Baptist Group: Oklahoma’s Sharia Ban Is Unconstitutional

Last year, Oklahoma became the first state to ban the non-existent threat of Islamic Sharia law, jeopardizing Native American rights, Oklahoma businesses, and even the Ten Commandments to do it. But state Republicans’ fervor for this “preemptive strike” — known as the “Save Our State” amendment — hit an inevitable snag of constitutionality, compelling a federal judge to block the law’s implementation. Nevertheless, Oklahoma election authorities appealed the judge’s injunction to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Regardless of what Oklahoma Republicans may think, numerous religious groups view the law as a clear infringement on the First Amendment and are now taking a stand. Last week, the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty (BJC) signed on to an amicus brief urging the 10th Circuit to invalidate the law as it has “the unambiguous effect of communicating official disapproval of Islam”:

“The BJC’s brief argues that the Oklahoma amendment violates the Establishment Clause for two separate and distinct reasons. First, “the amendment’s purpose plainly is to disapprove of the Islamic tradition.” Secondly, “the amendment’s dual specific references to Shari law — and to no other religious tradition — have the unambiguous effect of communicating official disapproval of Islam.”Both reasons put the Oklahoma amendment in violation of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Lemon Test which is used to determine whether a law is in violation of the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause.”

The American Jewish Committee, the Anti-Defamation League, the Center for Islamic Pluralism, Interfaith Alliance, Union for Reform Judaism, and several civil liberties groups joined BJC in signing the brief. Viewing fear as the “driving force” behind state Sharia bans, Texas Baptist pastor Bob Roberts Jr. urged Christians supporting anti-Sharia laws to put their faith in God rather than in legislation. “When we fear to that degree, then we start pushing laws because somebody else’s beliefs make us nervous,” said Roberts.