As the emotional debate over building the Ground Zero Mosque continues, President Obama announced his support for the Muslim initiative.
On August 13, at a White House dinner celebrating the Islamic month of Ramadan, he emphasized that “Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as anyone else in this country… This is America and our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakable. The principle that people of all faiths are welcome in this country, and will not be treated differently by their government, is essential to who we are. The writ of our Founders must endure.”
In citing the need to preserve “the writ of our Founders,” Obama ignores history and a major concern about Islam cited by two of our Founding Fathers. He also fails to grasp the concept that religious tolerance does not mean embracing religious intolerance.
Two of our Founding Fathers—Thomas Jefferson and John Adams—serving as America’s ambassadors to France and Britain respectively—met in London with Tripoli’s ambassador to Britain in 1786. Their mission was to negotiate a peace treaty to end unprovoked attacks against American ships that were being launched by pirates from various Muslim countries along the Barbary Coast and their enslavement of captured American crewmen.
Jefferson and Adams queried the Tripoli ambassador as to why our ships were being attacked. His response sufficiently concerned the two Founding Fathers that they felt compelled to report what was said to the Continental Congress:
“That it was founded on the laws of their Prophet, that it was written in their Koran, that all nations who should not have acknowledged their authority were sinners, that it was their right and duty to make war upon them wherever they could be found, and to make slaves of all they could take as prisoners, and that every Muslim who should be slain in battle was sure to go to Paradise.”
While the writ of religious freedom is an important mandate established by our Founding Fathers, so too is the writ mandating separation between church and state. This concept emanates from a principle espoused by philosopher John Locke of a “social contract”—the structure by which people form states to maintain social order. Rational people exercise their individual conscience to form these states—a consciousness which cannot be ceded to a government or others to control. Thus, legitimate state authority has to derive from the consent of the governed—a concept contrary to Islamic belief.
While freedom of religion is important, Islam represents a religion and a political movement rolled into a single belief system. Most worrisome is the fact that it is a belief system in which individual conscience has been abandoned by adherents who have ceded control to others—to their spiritual leaders whose words then dictate the adherents’ actions. This was clearly explained by former Egyptian terrorist-in-training Tawfik Hamid who was warned, after asking questions of his handlers in an exercise of his individual conscience, “If you start to think for yourself, you will become an infidel.”
Islam fosters a belief system that views all other religions—deemed by Prophet Muhammad—as inferior; a belief system that rejects equal rights for all in favor of only a very small percentage of mankind (Muslim men); a belief system that makes Islam the betta fish of all religions—looking to consume them or make them subservient to it.
No other major religion condones the violence Islam does to attain its goal as the most dominant religion in the world. Its game plan, eventually, is to create but one international rule of law standard—that of sharia law. We have already seen signs of this brutal law creeping into Western culture, cracking the very foundations of respect and dignity for human life upon which democracies are built.
Two years ago in England, where a very large Muslim population resides, the Archbishop of Canterbury suggested sharia be accepted into the country’s legal system. Any responsible citizen embracing equality for all human life knows doing this fundamentally affects the integrity of the host country’s law and the values around which its legal system was built.
In a case hitting much closer to home and not too far from where supporters seek to build the Ground Zero Mosque, a New Jersey judge—trying a rape case involving an accused Muslim husband and victim wife—opted to apply Islamic law. The law invoked is one demanding a wife surrender herself to her husband’s desire for sexual intercourse. As the blunt language of one Islamic religious scholar of old explains the wife’s duty to her husband, it is “to surrender herself … (and) she should not refuse him even if she is on a camel’s saddle.” The New Jersey judge applied sharia finding that, in the husband’s mind, he had not committed rape.
By adopting such logic, this judge opens the door now for a murderer to be excused who has performed an honor killing—e.g., of a female family member who has been raped, thus dishonoring her family and mandating her death in order for the family’s honor to be restored. In effect, the judge’s ruling says the wife must surrender her individual conscience to the will of another—her husband. (Ironically, had the wife killed her husband in self-defense, no protections for her exist under sharia, thus leaving her subject to New Jersey law.)
A danger exists in grouping Islam, as it exists today with a political component, together with all other religions to be freely practiced on an equal footing. The belief system within Islam—packed with a political punch and believers who have surrendered their individual conscience to their spiritual puppeteers—makes it a religion “on steroids,” challenging the free practice of all religions equally.
The President is right: America should open its doors to all religions. But the assumption is all religions will preach on a level playing field. However, Islam grows because fertile ground is provided to allow it to do so at the expense of other religions. Muslim countries impose restrictions upon other religions, effectively leaving Islam the only religion “in town.” While Obama supports a mosque being built on the hallowed ground created by 9/11, no Muslim country would even consider allowing other religions to build a house of worship on ground deemed hallowed by Islam.
It is surprising Obama touts religious freedom as a basis for supporting construction of the Ground Zero mosque at the same time he has even failed to do what previous presidents have done by declaring religious freedom a “value” to be promoted as part of our national security strategy. As that strategy also declined to make reference to any threat by Islamic extremists or to even use the word “Islam,” could it be Obama was similarly intimidated into avoiding any reference to religious freedom as a strategic national value?
A finding by the Pew Research Center that “religious liberty means less religious persecution and thus less conflict” also suggests we should include religious freedom as part of our national strategy. The finding underscores too why more Muslims are killed today by fellow Muslims than by non-Muslims—for Islam’s intolerance and brutality extends even to its own followers. As the Institute for Global Engagement recommends, there should be “a more comprehensive integration—intellectually and institutionally—of religious freedom into the mainstream of U.S. foreign policy”—as part of a discourse on the equality of all human life. Yet Obama made no mention about such equality while endorsing the Ground Zero mosque.
There are clearly significant differences among the many religions practiced in the world today. Where dignity for all human life is a cornerstone of a religion, we should not hesitate to open our doors to it. However, where such dignity is lacking—attaching only to its male believers whose spiritual leaders then harness and direct their individual consciousness as a political weapon, such a religion endangers the free practice of religion by all.
The President’s endorsement of the Ground Zero mosque does not represent the exercise of religious freedom, it represents acceptance of religious intolerance and human inequality.