Target: Jay Nixon, Governor of Missouri
Goal: Convince Missouri’s governor to Veto anti-Islamic legislation
After passing through the house and senate of the state legislature, the controversial Missouri Bill SB-267 is now a governor’s signature away from going into effect. This bill is a tragic example of legislative cultural insensitivity, essentially serving as an anti-Sharia bill that completely countermands Islamic culture. Such a law would only foster greater mistrust among the Islamic community, causing far more harm than good.
Sharia itself is the moral code and religious law of Islam. It covers a great many topics that are traditionally addressed by secular law such as crime, politics, economics, and other personal matters. It also varies somewhat between specific cultures due to different interpretations, though in its strictest definition it is considered the infallible law of god.
The Missouri bill states that is merely a defense of civil liberties, mandating that “any court, arbitration, tribunal, or administrative agency ruling shall be unenforceable if based on a foreign law which is repugnant or inconsistent with the Missouri constitution.” While one could argue the fairness of the term inconsistent – as it is essentially states that law running entirely contrary to the constitution cannot be upheld – the use of “repugnant” is much more concerning. This leaves the bill’s legal precedent far too open to subjectivity. Given that it is primarily a response to the hot-button issue of religious rights/persecution, such vague and interpretive terms should never be used.
In a nation built upon freedom from persecution, a law such as this puts an enormous caveat in just when and where that freedom is to be applied. To both foster improved relations with practitioners of Islam and support the tenants of freedom with which this nation was founded this bill must not become law.
Dear Governor Nixon,
The controversial Missouri bill known as SB-267 is an affront to cultural respect and religious freedom. This bill may not invoke Sharia and Islam specifically within its lexicon for obvious reasons, but there can be no doubt as to the target of this legislation. To pass a law primarily aimed at one specific culture of any kind is tragic, however it is especially concerning when it pertains to a culture that is already at a crossroads within the United States as the perception of persecution pervades within the post 9-11 national zeitgeist.
As a bill putting Sharia squarely within its crosshairs, this piece of Missouri legislation attempts to use the defense of civil liberty as its rationale for sewing further distrust between cultures. It states within the bill that “any court, arbitration, tribunal, or administrative agency ruling shall be unenforceable if based on a foreign law which is repugnant or inconsistent with the Missouri constitution”. If it merely allowed for the specific (albeit poorly worded) definition of inconsistent with the constitution then arguments could be made on its behalf as a simple clarification with regards to upholding pervasive law. By adding the indeterminate vagary of the word repugnant into the text far too much space for interpretation is allowed. What may be commonly accepted by certain cultures (such as aspects of Sharia which still fall essentially within the constraints of constitutional freedom) may be deemed morally repugnant by others. This is not a field that should be left to judgment. If the original tenants of this nation such as freedom from persecution, religious or other, are to be upheld then Missouri Bill SB 267 must never be allowed to become a law.
[Your Name Here]
photo credit: Jonathunder via Wikimedia Commons