For years some conservative evangelical Christians have been warning America about sharia. Their concerns are valid, but it’s not Islamic sharia Americans should be concerned about, it’s Christian sharia. Often referred to by its more palatable euphemism of “a Christian nation.”
Founded on the false belief America is a Christian nation, the proponents of Christian sharia would seek to impose their iteration of the Christian faith on all of us. Their iteration of the Christian faith is based partially on their belief in the literal interpretation of the Bible and its inerrancy. A literal interpretation of the Bible would require the cutting off of thieves’ hands, eyes being plucked out for offending, people being stoned to death for adultery or for working on the Sabbath, prohibitions on the wearing of blended fabrics, the ownership of slaves and the practice of polygamy. It’s difficult to believe in the inerrancy of the Bible when it is full of contradictions.
Project Blitz, started in 2015, is the political project of conservative nationalist evangelical activists. Its goal is to hijack the legislative and judicial process as the means to create a Christian theocratic state here in America. Much like what ALEC has done for corporate America, it creates model legislation and policy for Christian nationalists. Those agenda items are then introduced at statehouses across the country. As many as 70 pieces of model legislation created by Project Blitz made their way into statehouses.
Project Blitz categorizes its model legislation into three groups. The first consists of symbolic gestures like requiring the displaying “In God we trust” on public buildings. The second seeks to promote and teach the Christian faith in public schools. Such a bill was proposed in Iowa, HF 2031, but it was so badly written it didn’t make it out of committee. In Iowa, a back-door attempt to Christianize education through vouchers that siphon taxpayer dollars away from public schools in favor of parochial schools was defeated. Recently, the Rev. Franklin Graham stated he wanted Christians to take over every school board in the country. The third is referred to as the “Mississippi missile,” named after HB 1523, a bill that became law in Mississippi in 2016 that allows private employers to discriminate against members of the LGBTQ community using their “sincerely held religious beliefs” as justification. The missiles, of course, are the notion of a “sincerely held religious belief” or “religious liberty” being used as justification for any number of discriminatory or preferential laws.
Christian nationalists justify their goals by false claims of persecution here in the U.S. Being barred from forcing one’s religious beliefs on others does not constitute persecution or discrimination. They ignore the well-documented persecution of Muslims and Jews in the form of violence against them and their houses of worship.
With President Trump’s Commission on Religious Liberty this dangerous ideology has gone national. This commission was formed to combat alleged religious discrimination by those who don’t believe their businesses should serve everyone, believe they should be allowed to discriminate in hiring practices and by religious groups who want to use taxpayer money to discriminate. Tony Perkins, director of the conservative Family Research Council, who came to Iowa in 2010 to campaign against the retention of Iowa Supreme Court judges who ruled in favor of marriage equality, is on this panel. While not explicitly stated, this panel’s mission is to use its influence to create a favored status for Christianity and Christians. Sadly, the U.S. has joined Iran and Saudi Arabia, both of which have religious police that seek to do much the same as the Commission on Religious Liberty has been tasked.
America is and has always been a diverse nation. Diversity is one of our greatest strengths. It only becomes weakness when we allow ignorance, fear and tribalism to divide us. The separation of church and state in a diverse nation is necessary to protect the liberty and freedom of all Americans regardless of how or even if they worship a higher power. Ideologies such as those of Project Blitz and the Commission on Religious Liberty are a threat to those freedoms.