After every Islamic terrorist attack, whether in Europe or the U.S., people ask what can be done to prevent it from happening again. But when the obvious solutions are proposed, they are invariably met with the objection that “you can’t do that,” or “that’s unconstitutional,” or words to that effect.
Some of the obvious solutions are to close radical mosques and radical Islamic schools, to monitor suspected mosques, to deport radical imams, and, of course, to restrict Muslim immigration or ban it altogether. If you dare to say such things, however, it quickly becomes apparent that—for many, at least—only politically correct solutions are acceptable. The trouble is, the politically correct crowd doesn’t have any solutions. In the memorable words of French Prime Minister Manuel Valls, “France is going to have to live with terrorism.”
Catholics are frequently in the forefront of those who object to these “drastic” measures for preventing terrorism in the West. Pope Francis, for example, has made generosity to refugees and immigrants a hallmark of his papacy. Christians, he has reminded us on several occasions, should build bridges, not walls. Others, Catholics among them, have objected that restrictions on Islamic immigration would violate the freedom of religion guaranteed by the Constitution—as would surveillance of mosques and Islamic societies.
Catholics are understandably touchy about the subject of religious liberty. But concerns over Christians being forced to bake cakes for same-sex weddings shouldn’t be allowed to overshadow some other basic questions about religious liberty.
One of the questions is this: does a religion that doesn’t believe in religious freedom for others qualify for First Amendment protection? Another, related question might be framed as follows: Is a religion that calls for the subjugation of other religions entitled to the “free exercise” of that mandate? The underlying issue, of course, is whether or not Islam really qualifies as a religion. As any number of authorities have pointed out, Islam is a hybrid—part religion and part a geo-political movement bent on world domination.
The “world domination” bit, by the way, is not confined to the fevered imaginations of right-wing fanatics. In a recent interview with Religion New Service, Cardinal Raymond Burke said “there’s no question that Islam wants to govern the world.” “Islam,” he continued, “is a religion that, according to its own interpretation, must also become the State.”
Here’s what I had to say about the matter four years ago:
Does this [the 1st Amendment] make the exercise of religion an absolute right to do anything in the name of religion? Should the free-exercise clause be extended to protect suicide cults or virgin sacrifice? The First Amendment also prohibits the establishment of a state religion, but one of the main purpose of Islam is to establish itself as the state religion. It can be argued that Islam’s raison d’etre is to be the established religion in every nation. Hence, another question must be asked: does the First Amendment protect its own abolishment?
Cardinal Burke is a canon lawyer—a profession that requires one to choose words carefully. Hence, when he talks about Islam becoming the State, he should be taken seriously. According to him, “when they [Muslims] become a majority in any country then they have the religious obligation to govern that country.” As we have seen, however, long before Muslims become a majority they begin demanding that their fellow citizens comply with sharia laws regarding diet, dress, and blasphemy. Allowing Muslims the full and free exercise of their faith is tantamount to restricting the freedom of others. Or, as Dutch MP Geert Wilders likes to say, “more Islam” means “more intolerance” for everyone else.
Wilders is referring to the consequences that follow upon the mass migration of Muslims into Europe. Although his was once a lonely voice, numerous polls show that the majority of Europeans now believe along with him that Islam does not belong in Europe. Pope Francis, on the other hand, has been in the habit of chiding Christians for their opposition to accepting more Muslim immigrants. He recently went so far as to warn them that they will have to answer to Christ at the Last Judgment because he (in the guise of the migrant) was homeless, and they did not take him in.
But, although charity is the paramount Christian virtue, there is another virtue that governs the exercise of charity. It’s called “prudence.” And prudence would suggest that spiritual leaders and secular leaders should exercise caution when advocating acts of charity that put the lives of others at risk. In Europe, there are now numerous prudential reasons for slowing or halting the flow of Muslim immigration: the Charlie Hebdo massacre, the Bataclan Theater massacre, the massacres at the Brussels airport and subway, the massacre at Nice, the Munich mall massacre, the axe attack aboard a German train, the bomb attack on a wine bar in the city of Ansbach, and the New Year’s Eve sexual assaults which targeted over 1,200 German women.
The most recent outrage was the slaughter of a French priest, Fr. Jacques Hamel, by two Islamic terrorists who burst into a church in Normandy during Mass and slit his throat. Pope Francis condemned the attack, but on the same day in Krakow he spoke once again about the need to welcome refugees. He called for “solidarity with those deprived of their fundamental rights, including the right to profess one’s faith in freedom and safety.”
But how about the right of Christians and Jews to profess their faith “in freedom and safety?” Fr. Hamel is no longer free to profess his faith, and now that the Islamic State has proclaimed its intention to target more churches in Europe, Christians are going to feel considerably less safe at Sunday service. Jews in Europe already know the feeling. Most synagogues in Europe are now protected by security guards during Saturday services.
But if you really want to see the European future, just look at those nations where Muslims are already a majority. In Nigeria, where Muslims make up about 60 percent of the population, Christians are regularly attacked during church services, and on some occasions entire congregations have been burned alive inside their churches.
All of which prompts a question: should Western nations passively stand by as their own population balance shifts in the direction of Nigeria’s? A curtailment or a moratorium on Muslim immigration is one of the obvious solutions to the problem of terrorism in the West. But, as I’ve suggested above, many Americans think that such a moratorium would be unconstitutional. After all, doesn’t the Constitution forbid a “religious test” in scrutinizing immigrants? Indeed today’s top news story concerns the attack on Donald Trump by the father of a slain Muslim soldier. At the Democratic Convention, Khizr Khan challenged Trump’s proposed ban on Muslim immigration by asking: “Have you even read the U.S. Constitution?”
In fact, the Constitution has no ban on a religious test for immigration. In a recent National Review piece, Andrew McCarthy points out that Article VI of the Constitution states that “no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.” The clause has nothing to do with immigration and, as our bien pensants like to say, it has nothing to do with Islam.
The McCarran-Walter Act of 1952 actually gives the president wide latitude in restricting immigration:
Whenever the president finds that the entry of aliens or any class of aliens into the United States would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, the president may … suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens as immigrants or non-immigrants or impose on the entry of aliens any restrictions he may deem to be appropriate.
One of the main intents of the act was to prevent communist ideologues from entering the country, but it was also invoked in 1979 by President Jimmy Carter to keep Iranians out of the U.S. And—surprise—according to McCarthy, “under federal law, the executive branch is expressly required to take religion into account in determining who is granted asylum.” As McCarthy notes:
We have a right to require scrutiny of the beliefs of aliens who petition for entry into our country … this includes beliefs the alien may regard as tenets of his faith—especially if such ‘faith tenets’ involve matters of law, governance, economy, combat and interpersonal relations that in our culture’s separation of church and state are not seen as spiritual.
In short, if you believe your religion allows you to execute apostates or subjugate infidels, don’t bother to apply.
When Pope Francis visited Poland for World Youth Day, security in Krakow was at its highest level. Forty thousand security personnel were deployed and, according to The Guardian:
Mobile X-ray devices and metal detectors, as well as dogs trained to detect explosives, are in use at railway and bus stations, major road hubs and venues where papal events are due to take place. Police said that gas tankers and large trucks had been banned from Krakow following the use of a 19-ton truck in a terrorist attack in Nice earlier this month.
Does that suggest anything? Are the officials worried that Protestants or Jews are going to attack the Catholic youth? Are they fearful that Buddhist will attempt to bomb the popemobile? Before the era of mass Muslim immigration into Europe, such precautions would have been deemed as overkill. Now they seem like prudent measures to prevent overkill. The heightened security at World Youth Day and all over Europe is a tacit acknowledgement that Islam differs radically from all other religions. This is a point that Cardinal Burke made in his interview when he criticized Catholic leaders who “simply think that Islam is a religion like the Catholic faith or the Jewish faith.” Just so. It’s well past time to question whether a religion with totalitarian ambitions should be treated like all other religions.
In the Guardian story about the Pope’s visit to Poland, he is described as a “modern pope.” But in some respects he, along with many bishops, seems to belong to an earlier era—an era when it seemed that all people desired nothing more than peace and friendship. At a time when the world is faced with the resurgence of a seventh-century warrior religion, that sixties sensibility no longer seems so modern.