A Law to Ban the Ten Commandments – from a Republican?

Jan 15 2011 Published by under Uncategorized

Rep. Leo Berman - Hypocrisy is Tiring

I think the Religious Right may have outsmarted itself. In trying to do an end-run around blockages to laws which would ban Sharia Law, one Texas lawmaker has come up with the brilliant plan to create a blanket ban on “religious or cultural law.”

Rep. Leo Berman (R-TX) says, “A lot of federal courts are referring to international courts and laws of other countries. We want to make sure our courts are not doing this, especially in regards to cultural laws. If that includes Sharia law, then so be it.”

This is the same guy, by the way, who

  • Has tried to engineer an end-run for Texas Creationists to offer non-scientific Masters Degrees in Science;
  • Has authored a Arizona immigration-style law; and
  • Who last November introduced a law to “require any candidate for president or vice president of the United States to show his or her birth certificate to the Texas secretary of state,” because “we have a president whom the American people don’t know whether he was born in Kenya or some other place.”

Now he has set his sights on Islam.

You say you want only American law, Mr. Berman. You realize, of course, that the Ten Commandments you right-wingers are always touting are not American law, don’t you? The Ten Commandments are not so much as mentioned in the Constitution or the Bill of Rights. They are not mentioned in the Declaration of Independence. The English Common Law passed down and affirmed through the Bill of Rights has more to do with ancient Pagan Roman law than the Ten Commandments.

You do get all this, right?

Here is the resolution – the really important part boldfaced:

82R1082 CAE-D
By: Berman H.J.R. No. 57
proposing a constitutional amendment prohibiting a court of this
state from enforcing, considering, or applying a religious or
cultural law.
SECTION 1.  Article V, Texas Constitution, is amended by
adding Section 32 to read as follows:
Sec. 32.  A court of this state shall uphold the laws of the
Constitution of the United States, this Constitution, federal laws,
and laws of this state. A court of this state may not enforce,
consider, or apply any religious or cultural law.
SECTION 2.  This proposed constitutional amendment shall be
submitted to the voters at an election to be held November 8, 2011.
The ballot shall be printed to permit voting for or against the
proposition: “The constitutional amendment prohibiting a court of
this state from enforcing, considering, or applying a religious or
cultural law.”

Now, for this interesting proposal to become more than Berman’s wet-dream and be legislated into law, it will have to be passed by both chambers of the Texas legislature – and, of course, by Texas voters this November.

What’s interesting is that the Constitution’s First Amendment already says this, in essence, by prohibiting government from pushing any particular religion (and this would include religious laws). This makes Berman’s efforts a little redundant, not to mention hypocritical, given the efforts being made by right-wingers to subvert the First Amendment on behalf of Christian Sharia Law – the Ten Commandments.

It turns out Ibrahim Hooper, of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a D.C.-based civil rights advocacy group, agrees, saying that the proposal is hypocritical and that “Based on the proposal, he obviously must be against the Ten Commandments.”

Mr. Hooper also points out a few other consequences of such legal sleight-of-hand Mr. Berman might not have considered:

Births, deaths, wills and marriages that include a person’s faith would be null and void, including references to Jewish law in a marriage contract or specifying to be buried in a Catholic cemetery in a will, under the resolution’s logic, Hooper said.

Which will give? Mr. Berman and others like him can’t have it both ways and we can’t protect people like Mr. Berman from themselves. People have a right to be bigots and they have a right to be idiots.

But they can’t ban one religious law and campaign on behalf of another if all religious laws are banned. Look at how much opposition to same-sex marriage rests on the Bible. Look at the opposition to abortion, also Bible-based. Most of the morality platform of the Republican Party rests on Bible passages, however much they’ve been distorted, misunderstood, misapplied, or taken out of context.

I rather like the image of Mr. Berman shooting himself in the…er…foot, but I’m not sure that’s what he intended.

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