Today on WallBuilders Live David Barton claimed that a Pennsylvania judge used Sharia law when dismissing charges against a Muslim man who had been accused of assaulting a man dressed as “Zombie Mohammad.” Cathy Young in Reason writes that the judge’s decision was “probably not” improper due to conflicting accounts and a lack of evidence, although the judge did seem to go out of bounds when lambasting the plaintiff “for his disrespect for other people’s culture and faith” and suggesting that he was “way outside your bounds of First Amendment rights.”
Following the ruling, the right wing immediately heralded the case as an example of Sharia law in American courts and went ahead to completely distort the facts of the case.
Conservative pseudo-historian David Barton was no exception when he covered the story today on his radio program:
First, Barton claimed that the defendant “beat the dickens out of the guy” dressed as Mohammad, while as Young points out it was “unclear” what actually happened in the altercation.
Then, Barton claimed that “the judge is himself a Muslim.” The judge, a Lutheran, was thought to have said this during the hearing, but actually said “I’m not a Muslim.” The judge quickly clarified his remarks, and Barton either hasn’t done his homework or is willfully ignoring this fact.
He went on to claim that the judge said he “can beat the dickens out of you for making fun of Mohammad because you can’t do that,” even though, again, that is not what happened. The judge said in a statement that he lectured the defendant on Islam but that it had nothing to do with his ruling:
In short, I based my decision on the fact that the Commonwealth failed to prove to me beyond a reasonable doubt that the charge was just; I didn’t doubt that an incident occurred, but I was basically presented only with the victim’s version, the defendant’s version, and a very intact Styrofoam sign that the victim was wearing and claimed that the defendant had used to choke him. There so many inconsistencies, that there was no way that I was going to find the defendant guilty.
Later in the program, Barton went even further by arguing that secular law actually paved the way for Sharia in America. He maintained that since the “God-fearing system” was replaced with a “secular system,” Sharia has come to supplant “Judeo-Christian principles.”
I was really struck with a passage that Jesus has in Matthew 12. Matthew 12 he talks about how an unclean spirit had gone out of a man and in verse 43 it says it goes through dry places seeking rest and finds none, verse 44, then he says, ‘The unclean spirit says, ‘I will return to the house from which I came.’ When he comes, he finds it empty, swept and put in order. Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself.’ I thought, that’s that principle, if you don’t fill it with good stuff, bad stuff is going to find its way in and it will be a lot worse. So we had it filled with kind of a God-fearing system and then we made it a secular system, so now we made it seven times worse by saying, let’s take Sharia law, not only do we not want biblical stuff we don’t even want secular stuff, we want seven times worse than secular. The vacuum is going to get filled with something, and if we’re going to refuse to have some Judeo-Christian principles in there on which the founders built everything and that’s what they had as the undergirding , if we’re not going to do that, then what are we going to fill it with? Right now it appears that it is going to be Sharia.