Islam is a religion, and therefore protected by the Constitution

Shariah law is religious law, but because it is the law of a demonized religion associated with terrorism and anti-Americanism, Brandon can label it political, depriving it of First Amendment protections. I don’t assume this is a cynical ploy. Blinded by bigotry and their notions of “true” and “false” religions, Islamaphobes may be sincere in the counter-factual belief that Islam is purely political.

That belief is essential to the claim that Shariah law can’t be tolerated because it conflicts with the Constitution. Once you acknowledge that Islam is a religion and Shariah law is religious, its conflicts with secular law become arguments for, not against, religious liberty. Of course, Shariah law is inconsistent with the Constitution. So are the tenets of Catholicism, Judaism (especially orthodox Judaism), and most if not all other faiths….

Religious and secular laws often conflict; that’s precisely why we have a First Amendment. It provides a legal framework for ensuring that religion and government can “co-exist.” If religious law were categorically subordinate to the Constitution (as Joe Brandon imagines Shariah law should be), then the Catholic Church would be required to ordain women, Orthodox Jews would have to sit together in shul, and religious groups that oppose gay marriages would be required to perform them.

It’s not hard to imagine the uproar that would greet the slightest hint of official interest in violating such basic guarantees of religious liberty, especially if directed against majority or respectable, minority religious practices.

Wendy Kaminer demolishes the arguments of Joe Brandon, attorney for the plaintiffs in the lawsuit against the Murfreesboro Islamic Center

The Atlantic, 30 May 2012