Here are some of the highlights:
This bill defines "sharia" as the set of rules, precepts, instructions, or edicts which are said to emanate directly or indirectly from the god of Allah or the prophet Mohammed and which include directly or indirectly the encouragement of any person to support the abrogation, destruction, or violation of the United States or Tennessee Constitutions, or the destruction of the national existence of the United States or the sovereignty of this state, and which includes among other methods to achieve these ends, the likely use of imminent violence.
A couple of things: Since Christian Arabs also use the term "Allah" for God, I wonder if one could argue that Arab churches are also "sharia organizations"? Also, depending on how you read "abrogation" this seems to include even peaceful attempts to amend (abrogate) the constitutions of Tennessee or the US. Also, since a constitution isn't a physical object in the first place, what does it actually mean to cause its "destruction"? And since the US Constitution is a basic text for detailing the structure of government bodies and agents, is it something which individuals can violate? I mean, I have a sense of what it may mean for the President, or Congress or the Supreme Court to violate the Constitution, but I'm honestly not sure what it means for Joe or Zayd down the street to do so. In any case, in spite of the difficulties with the above definition, I can almost understand a bill which singled out "bad Muslims" from "good Muslims" but the definition in the bill actually continues:
Under this bill, any rule, precept, instruction, or edict arising directly from the extant rulings of any of the authoritative schools of Islamic jurisprudence of Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi'i, Hanbali, Ja'afariya, or Salafi, as those terms are used by sharia adherents, is prima facie sharia without any further evidentiary showing.
In other words, the overwhelming majority of mainstream, traditional Muslims (both Sunni and Shia) are going to be lumped together with any Muslims who are trying to destroy "the national existence of the United States" without any specific evidence of violent or criminal behavior.
The bill then goes on to criminalize "sharia organizations" (basically, any two Muslims) and makes it a felony to give such "groups" material support.
It would be hard for me to overstate just how stupid and ill-conceived I think this bill is. I would say that the bill is retarded if it weren't so insulting to retarded people.
- The bill is clearly a violation of the first amendment of the U.S. Constitution. What part of "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof" don't they understand?
- Even if it wasn't such a literal violation of the bill of rights, trying to criminalize religious activity is anti-democratic.
- Even if non-Muslims are scared of having the shariah imposed on them without their consent, again, that pesky First Amendment already prevents that from happening making an anti-shariah bill unnecessary.
-The alleged reason for the anti-sharia bill is to protect US citizens from "homegrown" terrorism. But as the folks at Loonwatch have most ably pointed out, all terrorists are Muslims... except for the 94% that aren't. If we are really serious about protecting the homeland, then we need to look at the causes of violence regardless of what flag it may fly under. (I hope that the IRA supporting Rep. King is listening.)
-A question: I wonder how many of these anti-sharia fear-mongers are Christians who are willing to use the government to impose their view on abortion, homosexuality, or US Middle Eastern policy on citizens who don't share their view. Just curious.
- Even if there was some honest (but ill-conceived) concern that Muslims would magically take over the country and adulterers would suddenly be stoned (with rocks) on the White House lawn or women would suddenly lose the right to drive to work (or drive... or work), there are more constructive ways to handle those issues without demonizing Muslims and conflicting with the First Amendment. By all means, strengthen laws against spousal abuse or other forms of domestic violence across the board. Pass the ERA. Strengthen the rights of criminals against cruel and unusual punishment. If you think "they" are the enemy the "defeat" them by being the best "you" that you know how to be.
Text of SB 1028
Summary of B 1028 from State Congressional Website
Loonwatch: Bill Would Make it Illegal to Be Muslim in Tennessee
The American Muslim: David Yerushalmi and (in)SANE
Huffington Post: Tennessee Considers Bill That Makes Following Shariah A Felony