threat
    • honor murders**
    • slavery
    • terrorism*
    • antisemitic prejudice and violence

    within the USA (the country we are specifically we are speaking of here) as opposed to such things amongst other groups. Show me the data that supports your naked assertions.

    Dingo
    ——–
    * In fact within the USA, Right-Wing Christian terrorism is far, far more common.
    ** Honour killings have been stated to have occurred (elsewhere in the world), but definite proof is another matter entirely.

  32. colnago80 says

    Re Rebekah

    Suggesting that your critics here read the blogs of Taslima and Maryam is excellent. Unfortunately, I have made such suggestions in the past which have fallen on deaf ears. By the way, Dingojack aka chihuahua, is an Australian.

    The mentality here by all too many of the commentors is that anyone who has the temerity to criticize Islam is a stooge for AIPAC. To them, AIPAC is the bogeyman, the left wing equivalent to right wing bogeymen like the Council on Foreign Relations or the Trilateral Commission.

  33. Michael Heath says

    SLC/SLC1/colnago80 writes:

    The mentality here by all too many of the commentors is that anyone who has the temerity to criticize Islam is a stooge for AIPAC.

    As nearly always, SLC/SLC1/colnago80 grossly misrepresents others in this forum.

    Instead there are many in this forum who insist we consistently advocate and adhere to high standards when it come to human rights. Where such consistency demands we hold all groups to those same high standards and criticize those who fail to meet these standards; all while being cognizant of the relevant context within which human rights are being breached or defended. E.g., sometimes there’s bad actors on both sides, or we can observe some bad actors practicing atrocities to a degree far worse their opposition, which are also driven by bad actors.

    Bad actors on one side doesn’t demand we withhold criticism for the bad actors on the other side. Instead it demands that we weigh all our criticism to the normative degree of bad acting we observe by all groups.

    However the comment post I quote here does have some utility. It is a vivid example of psychological projection.

  34. colnago80 says

    Re Michael Heath @ #39

    If we are talking about the bad actors in the Middle East, it’s a question of degree. There is no comparison between the bad actors in Israel, e.g. Bibi, and the bad actors in the Arab world, e.g. the Assads, pere and fils. Any comparison between Bibi and the Assads is like comparing the guy who steals some silverware from a restaurant and the guy who holds up a bank and machine guns the tellers.

    In all fairness, most of the ire against Israel on this network exists on Prof. Singham’s blog which is a magnet for antisemites and Israel bashers. Prof. Singham likes nothing better then Israel bashing, self hating Jews like Glenn Greenwald, Philip Weiss, Noam Chomsky, Norman Finkelstein, etc. and quite typifies the Israel bashing left in this country and in Rekakah’s Great Britain.

  35. dingojack says

    “… like comparing the guy who steals some silverware from a restaurant and the guy who holds up a bank and machine guns the tellers.”

    You admit he is an almost pathological liar, but still, that’s a little harsh. :D

    Dingo

  36. dingojack says

    Rebekah, SLC – Since I imagine having convulsive knee-jerks can affect the concentration:

    “Law professor Eugene Volokh is devoting the entire week to blogging about the mythical threat of “creeping sharia” in the United States that is so heavily promoted by the far right. His first post is an overview of the subject, on which he wrote a law review paper.”

    “Volokh is, true to his professorial demeanor, being entirely too generous and civil to those who claim America. is going to be taken over by sharia lawThat position isn’t just wrong and misguided, it is patently ridiculous and motivated primarily by bigotry. Muslims are 1% of this country’s population. There is no scenario by which they could takeover this country and impose sharia law that is even remotely conceivable, much less plausible. ”

    {emphasis in both paras mine]

    Just to remind you where we are talking about [bold], and what position Ed is actually taking [italics]..

    Dingo

  37. colnago80 says

    Re Dingojack @ #41

    The late Arial Sharon and former French President Sarkozy, called Bibi a liar. President Obama and German Chancellor Merkel also have little use for him. IMHO, Bibi is a disaster for Israel’s foreign relations.

  38. dingojack says

    SLC – I was my understanding that you didn’t disagree with Sarkozy, Sharon et al. in their assessment of his seemingly reflexive lying. Perhaps I was mistaken.
    Dingo

  39. colnago80 says

    Re dingojack @ #45

    I have stated here and elsewhere that, IMHO, Bibi is a liar. Now some have argued that all politicians are liars but it is one thing to like to your constituents and quite another to lie to your peers. Lying to Obama, Sarkozy and Merkel is guaranteed to damage relations with the US, France, and Germany, not a wise thing to do.

  40. says

    “This issue has nothing whatsoever to do with Israel.”

    Nor does the issue have anything to do with the bulk of the commenters here being of any particular ideological stripe.

    “It is just absurd bigotry and paranoia to be invoking AIPAC in this context simply because I am Jewish.”

    Actually it is much more of a Pot-meet-kettle teaching moment. YOU and YOU alone decided to comment as “Rebekkah the Wily Jew”. That you choose to bash people here or elsewhere because you disagree with their analysis of the OP and the LONG,LONG,LONG history of the MurKKKan ReiKKKwing crying wolf on the subject of “Creeping Sharia for their and say that it:

    “just shows how hollow the liberal-left reaction to this issue is.”

    A comment like that is sort of a “tell” that you think anyone NOT frightened of the ridiculous bogeyman of “Creeping Sharia”–which is a fucking joke in the U.S.–must be some sort of leftiemoron. Sorry, Rebekkah, you charge in here with a bald assertion and then get upset when you’re insulted–too fucking bad.

    Run out and find some data to back up your bullshit, then we can all have a nice discussion and sing Kumbaya; or not.

  41. says

    Shoulda read:

    ‘That you choose to bash people here or elsewhere because you disagree with their analysis of the OP and the LONG,LONG,LONG history of the MurKKKan ReiKKKwing crying wolf on the subject of “Creeping Sharia and say that….”

    We regret the error (me and Buddy the Wonderdog, he helps me with the typing).

  42. says

    thomaspaine @ 8

    I am aware (I know one of the lawyers involved in the case) of a recent NY state court decision in a child custody dispute in which a foreign sharia court’s decision was recognized without qualification. No regard for the welfare of the child was taken into consideration.

    I see no indication here that the decision was a bad one, so I’m not sure how I’m supposed to find this frightening.

  43. says

    Rebekah, the Wily Jew:

    FWIW, there are plenty of KKKristianists who are fond of AIPAC–they can’t go to HEAVEN until the joos get back to the Promised Land and get on their Armageddon.

  44. devilsadvocate says

    @demmocommie

    A comment like that is sort of a “tell” that you think anyone NOT frightened of the ridiculous bogeyman of “Creeping Sharia”–which is a fucking joke in the U.S.–must be some sort of leftiemoron. Sorry, Rebekkah, you charge in here with a bald assertion and then get upset when you’re insulted–too fucking bad.

    Run out and find some data to back up your bullshit, then we can all have a nice discussion and sing Kumbaya; or not.

    Here’s some data.

    Granted, I don’t think Islam controls the country – but Islamic conquest of America is a stated goal.

    This is not the behavior of people who want to be our friends: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HjFSi1AZTq8

    Nor is casting the idea of being suspicious of Islam as being akin to horrific oppression valid in the slightest. Islam has been at war with western culture for 1600 years now. They have been driven out of Europe multiple times. This is the second time they’ve lost Israel. These people are out for blood – don’t kid yourself – they do not want to sit down and sing John Lennon songs.

  45. Michael Heath says

    devilsadvocate:

    I don’t think Islam controls the country – but Islamic conquest of America is a stated goal.

    Islamists state this as a goal, but they are not representative of all Muslims. It’s demonstrable bigotry on your part to claim an entire population has this attribute where the exceptions are far more than a mere outlier or small minority.

    The U.S. has and continues to suffer far worse from Christians than Muslims. Christians who in some combination want:
    a) all humans to be Christians – equivalent to Muslims,
    b) demand Christian privilege at the expense of everyone else, including other Christians who don’t share the political or theological objectives of those Christians demanding special privileges and,
    c) U.S. law and policy to be subservient to their holy dogma interpreted in a manner that’s isn’t necessarily consistent with that dogma, but instead convenient to their political objectives.

  46. says

    Heath #55,

    You are an asshole and one the most transparent bigots I ever encountered. Your grade-school argument boils down to “How dare anyone stereotype group A! But now let me stereotype group B and show you how much worse they are. For you, only one group is defined by the behavior of its worst representatives. (Well, at least publicly. Usually bigots have more than one target.)

  47. Michael Heath says

    heddle,

    Yet you can never demonstrate my being a bigot.

    Your avoidance of the characteristics of U.S. conservative Christians, which is convincing in the polling data, voting patterns, and public policy advocacy by those politicians who cater to conservative Christians, is not a compelling argument. It only illustrates your reliance on denialism and the rarely compelling, ‘no true Scotsman’, argument.

    I’m glad you engage with us here in this forum. But that doesn’t mean you consistently confront the inconvenient facts that Ed blogs about regularly, that I challenge you on which you avoid, that’s clearly argued for in the Bible, and again, shows up in data that describes conservative Christians.

    So no heddle, your calling me a bigot doesn’t make me a bigot. I merely point out the attributes of a population that you wish wasn’t true. And because you wish it and it ain’t true, you sometimes react emotionally as you demonstrate here when confronted with facts and arguments based on the facts.

  48. says

    Heath,

    I’ll refer to your comment on the Phelps post when another commenter pointed out that Phelps isn’t representative of Christianty–you replied

    Bullshit. The Phelps clan are fundies that express what the rest don’t say out loud in polite company.

    That is no different than saying “the Muslim terrorists are fundies that express what the rest don’t say out loud in polite company.”

    Walks and quacks like a duck. You’re a bigot, to (at a minimum) the same degree and in the same manner as a garden-variety Islamophobe. And please don’t liken yourself to Ed–Ed is famously even-handed.

  49. Michael Heath says

    heddle writes:

    You are an asshole and one the most transparent bigots I ever encountered.

    heddle, are you a congregant at a church that will marry gay people? Can a gay married couple become members of the church you attend? Does your church have any female pastors who are allowed to teach and preach to adult males? Does your church celebrate a god who promises to punish some humans for all eternity?

  50. colnago80 says

    Re Michael Heath @ #59

    In fairness to the blogs resident physics professor, math department chairman, and self appointed arbiter of who is a Christian, I would point out that Heddle’s church couldn’t marry a same sex couple if they wanted to as such marriage is not, as we sit here today, recognized in the State of Virginia.

  51. says

    Heath #59,

    None of that has anything to do with this. I am a member of a church that, it its statement of faith that we give to anyone who walks through the door, affirms separation of church and state right up there with affirming the resurrection. That means, we don’t advocate anyone losing their civil rights. True that my church would not marry a gay couple–but they also do not support making gay marriage illegal. Surely you can tell the difference. (Maybe not–bigots usually wear blinders.) Any non-violent group is free to form associations with those who are like-minded. That includes churches. Would a conservative Muslim mosque allow me to join given that I think Mohammed is a false prophet? No. Does that make them bigots? No. Would a typical Catholic priest have married me (at the time an atheist) and my wife (a Protestant)? No. Does that make them bigots? No. If I support live animal testing, will PETA elect me to its board of directors? No. Would a conservative Christian ever be asked to host a blog on FTB? Not likely.

    This ain’t rocket science. What makes you a bigot is that you paint with an infinitely broad brush of a negative stereotype, with no nuance whatsoever when it comes to your bogeymen, and you assume you know what we think better than we know what we think. All hallmarks of a bigot.

  52. devilsadvocate says

    @Michael Heath

    Islamists state this as a goal, but they are not representative of all Muslims. It’s demonstrable bigotry on your part to claim an entire population has this attribute where the exceptions are far more than a mere outlier or small minority.

    The U.S. has and continues to suffer far worse from Christians than Muslims. Christians who in some combination want:
    a) all humans to be Christians – equivalent to Muslims,
    b) demand Christian privilege at the expense of everyone else, including other Christians who don’t share the political or theological objectives of those Christians demanding special privileges and,
    c) U.S. law and policy to be subservient to their holy dogma interpreted in a manner that’s isn’t necessarily consistent with that dogma, but instead convenient to their political objectives.

    The difference being that Christians are a domestic group, Muslims are a foreign enemy that has waged repeated wars directly against western culture and powers for centuries. Sure, I’m an atheist, so I have problems with Christians – however – they are not a foreign enemy. The atheist movement has fallen into the trap that believing the west is omnipotent and that nothing can pose a threat to it. That is simply not true. Letting foreign enemies come here and disrupt our goals as a civilization and demand that we surrender free speech rights and demand we let them set up private courts to impose their law on western land is a lot different than dealing with internal disputes.

    Apparently atheists don’t recognize that borders, nationalism, patriotism, and the like actually means something to the vast majority of the world. We invite Sunni Muslims like Cenk Uygar to come here who makes a mockery of the first major genocide of the 20th century by naming his show after the Islamists who did it and he proceeds to play at being an ally of secularists. Islamists have a habit of long term sleepers, like all good nations dedicated to war. We took Israel from Muslims and handed it back to its rightful owners – many of their leaders are infuriated and their people too. The fact is, you don’t hear about Syrian Orthodox Christians committing suicide bombings because they don’t do that. You don’t hear about Coptic Christians committing suicide bombings because they don’t do that. Islam is unique in its promotion of open and unabashed guerrilla warfare and until their countries get serious about clamping down on human rights violations and establish some sense of separation of mosque and state I see no reason to trust them as they seem unwilling to promote values that further a healthy and diverse society.

    In other words – why would you support a culture that absolutely detests diversity at all levels, from religion to state to individual, moving into a multicultural society? Hindus distrust Muslims, Buddhists distrust Muslims, (sensible) Atheists distrust, Christians distrust Muslims, and Jews distrust Muslims. This is because for centuries they have used violence to impose their opinions on others and the contemporary era is no different.

    It’s one thing to deal with a domestic group, like Christian Dominionists, who want to impose theocracy, quite another to just invite a bunch of foreign people in who don’t even have a concept of separation of church and state in their countries and let them set up a bunch of religious courts everywhere to deal with their affairs extra-judicially.

    Understand there isn’t a single culture in the world that evokes this sense of distrust like Islam. I love China town, I like seeing Japanese-Americans doing well, I love Dios de los Muertos and Latino and Chicano religious artwork, I think it’s great that Indians (from India) know English due to their connection to the British. Sikhs are some of the nicest people I’ve met. I spent years working for a Syrian Orthodox Christian (who thinks all Muslims are terrorists), and blacks have been here as long as whites and are absolutely entitled to full and equal participation in society.

    The problem is when you have a culture that not only practices absolute theocratic society, but seeks to impose it imperialistically on the rest of the world – and – added to that – is infuriated that the State of Israel exists.

    http://www.pewglobal.org/files/2011/07/2011-Muslim-West-04.png

  53. Michael Heath says

    heddle writes:

    None of that has anything to do with this. I am a member of a church that, it its statement of faith that we give to anyone who walks through the door, affirms separation of church and state right up there with affirming the resurrection. That means, we don’t advocate anyone losing their civil rights. True that my church would not marry a gay couple–but they also do not support making gay marriage illegal. Surely you can tell the difference. (Maybe not–bigots usually wear blinders.)

    Here you’re using the mirror image of, “the devil made me do it” in excusing your bigotry by claiming its part of your faith, as if that’s a ‘get out of jail card’ for bigotry.

    The long persecution of gay people wasn’t created in a vacuum, it came from religion. In the U.S. that would be your religion. Pointing to your dogma as an excuse to perpetuate a culture within your own faith community that vilifies gay people is not a valid defense.

    Your beliefs demand that gay children perceive themselves as equal to those who commit sin*, merely for being gay and seeking the same loving relationships heteros enjoy – even if they do so in a monogamous relationship.

    So even when gay marriage is legal, your church plans to continue to treat gay people, and gay children, as less than human, even worse than they currently treat females. So your reference to dogma, as if that’s an excuse to practice bigotry towards gays, while claiming I’m the bigot for pointing out bigotry within conservative Christianity? I think the board in your own eye is giving you trouble perceiving whether I supposedly have a speck in mine.

    heddle, your a smart guy, but you continue to avoid confronting the ramifications of your beliefs.

    heddle writes:

    Any non-violent group is free to form associations with those who are like-minded. That includes churches. Would a conservative Muslim mosque allow me to join given that I think Mohammed is a false prophet? No. Does that make them bigots? No. Would a typical Catholic priest have married me (at the time an atheist) and my wife (a Protestant)? No. Does that make them bigots? No. If I support live animal testing, will PETA elect me to its board of directors? No. Would a conservative Christian ever be asked to host a blog on FTB? Not likely.

    Heddle, your own church will not marry the gay people that grew up in that very church. A full life for a gay person in your church is one of forced celibacy, even if that gay person wants the same committed relationship you and I enjoy merely because we’re heteros. The gay children in your midst are persecuted in a manner that doesn’t even allow them the luxury of counsel that there’s nothing wrong with being gay rather than hetero – because your church claims the opposite. That they are considered inferior to hetero children*, simply for being gay if they’re unrepentant about being gay.

    The issue of bigotry isn’t a squabble about inter-denominational theology as you wished it were, it’s about you belonging to a group that discriminates against gay people for being gay, and discriminates against females for being females. You seek to ostracize gays from your midst, and continue to subjugate females to being 2nd class citizens within their own faith community.

    Do you have such freedom of association rights? Of course you do, no one argued differently. But simply having an association right doesn’t negate the argument you’re a bigot if the organization practices bigotry. The KKK are bigots, being in the KKK doesn’t cancel out their bigotry. If the KKK supported equal rights for blacks while still promoting people persecute blacks in other areas, that’s bigoted. Conservative Christian churches are bigots for exactly the same reason; because they practice bigotry in their own midst, oftentimes against, “the least among us”, e.g., gay children.

    heddle, I don’t think you want to be a bigot, in spite of your association with a bigoted institution. I do find your psychological projection of bigotry onto me ironic given I don’t go after you like that except by association. If a gay teenager in your church came up to you and sought your counsel; what would you advise if they were unrepentant about being gay with every intention of seeking a mate? To leave your church since there can be no happiness for them in your church if they seek a mate as well?

    I understand my exposing the bigotry of your church, your faith, your beliefs, and similar denominations is frustrating to you. And I readily admit I’m motivated to frustrate you. That’s because I want Christians to end their bigotry towards gay people; which in your eyes makes me a bigot. (See, I can create strawmen as well.)

    You want to help? Quit going to churches that discriminate against gays. Or, energetically fight for your church to end its bigotry towards gay people and females by demanding they have equal rights to male hetero adults. Fighting for civil rights isn’t nearly enough, especially for gay children who are indoctrinated by your beliefs to think they’re fundamentally flawed. Not because we’re supposedly all sinners, but because they’re gay. And you a part of this abuse towards children heddle. You could fight to end it, but it will require you to argue that gay people are not flawed in a way heteros aren’t merely for being gay.

    *I know the, “we’re all sinners shtick”; it’s irrelevant to my point here. The topic isn’t committing sin, but instead identifying some people as less than others because they’re either female or gay, and justifying one’s discrimination agains them as you do here.

  54. Michael Heath says

    heddle writes:

    Surely you can tell the difference. (Maybe not–bigots usually wear blinders.) Any non-violent group is free to form associations with those who are like-minded. That includes churches. Would a conservative Muslim mosque allow me to join given that I think Mohammed is a false prophet? No. Does that make them bigots? No. Would a typical Catholic priest have married me (at the time an atheist) and my wife (a Protestant)? No. Does that make them bigots? No.

    Again, of course not where your analogy is irrelevant to the behavior being condemned by me here. An accurate analogy would be to ask; is your church bigoted if it refused to marry a black couple because they’re black? Yes, for the same reason it’s bigoted by refusing to marry a gay couple or allow gay families to be members.

    The fact you believe your dogma condemns the latter but not the former is again, irrelevant when it comes determining whether bigotry is being practiced. Citing dogma to practice bigotry doesn’t wipe out the bigotry, instead practicing bigotry reveals bigotry.

    But the above is really a relatively minor point when it comes to bigotry practiced by conservative Christians. The far worse indictments are two-fold:
    1) That the justification used by churches to justify discrimination against gay people and their families abuses the children being raised in this church environment. They are taught to think of themselves as less than their hetero counterparts. It also infects the rest of the culture and enables the only justification for the larger society to hate gays as so many do. Your religion is the source that enables continued bigotry towards gays in the U.S. It wasn’t always so when humans were ignorant given that bigotry is an innate trait. But in the age of enlightenment (for some), the only influential ignorant group that uses falsehoods to promote hatred of gays is conservative Christians.

    2) That these same churches accept and promote heteros seeking a mate and monogamous relationship, a key factor in human happiness, but vilify, ostracize, and discriminate against gay people who seek the same. Where again, the gay children within this church are exposed to such hatred and bigotry. This is inhuman, it’s morally wrong, and I think evil.

    Claiming you and your church are A-OK if you promote civil equality for gays while practicing bigotry in your churches in no way wipes out the practice of bigotry in your churches, it merely reduces it somewhat.

  55. devilsadvocate says

    @Micahel Heath

    The long persecution of gay people wasn’t created in a vacuum, it came from religion. In the U.S. that would be your religion. Pointing to your dogma as an excuse to perpetuate a culture within your own faith community that vilifies gay people is not a valid defense.

    Your beliefs demand that gay children perceive themselves as equal to those who commit sin*, merely for being gay and seeking the same loving relationships heteros enjoy – even if they do so in a monogamous relationship.

    So even when gay marriage is legal, your church plans to continue to treat gay people, and gay children, as less than human, even worse than they currently treat females. So your reference to dogma, as if that’s an excuse to practice bigotry towards gays, while claiming I’m the bigot for pointing out bigotry within conservative Christianity? I think the board in your own eye is giving you trouble perceiving whether I supposedly have a speck in mine.

    Well, aren’t you the perfect progressive sycophant. You call me a “bigot” for opposing Islam and turn around and call Christians bigots for being opposed to gay rights. Of course, Islam is not only opposed to gay rights but opposed to gays being alive, for the most part, but that’s a minor fact that you’ll conveniently overlook because it might get you a job sniffing Hamas’ hindquarters at the Guardian U.K. or some other haven of cripplingly unintelligible neo-liberal cognitive dissonance. They also do things like kill women for adultery and practice forced arranged marriage and flog women and shoot girls for going to school, all things that 99.9% of Christians don’t actually do in the first world – but – who is to quibble about facts like that when you’re as Politically Correct as any other neo-liberal who justs repeats back anything they see on TV as if they’ve found the antichrist and been saved.

    Christians are also opposed to looking at pornography, but guess what? Nobody calls them bigots for disliking those who look at porn. Some of them excommunicate for fornication – and there’s no movement of fornicators pounding on their door demanding rights. Many churches think masturbation is a sin – every seen a large group of masturbating protestors banging down the doors of the church? No, it’s because the government oppresses gays and the church bugs the government, so they tell the gays to go bother the church when, in fact, it’s the government is the power that is responsible for defending equal rights without deference to religion – not the church. The Muslims are also not going to let you get gay married in their mosque but you can’t bring yourself to call them bigots over that one can you? Not even if they promise to hang you to death for asking nicely if you can get gay married?

    This is why, ultimately, the FTB crowd has zero credibility. They’re willing to praise Islam until the cows come home when even Pat Robertson looks like a radical civil rights activist in comparison to a good portion of Islam.

    Religions have rules – if you don’t want to abide by the rules – don’t participate in the religion. Fortunately, there’s no deity, so it’s not really going to be a problem. The vast majority of western churches allow women pastors, allow them to speak in church, allow them to lead services, allow them to divorce husbands at will, allow them accountability for their own “sin,” allow them to drive, own property, speak their mind, refuse sex (as long as it’s not in an abusive fashion), teach, go to school, dress how they wish within modest limits (most churches don’t allow provocative clothing for males or females) etc.. I don’t really know where you get this idea that women are horrifically oppressed by western religion. I was raised by dominionists and they were misandristic if anything. I can’t really think of a single instance where I saw them treat a woman worse than they treated a man – but I can think of many many instances where they treated men worse than women.

    I don’t know why I respond to your comments anyway. You pretty much are completely nonsensical as you call me a bigot for being opposed to Islam because of its terrible contemporary track record of human rights violations but turn around and call Christians bigots which, in most of the first world, has a spotless human rights track record compared to Islamic nations. It’s not really spotless, but when you compare it to, say, Saudi Arabia or our lovely “friends” in Al Nusra.

  56. devilsadvocate says

    @Michael Heath

    P.S. Don’t get me wrong, I strongly dislike dominionists (for their misandry and their theocracy and for general con-artistry), though not as much as I hate Maoist-like iconoclasts and the like in the atheist movement because I’m an atheist and I have to have that label and I don’t like them tearing down war memorials and banning cultural artwork and the like, and am very much for gay rights. I just don’t see Shariah law as the primary path by which gay rights will be effectively secured. Nor do I think bombing Tel Aviv or London Subways for Allah will do much to promote gay rights.

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