Sharia Is Coming! Sharia Is Coming!

rush limbaughAny good Fundagelical can tell you that our society is about to be turned upside down because our Musloid/Episcopal President wants to force every state to adopt Sharia law.

The solution, for many Fundagelicals, is to have the desert states of Arizona, Texas and Utah secede from the Union.  The theory appears to be that States whose business leaders eagerly welcome Saudi oil sheiks and their embrace of enforced wahabi Islam will somehow save themselves from encroaching Sharia law if they get even closer to their Saudi oil buddies.

It is easy to mock the “Sharia is falling” Chicken Littles as they bleat their bigotry.  But it might do us well to reflect on history.  Fifty years ago, the same bigots were stridently warning us that the election of John F. Kennedy would guarantee that our government would be ruled by the Roman Pope.  And everyone knew then that the pope was really the anti-Christ and the handmaiden of Satan.

Sentient Americans scoffed at the threat of a Catholic takeover of our government.  But in less than fifty years, our Supreme Court was devoid of Protestant Justices and was under the firm control of extreme right wing Catholic ‘justices’ whose pro-corporate agenda might well be described as Satanic.  With this precedent, can Sharia law be far behind?

It’s actually difficult to understand the right wing apprehension about Sharia law.  As they describe it, Sharia law means brutal repression of women.  It means violent imposition of narrow interpretations of one minority’s religious beliefs on the whole population.  It means opposition to education and a disbelief in science.

Each of these is a core tenet of the Fundagelical faith.  So what’s the problem?

The people most concerned about Sharia law are also outspoken about the need for our nation to return to life as it was lived in better times.  Times when women weren’t allowed to practice law.  Times when racial minorities had statutorily defined places, and knew enough to stay in them, or risk prosecution.  Times when teachers could force Jewish and Moslem, and Hindu and Buddhist students to recite Christian prayers in the classroom.

But the Fundagelical fear of Sharia rests on a misunderstanding of our nation’s fascinating history of changing legal systems.  Decades before the Pilgrims landed at Plymoth Rock, Spain began colonizing the Carribean, Florida and what would become Latin America.  The Spanish colonies instituted Spanish law.  At the same time, French explorers spread west and south from their Canadian colonies, using the great rivers of the Midwest as highways.

Cities like Dubuque, Jolliet, LaSalle and Marquette remind us of the French colonization and the French legal systems instituted long before there was a United States.  The French territory reached from Canada to the French named New Orleans, located on the shoreline of Louisiana, named after the French king, and ruled by French law.  The French established settlements along the Mississippi and developed trade with the growing Spanish settlements in Texas, all of which were governed by the Spanish legal system.

In 1763, after the Seven Years War, France ceded some of its New World territories to Britain and some to Spain.  Britain accepted Spanish rule and Spanish law in the territories ceded to Spain.  Then Napoleon Bonaparte reacquired the Spanish Louisiana territory in 1800.  The new United States did not dispute either Spanish or French claims to the territory, nor the use of French and Spanish law.  The Louisiana territory extended from the mouth of the Mississippi to Canada, and was larger than the entire collection of ex-British colonies along the east coast.  The legal system in the territory was a mixture of French and Spanish, and varied from place to place.

In 1803, the United States purchased the Louisiana Territory from France.  The Spanish/French government of the Louisiana Territory continued for some time.  There wasn’t even a formal transfer ceremony for the northern part of the Territory, until March of 1804, when flags of the old and new rulers were exchanged, at St. Louis, a French named city, but at that time using mostly the Spanish legal system.

While the United States was buying control of the Louisiana Territory from France and Spain, Florida remained a Spanish territory.  In the 1783 Treaty of Versaille, which ended the American Revolution, Americans agreed that Florida was Spanish.  It wasn’t until 1819 that Spain and the U.S. agreed to transfer Florida to the United States.  As part of the same agreement, the United States renounced any claim to Texas.

So, when the United States took over what would become the states of Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, and Ohio, they each had non-English legal systems.  Their citizens lived under and were used to legal procedures and rules developed by the French and the Spanish governments.

One of the features of Spanish law in Louisiana, Texas and California, was community property.  Under English common law, which governed the original colonies making up the United States, women had few or no legal rights when they married.  Their husbands took control of their property.  They couldn’t go into Court without his permission.  What income came in during the marriage belonged to the husband.

But in the Spanish system, women could own their own separate property before, during and after marriage.  Incomes from both husband and wife were considered to be the property of the marital community.  Women could contract and could take actions in Court, during the marriage.

Under the Spanish and English systems, husbands could be drunken abusers of their wives and children.  But under the community property system drunken abusive husbands were less able to abandon their abused wives in poverty, to become wards of the rest of the taxpayers.

The entire United States has now adopted some form of community property law.  In every state, because of the influence of Spanish law, women have greater rights and greater protection for their own property than they ever had under English common law.  This evolution of law models the American dream.  We accept the best that the world has to offer, and become a better society by doing so.

But the process advances in fits and starts.  Some of our founding fathers had lived in colonies which had official, government sanctioned and enforced religions.  They saw their tax dollars being used to prop up lavish lifestyles for corrupt clergymen while ‘official’ churches used their authority to suppress other religions.  So when they set up our new national government, they built in protection against official religions and oppression of dissenting voices.

Over time, those in power sought to use religion to reinforce their power, despite the Constitutional guarantees of religious freedom.  And for-profit clergymen continued to seek official sanction for religious oppression and bigotry.  In the past few decades, leaders of the far political right have made huge personal fortunes by getting states to fund expensive campaigns to force religious indoctrination in schools, courthouses and other public buildings.  They have sought to enforce religious restrictions on the rights of women, school children and gays.  And now they want to spread fear and enmity to a religious sort of law that restricts the rights of women, school children and gays.

But a marvel of the United States is our commitment to a system that is flexible enough to learn from and adopt good ideas from other systems, such as community property, and strong enough to understand and resist bad ideas, such as the worship of individual greed, championed by the devotees of Ayn Rand or Joseph Smith.

Tom HallSharia isn’t coming to America.  It isn’t going to replace the Bible, or the Constitution, or the pronouncements of Saint Limbaugh, or the sermons of Bishop O’Reilly.  The campaign to demonize Sharia law for embracing the same beliefs as 99% of American Fundagelicals is simply another part of the commercial effort to extract as much wealth and political fear from the illiterate as possible, for the benefit of for-profit preachers and other businessmen.

Tom Hall

Posted: Tuesday, 20 November 2012


  1. Widow Treasure says

    This man is either a completely uninformed idiot, or he’s deliberately lying. Sharia is already being allowed as a defense in US courts: This blogger might try educating themselves on recent history before they start running off at the mouth and telling people not to worry about something that presents a real and present danger to them. They will be held responsible for their lies some day, as will everyone who helps spread the lies.

  2. JoeWeinstein says

    ‘Sharia is coming’ sounds like ‘sky is falling’ – and so concern with the topic seems silly at least here in the USA. However, prior commenters have pointed out two reasons for some concern here. First, the use of alarmism over sharia as a device to sneak in something else of dubious nature. Second, the danger that some localities will allow Moslem communities to violate American standards of liberty by enforcing ‘community standards’ that are as dubious (or more) as were other such religion-driven standards in earlier eras.

    But this article omits the biggest implications for us of ‘sharia is coming’ – namely the eventual effects on global peace (or lack of it) from how ‘sharia is coming’ abroad. Enforcement retro brands of sharia is indeed in prospect in two key newly Islamized states – Egypt and Turkey – as well as already long ago in Iran. This development is not good for the people nor their liberties there, no matter how much the self-deluding Obama administration tries to butter up to this new Islamism and paint it in glowing colors of supposed moderation and progress.

  3. Joseph Maizlish says

    I read the Oklahoma statute and found that it listed both Sharia law AND “international law” as not to be used in the courts of the state. Somebody hitched a ride on Islamophobia to install a prohibition more likely to have a practical effect.

  4. briankk says

    Well, it’s been a long old time since I’ve had to actually look up a word in a dictionary, but “Fundagelical” treed me.

    That’s because, under our system, I can, and have, simply ignored religion and its feuding factions for most of my life. Now comes sharia, which proposes to make me eat Islam and like it, or they propose to kill me. I regard this as a death threat, and reckon killing islamists on sight as a reasonable response.

    I seem to be in a minority with this opinion, but those who actually read widely will come around in the end, I reckon.

  5. harry wood says

    You may not be aware of it, but several young American women have been killed by their father’s, who used sharia law as their reason and justification. After reading what you have written here, those you have demonized, I find it hard to give your words much value even if the subject has value.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *