State Sen. Bill Ketron, R-Murfreesboro, and state Rep. Judd Matheny, R-Tullahoma, have introduced a bill that would make it a felony to adhere to Sharia law in the state of Tennessee — punishable by 15 years in jail. The facially unconstitutional law would make Tennessee the leading state in the Union in the denial of freedom of religion.
The law declares Sharia to be a danger to homeland security and includes any adherence to Sharia (including feet washing and prayers) as prohibited acts.
Matheny is the House speaker pro tempore and actually says that he is defending the U.S. Constitution by denying religious practices to citizens.
The law was reportedly drafted by David Yerushalmi, an Ariz.-based attorney who runs the Society of Americans for National Existence, a nonprofit that says following Shariah is treasonous. The article below reports that Yerushalmi has “close ties to Frank Gaffney, president of the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Security Policy.”
Yerushalmi has been denounced as a “facsict” by writers like Richard Silverstein, who quotes Yerushalmi on such notable comments as this:
One must admit readily that the radical liberal Jew is a fact of the West and a destructive one…Indeed, Jews in the main have turned their backs on the belief in G-d and His commandments as a book of laws for a particular and chosen people…What interest does America have in a strong Israel? If your answer is democracy in a liberal or western sense, know you have sided with the Palestinians of Hamas.
The bill is little more than an anti-Islamic screed. It includes such “findings” as:
The knowing adherence to sharia and to foreign sharia authorities is prima facie evidence of an act in support of the overthrow of the United States government and the government of this state through the abrogation, destruction, or violation of the United States and Tennessee Constitutions by the likely use of imminent criminal violence and terrorism with the aim of imposing sharia on the people of this state.
It misstates critical aspects of the Islamic faith:
Sharia in particular includes a war doctrine known as jihad, which is an organic, intrinsic and central feature of the laws and traditions of sharia due to a consensus among sharia authorities throughout the ages
Jihad is in fact a general term that does not mean violent overthrow but a wide range of religious based charity and service, according to experts on Islam.
The bill is SB 1028 in the Senate and HB 1353 in the House. It treats mere adherence to Sharia as tantamount to terrorism, and includes a provision giving the state attorney general the power to designate a sharia-following organization in the same way that the U.S. Attorney General declares an organization to be a terrorist organization:
(1) The attorney general and reporter is authorized to designate an organization as a sharia organization in accordance with this subsection (a) if the attorney general and reporter finds that:
(A) The organization knowingly adheres to sharia;
(B) The organization engages in, or retains the capability and intent to engage in, an act of terrorism as defined in § 39-13-803; and
(C) The act of terrorism of the organization threatens the security or public safety of this state’s residents.
Here is the law: SB1028
There are few sites more critical of the abuses of Sharia law than this blog. If you search Sharia on this site, you will bring up an endless array of shocking abuses. However, the way to fight such abuse is not to become equally authoritarian and hateful. Most of these abuses are concentrated in radical Islamic governments. Sharia law is far broader in its application and interpretation.
It is highly ironic to see politicians advocating a bill criminalizing religious practices in the name of protecting a Constitution created to protect religious freedoms. One would have to go pretty far from our shores to find how to implement such laws. For example, Saudi Arabia outlaws places of worship of other religions and, of course, the Taliban regularly punishes those who practice other religions.
In the end, these legislators will simply expend taxpayer money to defend a law that has been unconstitutional since the establishment of this Republic.