Okay. I’m no expert, so please ignore some of my oversimplifications when it comes to analysis, but here goes:
Apparently (I like that word—it suits my non-committal way of looking at the world), the West and the East, once again, are involved in some huge religious war. (Those of you who are of a spiritual as opposed to a legalistic, religious bent may well not even worry about this.) The Christian and Muslim world views have collided on the highway of extremism. And, folks, this is not to say who is most responsible for the clash because both sides are going to claim they are the first offended party. I’ll leave others to sort that out because that’s not really where I’m going. Rather, let’s talk about Egypt and other parts of the Arab world.
For a very long time, Egypt has been something of an ally of the U.S. and the rest of the western world and perhaps even something of a stabilizing force and something of a partner with Israel in its constant struggle with the more extremist forces in that part of the world. In fact, as late as 2011, former Israeli Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer is quoted as saying, “Egypt is not only our closet friend in the region, the cooperation goes beyond the strategic.” Then agin there was that war back in 1979 leading some to describe the relationship as really more of a “cold peace” as opposed to cold war. Anyway, all those good feels existed under now-deposed Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, who led a decidedly secular government and society. Enter the Arab Spring—exit Mubarak and enter now ex-President Mohamed Morsi, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, who rapidly fell out of favor with a very large segment of the Egyptian population. While a lot of that “apparently” has to do with the Morsi government’s failure to address some economic problems effectively and his grab for complete power including power over the courts, it could have to do with him moving to give nearly all the country’s power to his Muslim brothers, who want to impose Sharia law—Islamic religious codes upon every day life. At least one media outlet, the Voice of Russia, reported that prior to his election, Morsi told a group at Cairo University:
“The Koran is our constitution, the Prophet is our leader, jihad is our path and death in the name of Allah is our goal.… Today we can establish Sharia law because our nation will acquire well-being only with Islam and Sharia. The Muslim Brothers and the Freedom and Justice Party will be the conductors of these goals.”
Well, I’m not sure moves in that direction are going down well in a secular society used to having certain types of freedom, including freedom to conduct commerce when they want, including on holy days, listen to rock and roll, wear something other than traditional “modest” clothing and the like. Similarly, it didn’t go down too well with secular Israelis when ultra-Orthodox Jews in Israel tried to force the government to shut down lucrative nightclubs or stop bus service on the Shabbat.
That said, I understand the motives for both groups. They feel that a healthy society is one that is observant of the laws of GOD; that such laws are the foundation for a moral and just society; and that those laws provide the solution to any problem. Thus, I understand the similar push in the U.S.
While the nation was founded by men who might best be described as deists, that bit of history has evolved into a belief that those men were truly Christian, despite some writing to the contrary by people such as Thomas Jefferson (please take time to look up some of the things Jefferson wrote about religion, including Christianity!). There is a belief that this is a “Christian” nation—sometimes despite evidence of very un-Christ-like behavior toward the sick, the elderly, children, foreigners and other disadvantaged people. Given that, there seems to be a move to institute a Christian-based version of Sharia law in the nation.
For example, opponents of gay marriage, abortion and pornography, to name a few issues, cite the Christian Bible as their reason for opposing such ideas. Indeed, that’s a very fine reason for personal opposition to such. But, when those biblical ideas are cited as a legitimate basis for the formation of civil law, that is akin to a brand of Sharia.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that’s necessarily a bad thing; nor am I saying it’s necessarily a good thing—I’m just saying. Folks who want to see the Bible as a basis of our civil law legitimately can point to an undeniable erosion of ethics, if not morals, in this nation. Who can overlook the plague of violence, drug abuse, immodesty and downright unbiblical incivility that has swept the nation in recent years? Hey, and if you give even the least bit of a care about the future well-being of your children in the world, you can’t ignore that something needs to be done. And, there’s evidence aplenty that a truly Christian way of life has been beneficial and a salvation to many embroiled in a murky, self-destructive life. (Yes, I know some folks are going to talk about some of the sins—including genocide of the indigenous people in this country—committed in the name of Christianity, as well as other religions, as did Jefferson, but that’s another discussion.) So, I can understand the belief that the U.S.’s legal system might do well with a dose of a different brand of “Sharia.”
Of course, that’s not going to go down well with folks who see the U.S. as the bastion of individual freedoms and unfettered free speech because the Bible is clear there are some things we ought not to say as well as do. Nor will it go down well with folks, who like Jefferson, felt there should be a strong and distinct separation of church and state, with the government neither sanctioning or censuring any particular religion. It, however, might come down to a painful reckoning that to bring civility, peace and tranquility to American society might require a sacrifice of a bit of that highly-touted “American rugged individualism” and some freedoms to act and do as we please in our personal lives. Folks might not be able to say, read and write just anything, if one looks to a biblical basis for setting some legal parameters. It eventually would mean folks could be prosecuted not only for sins such as homosexuality, but also adultery, drunkenness (not just drunk driving), using foul language and showing their underwear in public—even thinking the wrong thing, for Christ taught if you think it, it’s as bad as doing it.
At the very least, some might argue having such laws on the books might influence folks to have higher standards about life on a day-to-day basis. Given all that, one might ask if some sort of Christian-based Sharia law—like that which some are pushing in this country might not be the worst idea we’ve ever heard. That said, maybe the ideas of groups of the Muslim Brotherhood or Israel’s Hareidi Jews might not be so alien after all given that a large number of us seem to have similar ideas—just with a different label. I’m just saying…