It is always fascinating to watch far-right activists claim that Muslims should be stripped of their First Amendment rights while denouncing the Obama administration for allegedly trying to undermine the freedom of religion all in the same breath.
Take, for example, Frank Gaffney, who testified in a Tennessee court on behalf of a group that tried to ban a mosque by arguing that Islam is not be protected under the First Amendment. He spoke with Eagle Forum head Phyllis Schlafly yesterday about Obama, whom Gaffney thinks is likely a secret Muslim, about his purported “assaults” on religious freedom.
After Schlafly named a series of lawsuits (most of which had no connection to the Obama administration) that she says prove Obama is hostile to the First Amendment, Gaffney asserted that Obama is not only trying to impose a “secularist agenda” but also champion “unalloyed efforts to promote Islamism.” He argued that Obama has a “profound affinity for” Islamism and asked Schlafly how that squares with his secularism.
Schlafly, however, couldn’t come up with a coherent answer besides arguing that Obama is wrong for saying that “we are not a Christian nation” since that’s “what the founding fathers were saying all the time.”
Gaffney: These seem sort of like small and unconnected assaults, but one of the places where we see and you write very powerfully about, this coming to ahead as you say, is the exception to his secularist agenda, which seems to be President Obama’s profound affinity for and I would argue unalloyed efforts to promote Islamism. Tell us what that’s about and how that’s translating into further problematic behavior with respect to our religious freedoms.
Schlafly: Well my book, No Higher Power, shows how he is trying to completely secularize our country but he is giving a pass to Islam. You find that he doesn’t attack Islam and he went over to one of those countries and announced that we are not a Christian nation, but America is a Christian nation, look at all of our founding documents and what the founding fathers were saying all the time and the very beginning. It is very peculiar the way he gives a pass to Islam.
Maybe Schlafly and Gaffney can read Thomas Jefferson’s autobiography where he explicitly states that Muslims have religious freedom and no religion has a privileged status, or see the 1797 Treaty of Tripoli negotiated by George Washington and ratified unanimously under John Adams which reads in part:
As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility [sic], of Mussulmen [Muslims]; and, as the said States never have entered into any war, or act of hostility against any Mahometan nation, it is declared by the parties, that no pretext arising from religious opinions, shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.