Politics and U.S. legislation generally aren’t issues I generally discuss, mostly because I’m not well-versed in the latest debates or pending court cases. The whole scene stresses me out and I feel confused and helpless. But since this blog is all about faith and living from a faith perspective, I thought this particular headline deserves some debate.
I came upon this article earlier this month and it hasn’t left my mind (you may want to quickly skim it for context). My jaw dropped to see that the United States would consider allowing anything other than state and federal law to hold weight in one of our courtrooms.
According to the CNN Justice pages, voters from the state of Oklahoma passed a ban on the use of Sharia law for sentencing, only to have the Federal Government block the ban, thus opening the door for “Islamic and International Law” to be applied alongside our Constitution. Their rationale? The free speech rights of those living under such law.
I have to say, if this prevails I can’t help but feel it will be a glaring double standard for those who already feel their rights are not being upheld. Though you may argue that my examples are simplistic, I’ll offer them anyway:
This fall I watched more than one news show about polygamists living in the desert, hiding in fear of the law and what might happen if they were discovered. All of them had been raised in polygamist homes and held a deep conviction that their lifestyle was ordained by God.
I watched the husbands of each family express fear for his decision to appear on television, and you know what? I felt bad for them. Though it may not be part of my faith to live in such a way, it is their faith. It is their law.
So what about them? How can we continue to oppress these families by arresting them for their religious beliefs and not see the irony? Shouldn’t they be able to choose their free speech?
On the other hand, we read of children who die because their parents’ religion demands they avoid all medical treatment. Is that acceptable? Is that free speech?
At its core, the Oklahoma court case highlights religious freedom, religious law, and freedom of speech…and their ultimate collision with our Constitution. Is there one simple to answer to this? Block all religious law from our courts? Allow some…or parts of some?
And what about children involved, or spouses who don’t share the religious views of husbands or parents? What is their free speech?
In Oklahoma, the answer to those questions may soon depend on Sharia Law being interpreted in the United States.
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Where do you draw the line between exercising freedom of speech or freedom of religion and the U.S. Constitution? Is it possible to make a blanket decision or should decisions be made case-by-case?