I have argued that many (though not all) of the things that are condemned as intrusions of Islamic law into American law are actually the applications of traditional American legal principles. Those who believe in equal treatment without regard to religion, I have argued, should extend to Muslims the benefits of those principles just as Christians, Jews and others can take advantage of those principles.Yes, it can be right. While some Christians like Robertson are politically active, Christianity is not a political ideology and the mainstream Christian churches avoid politics, except when it directly interferes with their beliefs.
Some, however, have argued that Islam should not be treated the same as those other religions. One line of argument goes so far as to say (in the words of noted televangelist and political figure Pat Robertson) that “Islam is not a religion. It is a political system bent on world domination.”
It’s hard to figure out exactly what the first part of this means. What constitutes a religion for legal purposes can be fuzzy around the edges, but surely Islam — a prominent system of beliefs about God and God’s supposed commands to mankind — must qualify. The argument, I assume, must be that Islam, though it is a religion, is not simply a religion but is also a political ideology and therefore loses its status as a religion for, say, religious accommodation purposes.
But that can’t be right. Many religions, especially many strands of Christianity, are “political system[s]” in the sense that they create an agenda for political action. The conservative Christian political program of Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, and others is one example. The “liberation theology” followed by some liberal Catholics is another.
But whatever the difference between the religions, it can’t be that one is a “political system” and the other is not, or that one seeks “world domination” and the other does not. ...Volokh appears to know nothing about Islam. The Wikipedia page says:
People who want to set up Christianity as an official state religion are protected by the First Amendment. So are people who overtly call for constructing a “theocracy” that “denies the religious liberty of the enemies of God.”
Mainstream Islamic law does not distinguish between "matters of church" and "matters of state"; the scholars function as both jurists and theologians.That's right. In Islam, church and state are the same, while Christianity has a 2000 year old history of carefully distinguishing them.
Just look around the world. There are many countries that are officially Christian, like the UK, but they do not seek a Christian world domination. The UK takes in many Moslem immigrants, and makes no effort to convert them to Christianity. On the other hand, there are dozens of Islamic countries around the world, and they all persecute Christians and other non-Moslems. Their leaders, holy books, and centuries of history all teach that Islam in not just a religion, but also a political system and way of life that is to be imposed on the whole society.
Yes, if you look hard enough, you have find an obscure Christian somewhere who advocates a Christian theocracy, and he has the free speech to say so. But theocracy is not a part of the Christian religion, and it never has been. Theocracy is an essential part of Islam as it is practiced by about a billion people in the world.
The First Amendment was adopted by Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Unitarians, and others with a concept of religion based on Christianity. They would probably say that Islam is part religion, and part legal and political system, and that only the religion part deserves religious freedoms.
For another example of a silly attempt to equate Christianity and Islam, see this UK newspaper editorial against female circumcision, aka genital mutilation. It attempts to blame Christianity and Islam equally, and blame men instead of women. As explained here, this was not practiced in any Western Christian countries, until they started taking millions of Moslem immigrants.