Does the First Amendment Protect Warrior Religions?
By William Kilpatrick
William Kilpatrick taught for many years at Boston College. He is the author of several books about cultural and religious issues, including Psychological Seduction; Why Johnny Can’t Tell Right From Wrong; and Christianity, Islam and Atheism: The Struggle for the Soul of the West and the forthcoming The Politically Incorrect Guide to Jihad. His articles have appeared in numerous publications, including Catholic World Report, National Catholic Register, Aleteia, Saint Austin Review, Investor’s Business Daily, and First Things. His work is supported in part by the Shillman Foundation. For more on his work and writings, visit his website, turningpointproject.com
After every Islamic terrorist attack, whether in Europe or the U.S., people ask what can be done to prevent it from happening again. But when the obvious solutions are proposed, they are invariably met with the objection that “you can’t do that,” or “that’s unconstitutional,” or words to that effect.
Some of the obvious solutions are to close radical mosques and radical Islamic schools, to monitor suspected mosques, to deport radical imams, and, of course, to restrict Muslim immigration or ban it altogether. If you dare to say such things, however, it quickly becomes apparent that—for many, at least—only politically correct solutions are acceptable. The trouble is, the politically correct crowd doesn’t have any solutions. In the memorable words of French Prime Minister Manuel Valls, “France is going to have to live with terrorism.”
Catholics are frequently in the forefront of those who object to these “drastic” measures for preventing terrorism in the West. Pope Francis, for example, has made generosity to refugees and immigrants a hallmark of his papacy. Christians, he has reminded us on several occasions, should build bridges, not walls. Others, Catholics among them, have objected that restrictions on Islamic immigration would violate the freedom of religion guaranteed by the Constitution—as would surveillance of mosques and Islamic societies.
Catholics are understandably touchy about the subject of religious liberty. But concerns over Christians being forced to bake cakes for same-sex weddings shouldn’t be allowed to overshadow some other basic questions about religious liberty.
One of the questions is this: does a religion that doesn’t believe in religious freedom for others qualify for First Amendment protection? Another, related question might be framed as follows: Is a religion that calls for the subjugation of other religions entitled to the “free exercise” of that mandate? The underlying issue, of course, is whether or not Islam really qualifies as a religion. As any number of authorities have pointed out, Islam is a hybrid—part religion and part a geo-political movement bent on world domination.
The “world domination” bit, by the way, is not confined to the fevered imaginations of right-wing fanatics. In a recent interview with Religion New Service, Cardinal Raymond Burke said “there’s no question that Islam wants to govern the world.” “Islam,” he continued, “is a religion that, according to its own interpretation, must also become the State.”
Here’s what I had to say about the matter four years ago:
Does this [the 1st Amendment] make the exercise of religion an absolute right to do anything in the name of religion? Should the free-exercise clause be extended to protect suicide cults or virgin sacrifice? The First Amendment also prohibits the establishment of a state religion, but one of the main purpose of Islam is to establish itself as the state religion. It can be argued that Islam’s raison d’etre is to be the established religion in every nation. Hence, another question must be asked: does the First Amendment protect its own abolishment?
Cardinal Burke is a canon lawyer—a profession that requires one to choose words carefully. Hence, when he talks about Islam becoming the State, he should be taken seriously. According to him, “when they [Muslims] become a majority in any country then they have the religious obligation to govern that country.” As we have seen, however, long before Muslims become a majority they begin demanding that their fellow citizens comply with sharia laws regarding diet, dress, and blasphemy. Allowing Muslims the full and free exercise of their faith is tantamount to restricting the freedom of others. Or, as Dutch MP Geert Wilders likes to say, “more Islam” means “more intolerance” for everyone else.
Wilders is referring to the consequences that follow upon the mass migration of Muslims into Europe. Although his was once a lonely voice, numerous polls show that the majority of Europeans now believe along with him that Islam does not belong in Europe. Pope Francis, on the other hand, has been in the habit of chiding Christians for their opposition to accepting more Muslim immigrants. He recently went so far as to warn them that they will have to answer to Christ at the Last Judgment because he (in the guise of the migrant) was homeless, and they did not take him in.
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