JTA reports today on an issue that is arising in several states.
Legislators are proposing bills which will ban state courts from recognizing or enforcing Islamic Sharia law. It’s rather obvious that any law that would single out Sharia – explicitly – for disparate legal treatment would be an violation of the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment. Other laws that do not single our Sharia by name might pass constitutional muster, but still pose a problem for the enforcement of Jewish law by a Beit Din or other religious laws by other faiths’ tribunals.
For these reasons – both “parochial” (the preservation of the viability of the Beit Din system) and “universal” (the need to preserve the properly broad scope of religious freedom in the United States) – we at the Orthodox Union have joined with others to urge state legislatures not to enact such laws.
It seems worth noting this the day that we admire the accomplishment of the U.S. military and intelligence services in capturing and “rendering justice” to Osama Bin Laden. Muslim Americans are reported as being as thrilled as any American at the murderer’s demise (In stark contrast to Hamas’ condemnation of the U.S. action)
America is a place where people of many faiths live together and we must protect and preserve the freedoms that allow for this reality.
Posted by Nathan J. Diament