GOP-led states are tripping over each other to compete for the most absurd response to the perceived threat of Shariah law. Thirteen intrepid states are chasing Oklahoma’s unconstitutional coat-tails to bar any consideration of international or Islamic law, even if it means accidentally banning the Ten Commandments or Native American rights.
But with state Sen. Bill Ketron’s (R) new Senate Bill 1028, Tennessee wins the honor of most radical response to a non-existent threat. Introduced last Thursday, the bill claims that Shariah law “continues to plague the United States generally and Tennessee in particular” and requires Muslims “to actively and passively support the replacement of America’s constitutional republic” with an Islamic state. Thus, adherence to the “legal-political-military doctrine” of Shariah law “is treasonous” and “a felony, punishable by 15 years in jail”:
A proposed new state law would make following the Islamic legal code known as Shariah law a felony, punishable by 15 years in jail.[…]
The bill claims that Shariah law is a danger to homeland security.
“The threat from Shariah-based jihad and terrorism presents a real and present danger to the lawful governance of this state and to the peaceful enjoyment of citizenship by the residents of this state,” the bill reads.
The bill exempts any peaceful practice of Islam.
But it also claims that any adherence to Shariah law — which includes religious practices like feet-washing and prayers — is treasonous.
It would require the state attorney general to investigate Shariah-compliant groups.
State House speaker pro tempore Judd Matheny (R) introduced the companion bill in the Tennessee House. Admitting that he is “still researching” Shariah, Matheny also admitted that the bill “was model legislation, given to him by the Tennessee Eagle Forum,” a right-wing “pro-family” advocacy group dedicated to “self-government and public policy making.”
The group, in turn, “confirmed that the law had been drafted by David Yerushalmi,” a self-professed “expert” on Islamophobia who believes that “Islam was born in violence; it will die that way” and that Muslims should “be taught from the cradle to reject the religion of their forebears.” As the Center For American Progress’ Matt Duss notes, Yerushalmi is a close associate of anti-Islam activist Frank Gaffney and has proposed dealing with America’s Muslim problem by making support or adherence to Islam “punishable by 20 years,” by declaring the U.S at war with the Muslim Nation, by declaring that “all non-US citizen Muslims are Alien Enemies,” and by banning any Muslim an entry visa into the U.S.
Noting that the U.S. Constitution both “trumps religious law” and prohibits the government from labeling religious laws “as wrong or treasonous or evil,” the First Amendment Center’s Charles Haynes takes a slightly different view of the bill: “It’s complete nonsense,” he said.