Tom Gilson

Islam and the First Amendment

I raise questions about Islam and the First Amendment in my current month’s BreakPoint columnWas the Constitution really written with Islam in mind?

This extends what I wrote here earlier on work to be done after Paris, and an even earlier discussion on Islam in America.

I do not claim to know the answers, but I am convinced they need to be discussed.

3 thoughts on “Islam and the First Amendment

  1. Excellent points. A strong separation between church and state keeps religion in its place.

    But what do you say to Christians who want to blur that line–Creationism taught in public schools, prayers before city council meetings, “In God We Trust” as the motto, and so on?

  2. I don’t know which points you found excellent, Bob, because what you said right after “Excellent points” reminded me of nothing whatever I had written in the piece. It was about questions, not “points;” the only points I made were about how Islam differs from Christianity for Constitutional purposes.

    Let’s not get this thread hijacked. It’s about the confusion of having a Constitutional amendment that was written for one kind of religious system, and whose proper application to a religion-state-governance system like Islam is murky. Christianity is not a religion-state-governance system like Islam.

    Yes, there are questions about Christianity and the First Amendment, but some of Islam’s questions are much more complex. I’m open to thoughtful interaction on those questions here.

  3. Tom –

    I do not know how the First Amendment should be interpreted for those who believe their religion teaches the First Amendment should be tossed aside—along with the rest of the Constitution—in favor of an Islamic version.

    I don’t see it as materially different from, say, how we’ve handled Nazis or Stalinists or whatever. They can say what they like, short of threats or incitement (in the legal sense) or treason. They can lobby for laws, or even Constitutional amendments. They can set up contracts that implement Sharia law to the extent that it’s compatible with U.S. law – but they can’t obligate anyone to agree to them.

    That’s from a legal perspective. From a societal perspective, there are other considerations. But asking about the First Amendment puts this question in the legal category.

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