Church And State, The Wall, Etc.

Ken AshfordBlogging, Godstuff, War on Terrorism/TortureLeave a Comment

Christian conservative blogger LaShawn Barber has issues with Iraq’s draft constitution.  In particular, she is troubled by the contradictions within.  One clause reads "No law may contradict Islamic standards"; the very next one says "No law may contradict democratic standards". 

LaShawn asks:

Aren’t Islam and democracy inherently contradictory? What kind of shell game are these people playing?

She’s 100% right, of course.  Democracy cannot be a theocracy (and vice versa).

But her comments present a problem with the religious right, of which LaShawn claims to be  a part of.  The same contradictions plague those who want to make America a "Christian nation", by having forced school prayer, etc.

For example, LaShawn seems to recognize that there is nothing inherently wrong with being a Muslim in Iraq’s new "free society".  But, she asks, what about those who choose not to be?  Should they be second-class citizens in the eyes of their Iraqi government?

No, LaShawn, they shouldn’t.  The role and duty of freedom-loving government is to ensure that all religious thought and expression (or even non-religious views) have a chance to thrive.   

But that applies to our free government as well as Iraq’s. 

So when you think that lawmakers in the United States should establish morals based on their wholly religious beliefs (as you do here), you forfeit the right to complain about the Iraq constitution’s glaring contradiction. 

Or, at the very least, you owe it to your readers to explain your apparent hypocrisy.

UPDATE:  On re-reading this post, I want to dispel the impression that I am LaShawn-bashing.  I just don’t understand the what-is-bad-for-the-gander (Iraq) reasoning doesn’t apply to "the goose" (the United States) as well.  And LaShawn isn’t as firebreathing as many on her religious right brethren about mixing religious beliefs with government laws.   But I wonder if she sees any parallels at all between the constitution that Iraq has, and the U.S. Constitution as some Christian conservatives would like to interpret it.

Meanwhile, Bill Riggio sticks his head in the sand.  He looks at the proposed Iraqi Constitution, and says the prominence of Islam does not necessarily threaten the notions of democracy:

The real test of Iraq’s commitment to democratic principles under the influence of Islam will come with the implementation of the constitution by the next elected assembly. But to state an Islamist regime has been created based on the text of the constitution is unfounded. A simple reading of the document will reveal this.

It’s not the document that worries people.  It’s the Islamic principle: ""Never will such a nation succeed as makes a woman their ruler."   It seems to me that this alone means (or could reasonably mean) that a woman shall never serve in a position of authority.  Some democracy, that.

And why is it unreasonable to think that Islamic purists (not to mention extremists), once they have their foot in the door, might take the language of the Constitution and at least try to extend Islam’s influence?  Is Riggio, I wonder, considering the rather bloody history of Islam in the Middle East, or is this more right-wing wishful-thinking foreign policy punditry?