By Bryan Fischer
Follow me on Twitter: @BryanJFischer, on Facebook at “Focal Point”
For some time now, I have been virtually the lone voice in America urging local planning and zoning boards and city councils to refuse to authorize the building of mosques in their communities. After all, a building “permit” implies “permission,” does it not? If permission can be granted, it can be withheld. What part of “permit” do folks not understand?
I at last am no longer alone. When asked on Sunday by Chris Wallace of “Fox News Sunday” if any community can ban a mosque if it chooses to do so, Herman Cain replied, “They have a right to do that.”
He pointed out that the reason for this is that there is no “separation of church and state” in Islam. “Islam combines church and state,” said he.
(On a side note, it seems like the Herman Cain we fell in love with - straightforward, unwavering, bold - is back, and it’s good to see. He seems to have gone on what the Australians call a “walkabout,” but now seems back in fine fettle and fine form. I wonder if he finally decided to shake off the advice of his handlers and go back to being his own authentic self, the man who generated so much enthusiasm among Tea Party Americans.)
In point of fact, in Islam the church IS the state. And since Islam allows no room for freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, freedom of conscience and equal rights for women, it’s view of culture is so bizarrely un-American as to be dangerous and destructive to civilized society in all its forms.
If there ever was a toxic ideology whose spread should be stopped at the starting gate, Islam is it. No community should be forced against its will to allow shrines to this twisted, darkened counterfeit spirituality to take root in its midst.
A recent, thoroughly researched and thoroughly documented study reveals that 81% of all the mosques in America distribute literature which calls for the use of violence to establish Islam as the only religion in the world, including America. And since such mosques are the best attended, the sad reality is that 94.7% of all Muslims in the U.S. who attend a mosque which calls for jihad against the infidel American dogs.
This is why we are seeing an increasing number of jihadist attacks on our own soil by men who have been radicalized right here in America in local mosques. The Muslim who will be on trial this week for killing two American soldiers at a recruiting center in Little Rock, Arkansas, was an American-born man who was radicalized at a mosque in Tennessee, as a matter of fact.
Surely some will screech about “freedom of religion.” The sobering reality is that Islam would abolish the very freedom of religion that gave it breath in America as soon as it had the power, and that is reason alone to vigorously resist its spread. The Constitution does not require us to nourish the seeds of our own destruction. It is not, as many have observed, a suicide pact.
But the constitutional issue must be addressed. The truth is, as I have written before, Islam has no First Amendment guarantee to build mosques anywhere it wants.
This is for the simple reason that the First Amendment was written neither to guarantee freedom of religion to Muslims or Buddhists or Hindus nor to prohibit their free exercise of religion. It wasn’t written about them one way or another.
It was written for one specific purpose: to protect the free exercise of the Christian religion.
As long-serving associate justice Joseph Story said in his monumental history of the Constitution, “The real object of the amendment was, not to countenance, much less to advance Mahometanism, or Judaism, or infidelity, by prostrating Christianity; but to exclude all rivalry among Christian sects, and to prevent any national ecclesiastical establishment, which should give to an hierarchy the exclusive patronage of the national government.” (emphasis mine)
We must be clear: the First Amendment does not prohibit the free exercise of alternative religions, but neither does it guarantee it. It simply does not address the issue at all.
As I have said repeatedly, all religions should enjoy the presumption of free exercise, but that presumption can be revoked if a religion proves itself to be a threat to public order and safety. You can ask that Christian militia in the midwest about that. They had Bible verses plastered all over their website, but its leaders are sitting in prison right now for plotting attacks on government officials.
The reality is that Hinduism and Buddhism simply do not pose the threat to public safety that Islam does. Islam raises special concerns, and it cannot take refuge behind the false facade of the First Amendment.
At the time of the founding, 99.8% of the residents of the colonies were followers, to one degree of sincerity or another, of Christianity. (The other 0.2% were followers of Judaism, which of course is within the Judeo-Christian tradition.)
When the Founders used the word “religion,” they used it much as we did on the playground when I was growing up in America a generation ago. We’d asked each other, “What religion are you?” By the term “religion” we meant some variety or brand of the Christian religion, since that was all that was represented among us. We were Baptists, or Lutherans, or Methodists, or Presbyterians, or Catholics, etc. The question essentially had to do with what brand of Christianity you wore. Such was the case at the time of the Founding.
Of course things are different today, due to our inane obsession with culture-destroying muliticulturalism, but the point here is to determine the meaning and intention of the First Amendment as given to us by the Founders, lest we lapse into the kind of judicial activism and whackery that has given us abortion and pornography and same-sex marriage on demand.
The purpose of the First Amendment was to tie the hands of Congress - and Congress alone, it’s worth nothing - by prohibiting the central government from picking one denomination and making it the official denomination of the United States. That is all that is prohibited by the “establishment” clause. “Establishment” had a quite precise meaning at the time, and meant for government to grant one specific Christian denomination preference in law and require all taxpayers to support it in some way.
You can’t violate the First Amendment unless you’re Congress, and even then you can’t violate it just by saying nice things about God or religion of Christianity or offering invocations before city council meetings or calling for national days of prayer and fasting, as Texas Gov. Rick Perry has done on August 6. There’s only one thing Congress can do to violate the establishment clause of the First Amendment, and that is to pick one Christian denomination and make it the official church of the United States. If it doesn’t do that, it can do anything it wants.
Since the First Amendment ties only the hands of Congress, the Founders intended in no way to bind the hands of the individual states when it came to matters of religious liberty. They were free, for instance, to have “established” churches within their borders, and in fact nine of the original 13 states did in 1789 when the First Amendment was enacted. (All “established” churches were - wisely in my opinion - abolished by 1833.)
That the free exercise clause provides no guarantee for non-Christian religions is made clear in the case of Mormonism. It was part and parcel of the “free exercise” of the Mormon faith to have as many wives as you wanted. Congress said nope. In fact, the Mormon church was required to prohibit plural marriages as a condition of Utah’s statehood.
(It’s worth noting in passing that the Mormon church has never renounced plural marriage. It has simply instructed its followers to obey federal law in the matter.)
Idaho came into the union in 1890, at virtually the same time as Utah, and the first page of Idaho’s state constitution makes it explicitly clear that the free exercise of religion shall in no sense be construed to justify plural marriages.
From the Idaho constitution, Article I, Section 4:
“...the liberty of conscience hereby secured shall not be construed to...excuse acts of licentiousness or justify polygamous or other pernicious practices, inconsistent with morality or the peace or safety of the state; nor to permit any person, organization, or association to directly or indirectly aid or abet, counsel or advise any person to commit the crime of bigamy or polygamy, or any other crime. Bigamy and polygamy are forever prohibited in the state, and the legislature shall provide by law for the punishment of such crimes.”
In fact, the Republican Party came into existence in 1854 to combat two evils: slavery and the pernicious Mormon practice of plural marriage, what the original GOP called "those twin relics of barbarism." (Let me point out that I’m talking about the LDS faith as it existed then, not as it exists today.)
Clearly, then, as our political experiment with the Mormon faith makes clear, there is no guarantee of the free exercise of religion for religions which are outside the stream of historic Christianity, as Mormonism is. (It denies the Trinity, the virgin birth of Christ, the unique deity of Christ, his all-sufficient atoning sacrifice on the cross, and the completeness of God’s revelation in the Old and New Testaments.)
So rock on, Herman. Millions of Americans share your reservations about the imposition of Shari’ah law and are looking for a public figure to give unapologetic voice to their concerns. You may be that man.
(Unless otherwise noted, the opinions expressed are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of the American Family Association or American Family Radio.)