Thursday, November 19, 2015

Closing Mosques: Trump Exposes The Right Wing's Hypocrisy on Religious Liberty

by Nomad

Well, I suppose we ought to be thankful to Donald Trump. Whether it's intentional or not, nobody has done more to expose the abject hypocrisy of so many of the position of the Republican Party than The Donald. 
The tragi-comedic aspect of it all is how so few conservatives actually notice it when the hypocrisy is on full display.

As we all witnessed with the Paris attacks, there is no tragedy too horrific that Republican wouldn't dare to make political use of. While this habit might offend and shock our allies around the world, Americans have become unshockable and somewhat desensitized to it. The rest of the world might call it "shameless" but jaded Americans now just say, "what else is new?"

Republican frontrunner Donald Trump, an opportunist to the core, is certainly no exception. Take the outrageous remark he made  the other day about closing mosques. In order to stop radical Islam, the US government may be forced to close mosques.
He wasn't specific whether he meant particular mosques or all mosques. (A statement like that really demands clarification too.)

In an interview on Fox News  Trump was asked about his earlier statement, Trump refused to back down an inch
"Nobody wants to say this and nobody wants to shut down religious institutions or anything, but you know, you understand it. A lot of people understand it. We’re going to have no choice."
It was, he implied, the only effective way to protect America from attacks like the one we saw on Friday which left 130 Parisians dead. 
Hannity did not seem to think there was anything extraordinary in the suggestion.

In his book, Let Freedom Ring: Winning the War of Liberty over Liberalism  Hannity claims he is, like all true conservatives, a  believer  in the Constitution.
We believe that the principles embodied in the Constitution are enduring, and that to whatever extent we deviate from them we put our liberties at risk. Our views are consistent because we believe in absolute truths and the essential soundness, even righteousness, of the Founder's vision of government.”
One of those principles that Hannity professes to believe in is found in the First Amendment. which among other things protects religions from government interference. There is no question about whether Trump's proposal would violate the First Amendment. 
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press;

Not One Over the Other

In 1947, in the case Everson v. Board of Education ofEwing Township, the Supreme Court ruled
Neither a state nor the federal government may set up a church. Neither can pass laws that aid one religion, aid all religions, or prefer one religion over another. Neither can force a person to go to or to remain away from church against his will or force him to profess a belief or disbelief in any religion… .
The concept of neutrality, emphasized in the quote, means the government can be neither ally nor adversary of religion. That includes all religions, not just the ones that Republicans cater to. 

Clearly, unless Trump is prepared to close down all churches, mosques and synagogues across the country, any executive order closing down mosques, simply because they are a house of worship for Islam is a non-starter. President Trump (ugh!) would be in breach of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which as presidents swear to defend and obey. Trump would, therefore, be heading straight into the impeachment zone.
Of course, that is not to say the laws of inciting violence do not apply. However, even there, Trump's foolish ideas run into problems of hypocrisy.

Monitoring mosques, another idea Sean Hannity has no problem with, would require government agents to likewise attend every church for signs of incitement.  Otherwise, monitoring only mosques would also be in violation of the First Amendment prohibiting the government from favoring one religion over another. 
If preaching violence in a mosque is wrong- and most of us would agree- how can it be permissible in a church or a temple? That's not hypothetical. 

In August, in Tennesse Pastor Ben Bailey of the Central Church of Christ made the headlines (not on Fox News) when he implied that homosexuality was a sin that ought to be punished by stoning.
And still worse, that pastor is by no means unique in his view. There are plenty of examples of Christian churches advocating (some more directly than others) violence against gay Americans. In a Christian church in Arizona or in New York's Harlem have made the news for similar diatribes. 
If you substitute the word "gay" with Jews, or Christians, or infidels and say it in a mosque and it suddenly becomes more offensive?

The Difference between Privilege and Liberty

So, why aren't Trump and Hannity discussing the need to close those religious institutions too? 
Because America is a Christian nation.. only it isn't. 
The Far  Right just keeps saying that.

All this brings up an even more obvious example of conservative hypocrisy. It was only last September when the right wing fury was boiling over Kim Davis and the so-called war on religion. Fox News practically led the crusade.
On September 17, Trump said that Obama was "waging a war against Christians in this country. Their religious liberty is at stake." 
Yet we have never once heard of the president suggesting to close churches that regularly promote violence.

Talking about threats to religious liberty while also advocating the shuttering of mosques should strike most people as assinine, inconsistent or amusing, depending on your temperament. 
For Sean Hannity and Donald Trump and most of the conservative voters, threats to religious liberty are aimed only Christianity.  and perhaps Judaism).

As a person who believes in the long American tradition of religious tolerance, and the separation of Church and State, my first impulse when I hear people like Trump (or any of the other GOP candidates) say such things is to imitate an Edvard Munch painting.

However, in a calming moment, I realize we all owe Donald a very brief round of applause. He is, whether he intends to or not, revealing the double-standard of their conservative position on religious liberty and the non-existent war on religion.

Like Sean Hannity, the conservatives all seem to think the term "religious liberty" applies only to Christians. They are confusing the idea of liberty with the idea of undeserved privilege that used to come with being the boss.