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October 02nd 2015 print

Peter Smith

Church and State, Mosque and Peril

Jesus was quite specific: Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's, and to God what is God's. A political entity as much as a religion, Islam makes no such distinction. That is why, while the Prophet's nominal followers might be trusted with high office, devout believers never should

stars, stripes, crescentContender for the US Republican presidential nomination Ben Carson made the politically incorrect statement some days’ ago that Islam was inconsistent with the American Constitution and, ‘controversially’, that he wouldn’t support a Muslim becoming president. Oh, verily, did the progressives bring down their scorn upon him. If they were not such a bunch of atheists they would have willed God to strike him down. But the operative word Dr Carson used was ‘Muslim’. I will explain.

Take so-called ‘Christians’ who don’t believe that Christ was divine, was crucified and physically rose from the dead on the third day. There are, in fact, such ‘Christians’. John Shelby Spong, the retired American Episcopal bishop, is a prime and prominent example. He’s an outlier, but others head in his direction.

John Shepherd, the then-Dean of St George’s Anglican Cathedral in Perth, made the physical Resurrection an optional extra in his Easter message in 2008:

Well, what I do believe is that, to be a Christian, to be a member of the Christian Church, it is not necessary to believe that the Resurrection of Jesus was an extraordinary physical event which restored to life Jesus’ original, earthly body. The resurrection of Jesus need not be understood as a restored physical reality, but as a new spiritual reality.

Even an Archbishop of Canterbury appeared to doubt the faith. In a millennium message in 1999, George Carey, the then-Archbishop of Canterbury, said this: “I can tell you frankly that while we can be absolutely sure that Jesus lived and that he was certainly crucified on the Cross, we cannot with the same certainty say that we know He was raised by God from the dead.”

I suppose if you can be a ‘Christian’ and doubt the physical Resurrection you can be a ‘Muslim’ and disavow sharia law. I think Dr Carson had in mind the genuine article, the fair-dinkum, the bona fide, the authentic Muslim. He probably thinks, as do I, that self-identification as a Christian or Muslim or Hindu or Buddhist, or whatever faith you care to mention, doesn’t cut the mustard in itself. The question is whether you accept the tenets of the faith in question. That makes you what you are. The claim alone is empty.

If the minister in my church were to doubt the physical Resurrection I would walk out. Quite simply, I want to attend a Christian church not some imagined concoction of a trendy heretic. Somehow, I doubt that such a problem would ever be faced by Muslims attending their mosques.

I seriously doubt you would ever find an imam who would be inclined to place Allah’s law beneath the American Constitution. They may be followers of a false, violent and vengeful prophet but they are made of stern stuff when it comes to their faith.

So Dr Carson was exactly on the money with his comment. A Muslim could not, never mind should not, become an American president because he or she would have to pledge their allegiance to the American Constitution and put it above sharia law. That is not possible. Let me repeat that in case you might think there is an escape clause. It is not possible.

It would, however, be possible for a self-described ‘devout Muslim’ like Dr M Zuhdi Jasser, President of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy. The ‘M’ stands for Mohamed by the way. Ah well, never mind, he can’t help his name.  He served 11 years as a medical officer in the US Navy. He appears to be an all-round good guy. That’s certainly my impression having seen and heard him numbers of times.

Dr Jasser rejects what he calls political Islam, by which he means the conflation of mosque and state. From what I have seen of Jasser, I doubt Carson would have any trouble if he, or someone like him, were to put himself forward for the US presidency. But that is because Jasser is simply not a Muslim.

I saw a debate hosted on Fox News between ratbag, radical UK imam Anjem Choudary and Jasser. Choudary’s most telling retort was to simply say that Jasser is not a Muslim. And he is right.

Self-identification doesn’t do it. Jasser is as much a Muslim as Spong is a Christian. In fact, they have their own faiths. Their views are perfectly compatible with holding high political office, but not at all compatible with holding ecclesiastical office in the religious movements to which they mistakenly believe they belong.

There is however a stark difference at play. Christianity separates church from state by the very words of Christ. Render to Caesar what is Caesar’s. Islam offers no such accommodation. Christians, therefore, can be president. Muslims cannot.

Leave the morally outraged leftists aside. They are a species apart; beyond the reason of sound minds. Those of sound mind better start getting it. Islam is not just another religion. It is a supremacist ideology offering Muslims an eventual and inevitable Allah-given hegemony over unbelievers. It suppresses other religions whenever and wherever it predominates. It is intolerant and, therefore, is inconsistent with a tolerant society and, of course, with the American Constitution.

The fact that a large body of American citizens disqualify themselves from high political office by virtue of their theocratic worldview might prompt some — politically incorrect people (like me) — to ask what the heck they are doing in the Land of the Free in the first place. How did it happen? Ask the political elite. The same question should be asked of the elite in Europe, in the UK, in Australia. What a fine mess!

Peter Smith, a frequent Quadrant Online contributor, is the author of Bad Economics

Comments [8]

  1. Jody says:

    I cannot agree with your comments about unequivocal acceptance of the Resurrection; this is essentially a mythical element of the Christian narrative which is allegorical, testifying to the omnipotent power of the Divine Redeemer – not a statement of ‘fact’ per se. Many Christians happily live with that anomaly, but at least they don’t kill others who don’t follow the doctrine verbatim.

    For me, it is very possible to go to Mass on Sunday (as I did in Vienna – full symphony orchestra/choir/conductor!) to experience the ritual, the Christian values expressed through texts and sermons and belonging to a ‘community’. (It was also one of the only half dozen places where you could go and see the last vestiges of an authentic and original Austrian!! Thanks be to God!!).

    Religion is like politics; you choose your ‘denomination’ and align yourselves with the values which suit your own values system.

    • Bill Martin says:

      You appear to have missed Peter’s point Jody. He is not trying to convince you or anyone else that the devine resurrection of Jesus is true. He is simply demonstrating the salient point relevant to Ben Carson’s stance on Islam and the constitution/presidency of the USA. While anyone of any religion, or no religion, regardless of how strictly they adhere to the tenets of their faith or non-faith, can be a genuine protector and upholder of the US constitution, a Muslim genuinely believing in the indisputable superiority of Sharia law, can not.

      A further important point to be made is the fact that Islam not merely permits its followers to lie and employ all forms of deceit when dealing with non-believers in order to advance the cause of Islam, they are instructed to do so. That, of course, means that a genuine Muslim president would be duty-bound to swear to protect and uphold the US constitution while fully intending to destroy it.

      • Jody says:

        I refer specifically to his comment that if the minister of his church were to “doubt” the Resurrection he (Peter) would ‘walk out’. I was suggesting, and still do, that people of all faiths have varying degrees of adherence to doctrine. I believe it would be no different for the Muslim faith – though fanatics exist. So, I refute the suggestion that somebody who wanted to be President of the USA would necessarily put the fanatical beliefs of his religion first. This is what the Primaries are for – to test people on the basis of what we know about them.

        • Peter says:

          Dear Jody

          I cannot see that you can stand up in a Christian church and recite the Nicene Creed and at the same time doubt the resurrection. People can of course pick and choose which parts of a religion they like. However, when it comes to something as basic as the resurrection I will stick to my view that you can’t doubt it and be a Christian. As to your comment that fanatics exist in the Muslim faith, I simply think that you seriously understate the problem. Pew research consistently shows that a majority in Muslim counties favour death for apostasy or for insulting the prophet. In other words, there are an awful lot of Muslim ‘fanatics’. Regards Peter

          • Jody says:

            I have stood up at Mass in Vienna and recited the Nicene Creed – in German, what’s more!! It’s part of the overall ritual of a collective belief in something beyond self which interest me. For me the NC is a statement of belief in “one holy, Catholic and apostolic church” sans Resurrection (although I can enjoy the Mahler symphony!). There are many people who attend mass and, for one reason or another, have trespassed on the ‘rules’ of the church. That doesn’t stop them practicing their religion is a way which is relevant to them.

            And I may have understated the Muslim “problem” but so has the rest of the world!! I simply say the US Presidential scenario you mention is highly unlikely.

  2. Homer Sapien says:

    Good article Peter, Dr Carson flew for too long under the radar.He deserves more exposure.

  3. Keith Kennelly says:

    A Republican decorated by George W Bush espousing Christian and western values and … sorry an African American Republican decorated by George W Bush denigrating islam and espousing western and christian values.

    That would have lefties choking on their lattes.

  4. psstevo says:

    Absolutely agree with you article Peter. Presently I am finalising my M.Th in Apolgetics debating Islam and Christianity. The facts as you state are correct in every sense. What is really missing is just one Western political or religious ‘leader’ with the understanding of this critical point made by Dr Carson. His recent interview/harangue on CNN demonstrates the incredible ignorance in most of the Western world’s media.