Daily Archives: February 8, 2008

“Holy” Law?

The Archbishop of Canterbury recently created a stir in Great Britain by suggesting that some elements of Sharia law should be recognized in the British legal system. I had never heard of Rowan Williams until today. The first thing that I noticed is that I liked his accent. Actually, I covet it. I wish that I sounded as smart as he does.

Williams made some interesting points. I agree with his major premise that some elements should be recognized. For example, marriage ceremonies by imams, private dispute resolutions according to Islamic traditions, etc. This would only be allowed in non-criminal matters. All parties would have to agree to it, and the decisions and practices could in no way violate existing laws. Thus, a Muslim couldn’t insist on Sharia principles without consent of the other party and in full alignment with existing British law.

Anything beyond that, I believe would be harmful for British society and would make tensions worse between the various ethnic groups in that country. If Muslims don’t like those apples, they can move to Iran, Egypt or Saudi Arabia. Of course, any accommodation to Sharia principles would have to be approved by parliament and upheld by the courts.

I can sure see how the thought of even a tiny bit of Sharia law would cause concern for the average Brit. Most people hear the term Sharia law and think of stoning, beheading and belittling women. The archbishop was not arguing for those things.  

Sharia law might even seem like an oxymoron for some Westerners. I know that I think of Taliban rule and many fundamentalist Islamic practices as barbaric. Yet, there are some moderate aspects of their tradition that could fit into Western legal systems. In places where harmonization can be reached, we should attempt to find solutions so that we can all live together.

Of course, I would draw a line that preserves the rights of non-Muslims. While Muslims can practice their religion, it should never infringe on the rights of others not to practice it. For example, I would not allow the call to prayer to be broadcast in public except over a radio station or other non-intrusive methods.

Article on the Controversy

http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2008/02/08/europe/EU-REL-Britain-Shariah-Law.php

Interview with BBC

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B0f_vvPUXAU

Barack Obama – A Muslim?

I have received e-mails from a few well intentioned Christians about the “Muslim” background of Barack Obama. Some of the details in this e-mail are accurate yet completely misleading. Other details are exaggerated or completely untrue based on published news sources from reliable journalists.

The e-mail tries to paint a picture that Barack was raised a Muslim as a child and attended a radical school for several years while living in Indonesia. The e-mail raises the question about whether or not Obama is secretly a Muslim who is bent on destroying America.

As a journalist, I have seen many times where accurate information can be twisted to come to the wrong conclusion. I have also seen times where people believed lies because it was too difficult to check things out for themselves. Christians must be careful what we forward to others because it reflects back on us and Christ.

I have no idea if Barack Obama is really a Christian as he claims. That is between him and God. I don’t really know for sure about any person’s salvation other than my own. I will simply have to take Obama at his word. According to published news sources, Obama became a Christian years ago, long before he ran for public office. Thus, I doubt his faith is a marketing ploy.

Of course, someone being a Christian doesn’t impact my vote at all. I vote the person and his/her political beliefs. Obama’s political beliefs are far from my own. Thus, I won’t be pulling the lever for him.

I recently read a post by Mike Slaughter, the lead pastor at Ginghamsburg Church in Ohio. Slaughter wrote, “This email represents racism in one of its most subtle and evil forms. Racism demeans human beings by demonizing character and creating an element of fear…To disagree with a person’s ideas is American. To demean a person’s character is racist and un-Christian. It has no place in the church! ”

I completely agree with Mike Slaughter. Yet I do want to express my concerns about the ideas behind the Trinity United Church of Christ(http://www.tucc.org/home.htm) where Obama is a member. It focuses on black empowerment and African issues, which is fine. I am all for recognizing our roots and encouraging people to stand up for themselves and be proactive in life.

While the Trinity United Church is a multi-ethnic church, it appears to be more focused on race than Jesus. That was my impression after reading its Web site and community magazine. I have never met anyone from this church. And I may have prejudged the community. But I am concerned when a church points to Louis Farrakhan (read the Trumpet magazine) as an honorable community leader. And I also believe that the focus of any church should be Jesus and not people or race. I wonder if what started out as good intentions has quickly become idolatry.

Now, I have no idea where Obama stands. Is he a black man first? Is he democractic first? Is he an American first? Is he a disciple of Jesus first? That would be the first question I would ask Mr. Obama if I ever met him.

Here are some interesting things that Obama has said about religion.