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March Against Sharia Highlights Conservative Hypocrisy

Conservatives are really trying it. They are really trying it.

American Congress for Truth(ACT), which is defined by the Southern Poverty Law Center as an extremist group, held protests against Sharia in more than twenty American cities two days ago. The group has a long history of being Islamophobic and was founded in response to the 9/11 attacks. Although they claim to “educate citizens and elected officials on national security and defeating terrorism,” they’ve chosen to instead spread wild false information about Islam and push anti-Muslim legislation on all levels of government. They themselves are also poorly educated on Sharia and what it means to the Muslim community today.

Sharia is not what conservatives think it is. Sharia refers to the overall way of Islamist life, and can change and adapt as societal needs change. It is meant to help Muslims lead a “responsible moral life.” Sharia literally translates to “a path that leads to water.” It is a peaceful guide. Yet, it is often confused with Islamic Law, which varies throughout the world and history. A quote from the Muslims for Progressive Values page sums up Islamic Law, “It includes Islamic principles to help guide people to new answers, and it includes common cultural practices that had to do with a specific time and place in history. Muslim rulers wanted a way to make Shari’a into law. To do that, they decided which rules needed to be laws, first. Then they used interpretations of Shari’a to show people that the new laws were Islamic. The result was what we call Islamic Law.”

Nevertheless, the conservative push for separation of church and state is a laughing stock, considering that since the early days of American government inarguably Christian laws have been introduced by them. Delays of the Marriage Equality Act can be traced back to Christian values, with many legislators citing several Bible verses to justify keeping gay couples apart. Additionally, claims that Sharia is violent seem dim against a never-ending list of LGBT hate crimes with conservative Christian motives. Conservative Christians are also notorious for being violently against abortions, with 15 cases of extreme violence due to anti-abortion violence in the last six years (Notice: several cases are unreported to the National Abortion Federation, so this number is low).

In February, a draft of a religious freedom law was leaked to the press, revealing plans to legalize discrimination. The draft focused on protecting organizations that refuse to provide services to people who believe in same-sex marriage, abortion, trans-identity or want access to contraception. Marty Lederman, an expert on separation of church and state, said of the draft, “This executive order would appear to require agencies to provide extensive exemptions from a staggering number of federal laws — without regard to whether such laws substantially burden religious exercise… the exemptions would raise serious First Amendment questions, as well, because they would go far beyond what the Supreme Court has identified as the limits of permissive religious would be astonishing if the Office of Legal Counsel certifies the legality of this blunderbuss order.”

All of these factors seem to make the March Against Sharia even more hypocritical. How can extreme conservatives preach about separation of church and state when their own values seep into American law each day? The hypocrisy and blatant bigotry was not lost on citizens around the nation, as many counter-protests were held to show support for the Muslim community and religious freedom. As a nation, we cannot forget to call out inequality when we see it; failure to do so is fatal to the “all men are created equal” idea we were founded on. Everyone needs to continue to call out hypocrisy and shameful bigotry.

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