A few days after print publication, Knight's syndicated newspaper column, which moves twice a week, will be posted. The most recent will appear at the top.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Sharia law and double-standard double-talk

Bill Knight column for Thurs., Fri., or Sat., Aug. 15, 16 or 17

A mass, anonymous email claims “dhimmitude” is in the health care law, meaning Muslims will be exempt from the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

It’s hogwash.

A search of the law and the related Health Care and Reconciliation Act shows “dhimmitude” isn’t in them.

The dishonest email says, “Dhimmitude is the Muslim system of controlling non-Muslim populations conquered through jihad (Holy War). Specifically, it is the TAXING of non-Muslims in exchange for tolerating their presence AND as a coercive means of converting conquered remnants to Islam.”

However, an Oxford Dictionary says “dhimmi” is a historical term describing a “non-Muslim under protection of Muslim law,” which means that Christians, Hindus, Jews, etc. would pay taxes and receive the rights of citizens, like workers in collective bargaining units are not required to be members of unions but pay “fair share” fees to cover the costs of the representation from which they benefit.

Whatever. “Dhimmi” or “dhimmitude” isn’t in health care reform.

The lie is part of a pattern of fear, deception and hypocrisy that includes “Sharia law.”

Whether Newt Gingrich or ambitious state legislators, Sharia law is a scare tactic, and prohibiting something that isn’t happening (and cannot, constitutionally) is fear-mongering to gin up worries that religion could dominate democracy. So dozens of bills in legislatures have proposed preventing “religious laws” from being considered in court, and a few states passed the measures.

But the same zealots against others’ religious laws are using their own interpretation of Christianity to escape the law.

Hobby Lobby and Domino’s Pizza want to be exempt from the Affordable Care Act, which requires employers to provide insurance covering workers’ contraception. Hobby Lobby’s evangelical Christian owners say their religious liberty is burdened by the obligation to underwrite activity they consider sinful, and last month the corporation got a temporary exemption from the mandate. U.S. District Judge Joe Heaton issued a preliminary injunction for Hobby Lobby and stayed the case until Oct. 1 to give the government time to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Catholic founder of Domino’s on Dec. 31 also was granted a temporary restraining order exempting it from the law.

“They argue that if corporations have free speech rights – as affirmed in the 2010 court case, ‘Citizens United’ – then corporations also have the right to freely exercise religion and, therefore, should be exempt from any government action at odds with their beliefs,” commented Nathan Walker, co-editor of the book “Whose God Rules: Is the United States a Secular Nation or a Theolegal Democracy?”

When Congress debated health care reform, such exemption demands came from Christians, not from Sharia or other faiths’ laws. (In fact, Ibrahim Hooper of the Council on American-Islamic Relations told that he’d never heard of Muslims objecting to health insurance. “I have health insurance,” he said. “We give health insurance to our employees. Every Muslim group I know of does the same thing.”)

Such Christian extremists are involved in issues besides health care, too. Recent efforts to restrict access to legal abortion stem from religious convictions. Texas Gov. Rick Perry is trying to shut down most women’s health clinics there, based on his religion. Concerning school vouchers and private (often church) schools, this brand of Christianity says that indirect government subsidies are constitutional. But in health care, they claim indirect government subsidies are not.

In dismissing another lawsuit challenging the contraception mandate, U.S. District Judge Carol Jackson in St. Louis explained that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act “is a shield, not a sword. It is not a means to force one’s religious practices upon others.”

State religion makes for lousy government, which our Founders foresaw, writing in Article VI, paragraph 3, of the U.S. Constitution that “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States,” and, in the First Amendment, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

Picture a country where, based on religious grounds, an Anglican merchant could fire an unmarried cashier for being pregnant, a Mormon landlord could evict an unmarried couple, or a Jehovah’s Witness boss could refuse to permit a company’s health care plan to include blood transfusions.

Will legislatures that banned the influence of Islamic religious law also forbid judges and juries from considering the Old Testament, the Catholic Catechism or Mary Baker Eddy’s Christian Sciences teachings in their deliberations?

“Owners of for-profit companies have the freedom to vote their conscience, to speak their mind, to persuade and petition and parade in the public square,” Walker said. “This free exercise of speech and religion does not give them the right to unilaterally veto the rights of their employees.”

[PICTURED: "Genuine Faux" cartoon by Junior Bruce and Keith Lowell Jensen.]

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