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September 04, 2011

The crusade against Sharia Law is eerily reminiscent of 19th century Anti-Semitism

Don’t Fear Islamic Law in America - NYTimes.com
MORE than a dozen American states are considering outlawing aspects of Shariah law. Some of these efforts would curtail Muslims from settling disputes over dietary laws and marriage through religious arbitration, while others would go even further in stigmatizing Islamic life: a bill recently passed by the Tennessee General Assembly equates Shariah with a set of rules that promote “the destruction of the national existence of the United States.” Supporters of these bills contend that such measures are needed to protect the country against homegrown terrorism and safeguard its Judeo-Christian values. The Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich has said that “Shariah is a mortal threat to the survival of freedom in the United States and in the world as we know it.” This is exactly wrong. The crusade against Shariah undermines American democracy, ignores our country’s successful history of religious tolerance and assimilation, and creates a dangerous divide between America and its fastest-growing religious minority. The suggestion that Shariah threatens American security is disturbingly reminiscent of the accusation, in 19th-century Europe, that Jewish religious law was seditious. In 1807, Napoleon convened an assembly of rabbinic authorities to address the question of whether Jewish law prevented Jews from being loyal citizens of the republic. (They said that it did not.) . . .

September 03, 2011

Mosaic law has some surprising rules

Sometimes people try and say we should follow the Bible as law, but the Bible has some pretty weird quirks in it. Can you imagine if in America every 50 years we gave the entire country back to the Native Americans? Rich Dominionists in an Age of Hypocrisy | slacktivist
Under Moses’ law, land could be sold and purchased, but not in perpetuity. In the year of Jubilee, every 50 years, all property would revert back to the families that originally owned it. The Jubilee year also brought with it the forgiveness of all debts and the emancipation of all slaves (this was mainly debt-slavery, not American-style chattel slavery with its legal and religious blessing of torture, rape and kidnapping). Debts were also to be forgiven in the Sabbath years, which came every seven years. Moses’ law also required two separate streams of tithing — one for the tabernacle or temple and one for the poor. This was not voluntary, but a mandatory and explicit redistribution of wealth. (Moses was way more of a statist than Sider ever dreamed of being.) In addition, there were a host of laws governing gleaning, harvesting and picking crops that forbade landowners from maximizing their harvests. Some of the grain, fruits and vegetables were required to be left in the field or on the vine so that they could be picked by the needy. And on top of all that, the books of Moses are also filled with repeated blanket injunctions commanding everyone to be “open-handed” and to give freely and generously to the poor, to widows, orphans and strangers.

August 31, 2011

Miroslav Volf on reconciling Christianity and Islam

I'm not a Christian or a Muslim, but I think that focusing on common ground between the two religions sounds like a good idea. I mean, look how well it worked for Catholics and Protestants! I'm sorry, that was unfair. Seriously, this guy makes sense. Moving from Exclusion to Embrace: Miroslav Volf on Christianity and Islam
. . . I am not sure whether or not these acts of exclusion emanate from our failure to repent. Maybe. Then we would reason something like this: Since we stand by our violence against Muslims in the past, we are justified to perpetrate violence against them today. My sense, though, is that today's exclusions stems from fear and from the need to generate enemies so that we can justify our own need for violence. Clearly, concern about "creeping sharia" in the United States is absurd; chances that sharia will be implemented in the United States are only slightly better than that Martians will invade. And yet people are really exercised by the perceived threat of Muslims "taking over America." A few exceptions notwithstanding, there is no real enemy to speak of, but people create the enemy. Why? Because they harbor enmity and are plagued by fear and resentment. This is a deeply unchristian stance. We are supposed to love enemies and, if possible, make friends of them; we are not supposed to manufacture enemies so we can have targets for our fears and resentments. . . .