If someone were to ask me to define irony, I would point to yesterday’s news from the North Carolina legislature. In an 11th hour legislative sneak attack session in the state Senate, severe abortion restrictions were attached onto another bill. These restrictions limiting access to procedures are so onerous they would effectively eliminate all options from many patient populations.
[Enter irony, stage right:] the bill that the abortion restrictions were attached to was an effort to limit Sharia (or Islamic) law under the title"Family, Faith, and Freedom Protection Act of 2013." Who knew that we were at risk of a new Caliphate springing forth in the backwoods of North Carolina to impose Sharia law upon unsuspecting Tar Heels? At first glance, it is ironic whenever one theocratic movement attacks another theocratic institution (it is after all the same common God of Moses and Abraham, right?).
Those on the offense against the straw man specter of Sharia law are of course the same right-wing Christians who claim our country was founded on Christian principles, despite all evidence to the contrary (then and today). They are the same right-wing Christians who wish to display the Ten Commandments in the public sphere or introduce prayer into public schools. They are the same right-wing Christians who love the family so much they make it harder for people to enter monogamous, life long bonds with the backing of law. They are the same right-wing Christians who are so strong on family values that they create economic conditions that undermine the family unit.
Ironically, these right-wing Christians are the same political base that widely supported and continues to support the never-ending War on Terror, ignoring what Jesus – the Prince of Peace - said about violence, forgiveness, and all of that stuff against the worst side of humans’ nature. These are also the same right-wing Christians who seem ignorant of two key implications of their preferred foreign policy course: 1) Iraq and Afghanistan’s American-influenced constitutions follow Sharia law and 2) Iran – a Muslim theocracy – now enjoys a larger role in Iraqi politics and the wider region. Ironically, our foreign policy – widely supported by the Christian right – has done much to spread Sharia’s influence abroad. Meanwhile at home, there is an ongoing effort to install Christian laws here while going to absurd lengths to ban Sharia law in American courts. (Perhaps this red, white, and blue native version of the Taliban doesn’t like potential rivals in its attempt to spread Christian theocracy). These are of course the same right-wing Christian legislators who are so pro-life they want to see restrictions on guns lifted, which of course kill thousands more every year than the Taliban or Al Qaeda have (or could). Apparently the “pro-life” values only apply in utero. This would all be the stuff of comedy if it weren’t so sad.
During today’s July fourth celebrations, we need to be alarmed by the rising tide of religious fundamentalism that seeks to impose its will upon our secular values, Enlightenment values upon which our secular state was built. To be clear, I am a cultural Christian who respects the broad spirit of what Jesus said about many things, things like materialism, forgiveness, and love. But today, I will not celebrate “one nation under god,” as that sort of contrived rhetoric came to us not in 1776 or 1789 but in the 1950s. Instead I will celebrate and do my part as a citizen to maintain the crucial “wall of separation” between religion and the secular state. If North Carolina’s "Family, Faith, and Freedom Protection Act” was passed to protect us from the impending threat of Islamic theocracy in the United States (which is of course wildly unconstitutional), we secular citizens must loudly call out the irony that the Christian Right represents: the American Taliban.