BJC says Oklahoma Sharia ban unconstitutional - Word&Way

BJC says Oklahoma Sharia ban unconstitutional

WASHINGTON (ABP) – A Baptist religious-liberty group joined Jewish, Islamic and civil-liberties organizations in urging an appellate court to uphold a ban on Oklahoma’s anti-Sharia law.

The Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty signed on to a friend-of-the-court brief arguing that the 2010 voter-approved bill violates the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment.

Called the “Save Our State” bill by supporters, Oklahoma’s State Question 755 amends the state constitution to forbid courts from considering or using Sharia law, which it defines as “Islamic law” based on the teachings of Muhammad and the Quran.

Approved by 70 percent of voters, the bill is one of two dozen similar options considered since 2009, stemming from alarm by citizens that unless something is done, Americans will eventually be subject to a draconian enforcement of Sharia law.

Last November a federal judge issued a temporary injunction blocking the Oklahoma law, saying there is substantial evidence that it violates the Constitution. The Baptist Joint Committee and others filing the new court document May 16 urged the United States 10th Circuit Court of Appeals to uphold that judgment.

“[T]he Save Our State Amendment, which twice singles out Islam for disapproval without reference to any other religious faith or tradition, violates the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause,” the brief contends.

The brief claims that the intent of the law is to single out Islam for disapproval. Quoting a ruling by the Supreme Court, the brief says the “clearest command of the Establishment Clause is that one religious denomination cannot be officially preferred over another.”

The American Jewish Committee, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, the Anti-Defamation League, the Center for Islamic Pluralism, Interfaith Alliance and Union for Reform Judaism joined the Baptist Joint Committee in the brief filed in the case of Awad v. Ziriax.


Bob Allen is managing editor of Associated Baptist Press.