Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Banning the Koran and Freedom of Religion

Jeff Goldstein links to a news report about a German seeking to ban the Koran because it is a political tool as well as a religious one. Jeff says:

Clearly, the book is being used as both an all-purpose, migratory superconstitution and as a call to arms by those currently in control of the narrative of Islamic identity politics (the Dubai Port Deal uproar is a clear indication who Americans, at least, believe control the current Muslim leadership).

Then he asks:
The question becomes, what would the effect be of a nation putting its foot down against those who would presume to introduce such a direct and outspoken threat to its sovereignty and law from within?

But is it a violation of free speech to deport imams preaching destruction of the west, and using the Koran to do so? Or to prohibit the use of Wahabbist sermons coming straight from Saudia Arabia into US mosques and Islamic cultural centers? Or is there some overriding national security question that overrides free speech claims under such circumstances?

Jeff asks a good what if as he does so he omits a critical factor. First, the United States is not Germany. Germany has curtails on free speech already that is not found in the United States. Second, in banning the Koran and deporting imams you would run afoul not only of free speech, but freedom of religion also.

Freedom of religion is a much bigger deal in the United States than it is in Europe with it's anaemic state churches. While someone like the wholly vile Fred Phelps runs around the US it is unlikely that the equally poisonous Wahabbist imams are going to get different treatment.
The trick then is to enforce the laws in place for incitement, conspiracy to commit crime and the like.

The distinction should be made between Christianity and Islam and their effects on the political system. Christianity sprung from an oppressed people and it's message takes into account the reality of a worldly government hostile or indifferent to it's adherents. Christianity is at heart a life of obedience and servitude, both to earthly authority and God's authority. Jeff quotes the "rending unto Ceasar" scripture and it is a good pithy reply. Also though consider the apostle Paul's admonition to slaves in Ephesians 6 starting in verse 5:
Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. 6Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but like slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. 7Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men, 8because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does, whether he is slave or free.

and in Phillipians Christians are enjoined to imitate Christ:

If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. 3Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.5Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: 6Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 7but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8And being found appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross! 9Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 10that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

So here we see the two sides of the coin on Christian obedience. Submitting to earthly authority over you and serve the just authority as you would serve God. Remembering the example of Christ who became a servant (and becoming a man submitted himself to earthly authorities). For all the ballyhooing about the impending theocracy in Bush's America, the mainstream Christian theology understands that Jesus himself spoke of the heavenly kingdom and not an earthly one and that the apostles taught on how to live under a secular government.

Contrast that with explict instructions on running earthly government in the Koran. With set laws codifying the jizya (or blood price) and restrictions of dhimmitude. I am not saying that Islam cannot come to an accomodation with Western culture but it will require a drastic reinterpretation away from the accepted meanings of the Koran today. Jeff asks what would be the consequences if a nation clamped down on the outspoken Wahabbist imams?

I honestly don't know that Germany could clamp down on these imams without horrible results, BUT I think that it is worth fighting for. The other option is to give in to the radicals who wish to institute sharia without a fight. What of the US? The usual groups would squawk about the erosion of civil liberties but Americans have not drunk as deeply from the appeasement well. The duty of the state is to protect its citizenry, this should apply to Moslems clerics as well as fringe Christians who preach hate. Watch them, prosecute them when they break laws, revoke citizenry and visas when necessary.

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