The law in several states now requires pro-life pharmacists to dispense the morning-after pill, Christian adoption agencies to place children with same-sex couples, and religious entities to pay for their employees’ contraceptives. The list of such violations of religious freedom keeps growing, along with the insistence that religious beliefs be kept private. The recent spate of “anti-Sharia” initiatives is just the most politically popular example of such threats.
Though popular with secularists and religious conservatives, anti-Sharia legislation does not defend against theocracy but calls into question our society’s fundamental commitments to meaningful religious liberty and meaningful access to the courts. These commitments have been relied on by generations of Protestants, Catholics, Mormons, and Jews, and to try to remove them for Muslims both is unjust to Muslims and sets a dangerous precedent for other religious groups.
Yet some religious Americans have come to fear that “creeping Sharia” threatens our legal system and our freedoms. Proposals to legislate against Sharia’s use in the courts have been offered in dozens of states. This attack on the ancient system of Islamic law, a broad and diverse legal code that, like Halakhic law, governs everything from how to contract a marriage to how to prepare a meal, imperils the religious liberty of all Americans.