No Way, No How, No Sharia

Posted on Categories Religion & Law

Representative Tom Tancredo has introduced something he calls the “Jihad Prevention Act.” The bill would exclude from  admission into the United States of “[a]ny alien who fails to attest . . . that the alien will not advocate installing a Sharia law system in the United States . . . .” The bill raises a number of questions but the one that calls out to me is the question of the government’s interest in the religious beliefs of its citizens. Constitutional doctrine says that the state must make no religious decisions and treat all equally but, as I argue in a forthcoming paper (and I was hardly the first to notice), the government engages in all sorts of conduct that is calculated to shape the religious beliefs of its citizens, and there is probably no way to avoid that. Certain religious systems may well be incompatible with liberal democracy. Christian Dominionism may be one of them. Perhaps a form of Islam insisting upon Sharia law is another.

Does the government have an interest in discouraging the formation and spread of such beliefs? If so, what can it do to further that interest?

3 thoughts on “No Way, No How, No Sharia”

  1. Muslims Against Sharia praise Congressman Tancredo’s initiative. We advocated similar measures in the past and fully support “Gihad Prevention Act”

    “Any person from a country where a substantial part of the population is pro-Sharia should not be allowed in the West, not only as an immigrant, but even as a visitor with a few exceptions, i.e., political asylum or as a diplomat etc. … Every legal immigrant should be allowed to stay only if he/she did not display desire to establish a Sharia state in a host country. Any naturalized citizen who displays a desire to establish a Sharia state in a host country should have his/her citizenship revoked and promptly deported. I think the latter two groups is where the real danger lies.” Linda Ahmed, FrontPage Magazine, July 24, 2008

    “Anyone who proclaims Islamic extremist views should be tried for sedition, since we are at war with radical Islam, or at the very least, promptly deported.” Khalim Massoud, FrontPage Magazine, September 9, 2008

  2. Maybe I’m missing something here, but why isn’t this bill a garden-variety violation of both the Establishment Clause and the Free Speech clause (i.e., for requiring compelled speech)? I’m pretty sure the answer can’t be that the religious beliefs in question are thought to be incompatible with democracy. The same was thought by many to be true of Catholicism in the 18th and 19th centuries.

  3. That’s certainly one of the questions that it raises although I was thinking about the thing in a more theoretical way. I’m not sure that an excluded alien would have standing to challenge the law, so the claim may have to be made by a US citizen based upon his or her right to hear speech advocating Sharia law. There are certainly cases that have allowed such claims when the basis for excluding an alien was his or her speech, but I am not sure that the issue has been definitively resolved. Perhaps someone else can help.

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