Monday, November 16, 2015

Trump Is A Conservative An Anti-Religious Nut-Job

Well, I suppose he could be both, even at the same time. But anyone who claims to support the First Amendment view of freedom of religion in America can't go shooting off his mouth like this:

Businessman and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said the U.S. will have to "strongly consider" shutting down some of the country's mosques during a Monday morning interview on MSNBC's "Morning Joe."

After the attacks that rocked central Paris and killed more than 100 people, the French interior minister called for the closing of radical mosques in France.

On MSNBC, host Joe Scarborough asked, if President, would Trump consider closing mosques?

"I would hate to do it but it would be something that you're going to have strongly consider," Trump said. "Some of the ideas, some of the hatred, absolute hatred, is coming from these areas."

Perhaps some of the problems do come from "these areas," but their solutions emphatically do not, at least in a nation that wants to be taken seriously in its claim to offer freedom of religious belief.

Religion is about belief, and belief is precisely what is protected by the First Amendment against government infringement.

All belief is protected. But not all action deriving from that belief is protected: your religion can lead you to believe in, say, ritual human sacrifice, but the First Amendment confers no right to perform such sacrifices; murder is still murder. Still, the First Amendment does not permit anyone to shut down meeting places of selected religious groups or treat them differently under law. Those who murder or threaten to murder can be arrested and charged under law, but their houses of worship may not be tainted by the fact that murderers attend.

I am not saying this is easy. We appear to have some evidence that some Muslims indeed want their ritual sacrifices in the name of their god, and are willing to misuse individual mosques in pursuit of such terroristic murders. But we still do not have a right to shut down places of worship because some bad people attend them and try to use them for nefarious purposes. If that were the case, I could surely compile a list of various Christian denominations whose most radical churches should be shut down... oh, never mind; don't get me off the topic here. The simple version is this principle: shutting down places of worship is not a valid or viable solution to the problem that some criminally or terroristically inclined people do their organizing at or through those places. The terrorists may of course be pursued— their religious institutions may not.

And besides, shutting down mosques is surely a self-fulfilling act. Shut down mosques, and you will justify acts by the very terrorists you wish to stop. Why is this so hard for some people to understand?

And so we come full circle to the antireligious Mr. Trump. Those who are contemplating voting for him should think long and hard: Will the GOP always offer presidential candidates who will shut down only mosques? or could the practice extend to churches? or synagogues? or your very own house of worship?

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