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Sharia in the West, and the Moral Irrelevance of Secular Libertarianism
Jun 15, 2011
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When earlier this year Judge Richard Nielsen decreed that a dispute brought to his court between the trustees and the ex-trustees of a mosque in Florida must be decided by the Sharia law, few observers – with the exception of those on the far left – were able to see any logic in the judge’s decision. The litigants filed the suit with the court, which is under the law of Florida, which meant that they wanted the civil law of Florida to apply. The mosque is an entity registered by the laws of Florida. From a more general perspective, the litigants, who could choose to live in an Islamic nation under Sharia, have chosen Florida, which in itself is a declaration of what civil law they prefer to be governed by. And, given the very definition of “state” as a territorial unit, it is more than obvious than if a judge is a minister of the state, he must apply on the territory of that state the law of the state. The judge’s decision, to state it mildly, was an example of judicial arbitrariness of the sort we see so often these days, where judges act driven by a political agenda or simply personal whims; the same sort of judicial arbitrariness that has undermined the trust in the judicial system in the last several decades.

It is no wonder, then, that conservative commentators and politicians expressed their concern and even disgust at the judge’s decision. In a time when the truth about Islam and its laws and practices is becoming better known throughout the world, for an American judge to surrender his courtroom to one of the cruelest and most anti-civilization law systems in history is not simply illogical, it is outrageous. Can’t Judge Nielsen see that there is no justice in any of the countries governed by any of the existing forms of Islamic law available? The attempts of legislators throughout the US to declare Sharia illegal on the territory of their states are not simply driven by hatred and fear; they are based on true information about the tyrannical nature of Sharia and its practices. How many Americans leave their country to go live where Sharia is the law of the land? And how many Muslims prefer America to their own countries where they can have all the Shariah they want? Is there justice in Sharia then?

No wonder only leftist organizations with deep anti-Christian and totalitarian commitment like ACLU oppose the anti-Sharia legislation in the US.

Or, rather, not only them. Secular libertarians also support Judge Nielsen’s decision.

At least one secular libertarian,[1] William Norman Grigg, heaps praises on the judge’s decision. In an article titled “Hysterical Blindness,” written in a highly hysterical language against those who dare disagree with Judge Nielsen, he describes it as“what should be perceived as that rarest of things, an act of judicial restraint.” Grigg has a reason for his praises: he believes that the judge correctly refused to judge in a case which, in Grigg’s words, is a “a dispute that falls within the jurisdiction of an existing, written, contract-based private arbitration agreement.” Grigg is not concerned with the fact that the litigants deny there was such a written agreement, and that they themselves came to the court in the first place; he has a case to prove, and his case is that Sharia must be accepted as a perfectly legal and acceptable law system when the case has the appearance of a mutual agreement. As a secular libertarian, Grigg can not see any higher moral standard than mutual agreement between two parties, even if the law of the agreement is as savage and tyrannical as the Islamic law. If the civil government is not involved in any way, Grigg believes, then it must be liberty. So why not Sharia in America, if the judge decides it on an imaginary agreement between Muslims? After all, can there be injustice when there is mutual agreement?

One wonders what Grigg would say about another case of “an existing, written, contract-based private arbitration agreement,” this time in Germany. The wife of a Moroccan man, brutally beaten and threatened with murder by her husband, requests a quick divorce from the court. The German judge, Christa Daz-Winter, in agreement with Judge Nielsen and with the secular libertarians, judged the marriage to be based on mutual agreement, and therefore no special judicial action was necessary. After all, the judge declared, the brutally beaten woman, by assenting to marry a Muslim man, also accepted the legitimacy of being beaten by her husband, which is allowed by the Koran. What can a secular libertarian say to that except rejoice that Daz-Winter exercised judicial restraint and thus liberty has triumphed in Germany? Thus, by precedent, brutal abuse and death threats – and why not even killings – can become legitimate on the territory of a Western nation. And secular libertarians must welcome this as a positive development toward liberty. If there is no higher standard than mutual agreement, then the wife must submit to the written agreement of the marriage, and the judge shouldn’t be involved at all, whatever beating the wife gets from her husband.

And why stop with beating the wife? Can’t daughters be beaten as well? Wouldn’t a libertartian tell you that any involvement by the civil government must be wrong by default, therefore a family must be left to peacefully exercise their religious beliefs? For example, brutally beating a daughter for her desire to live a “Western” life is considered “for her good” by the Islamic Law. After all, a libertarian would be happy if the court exercises “judicial restraint” and leaves the family to decide such things. Is this happening anywhere in the West? You bet. A court in Italy ruled that a Muslim daughter was brutally beaten “for her own good” by her whole family, and therefore the family was acquitted. The family was only peacefully practicing their own religion, they didn’t impose it on anyone outside, only helping their daughter understand what was good for her.

Let’s develop the logic. If the spiritual well-being of the daughter requires that she would be beaten brutally, and if the courts decree it legal, then why not extend this to killing her? If the religious convictions of her family declare her eternal fate more important than her earthly life, and if Sharia deems it necessary to kill her “for her own good” – or at least has no sanctions against it – then why would the courts try to stop a father or a brother from killing their daughters or sisters? Or even wives? And this is already happening large scale in Europe among the Muslim populations; why shouldn’t the courts declare it a “cultural practice” and exercise “judicial restraint” when dealing with it? What about sexual slavery in the form of “arranged marriages”? What about mutilation of women and children? What about sexual abuse of little children under the pretense of “marriage”? What about the deliberate forming of Muslim enclaves and forcing out non-Muslims by constant abuse, perfectly legal by the Muslim tradition? If we allow Islamic religious law in property disputes, why not allow the whole package, and legalize all the inhumane and savage practices that package requires; and do it in the name of “liberty”?

Leftist totalitarians like ACLU, and their secular libertarian allies like Grigg do not bother extending their own logic to such extremes. They only ridicule those who see where this kind of “liberty” is leading; the danger of Sharia is imaginary, they say. And while ACLU has their specific anti-Christian and Communist agenda, secular libertarians are simply victims of their own moral relativism, of their own lack of transcendent ethical values. This moral relativism makes secular libertarians who fight against one tyrant – the socialist state – sell out to another tyrant, the religion of Islam. Two tyrants do not one liberty make.

While mutual agreement between two parties is a legitimate judicial factor, it can not be the ultimate factor. Many areas of life just do not fall under that heading; life just can’t be fragmented into little pieces and assign different law systems to the different pieces. A nation can not declare one area of judicial disputes – e.g. property disputes – open to one law system, and another area – family, human life, and liberty – closed to that same law system. Once a law system hostile to the culture and the society makes its inroads in the courts, it will keep expanding its presence. The socialist state in the US didn’t emerge by a single stroke of the legislative pen; it took several generations of law upon law, precept upon precept, government agency upon government agency to take over. Letting another anti-liberty, anti-West system start the same little steps will be near-sightedness at best, and deliberate surrender of our traditional Christian liberties at worst. Secular libertarians’ love affair with Islam will lead to nothing less than the more thorough destruction of liberty in the West.

True libertarianism can not be a piecemeal libertarianism, it must proclaim a transcendent system of law and morality that is the source of true liberty; a system that restrains all institutions in the society – family, church, civil government – within their proper spheres. Simply rejecting the civil government’s role is not enough, if – as is the case with Islam – the alternative is a religion that is just as tyrannical, and does not protect the weaker members of the society from abuse and injustice. Secular libertarianism, by its very rejection of such transcendent system of law and morality, is not true libertarianism, it is only an attempt to fight something with nothing; fighting something with nothing only perpetuates tyranny, it doesn’t produce true liberty in the society.

In his article, Grigg makes a parallel between Samaritan Ministries, a Christian organization, and the mosque, and tries to defend the case that in both cases, there is a religious law involved, and therefore the courts should not take action. As a secularist, Grigg doesn’t see any difference between Christianity and Islam; all religions are the same for him, and therefore must be granted the same legal status. The question, of course, is why stop at Christianity and Islam; cannibalism is also based on a religious law, therefore Grigg’s logic should lead us to the legalization of cannibalism in the US, if a judge decides that the two parties in a dispute are members of a religious tradition that endorses and requires cannibalism. Like I showed in my previous article, only a drunken relativist can declare all religions the same; and drunken relativism can’t produce anything of value in the society, let alone defend liberty.

Christianity and Islam are not the same, and they do not have the same ethical value. The religious Islamic Law is based on the rantings of Mohammed, a pedophile, abuser of women and children, murderer, liar, and robber. The product of Islam is a civilization that hasn’t been able to produce any justice, nor prosperity, nor science and technology. The Samaritan Ministries is based on the Law of God as revealed in the Word of God, the Bible. It is that same Word of God that was the foundation for the Western civilization, whose fruits the secular libertarians enjoy today. Liberty doesn’t come from nowhere; the very concept was the product of Christianity and the development of its creeds through the ages. Without Christianity there won’t be any notion of liberty; there won’t be Magna Carta, nor the Declaration of Independence, nor the concept of the individual, nor the concept of limited government, nor capitalism, nor the idea of life, liberty, and property as God-given rights. Without Christianity even the idea of transcendental divine justice means nothing; justice then becomes a tool in the hands of powerful men to be used at their whim and for their tyrannical agendas, as it is under both Islam and socialism. By ethically denigrating Christianity to the level of Islam, Grigg shows that his secular libertarianism is not libertarianism at all; ironically, the only hysterical blind man in the show is Grigg himself, and his fellow secular libertarians.

There is only one source of liberty: The Law of God. A true lover of liberty must always go to this verse in the Bible:

I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery (Ex. 20:2).

The Ten Commandments, and the laws following from them in the Pentateuch, and the applications of those laws as revealed in the whole Bible are the only transcendent standard for liberty. Men are fallen and sinful; their mutual agreements can not be trusted, and they must always agree with the Law of God to be considered valid and just. When their mutual agreements are based on a legal system which is openly hostile to the Biblical Law, then validating those agreements by the courts is a war against liberty. Granted, our own legal system in the US is far from the original Christian commitment this nation had to the Word of God; but they are still influenced by it to a large extent. But the solution to the imperfections and injustices in the legal system can not be allowing a tyrannical and cruel system of law like Sharia make its inroads, even if it is for ostensibly “innocent” issues like property disputes. One tyranny can not be nullified by another tyranny. Sharia must be banned from our courts and our land; and a true libertarian will argue and fight for a return to the legal standards of the Word of God.

Therefore, the only true libertarianism is Christian libertarianism, based on the Law of God as revealed in the Bible. Only when its standards are uphold against the wickedness of totalitarian statists and Islamists and the blindness and the moral irrelevance of secular libertarians, we have a true defense of liberty. Our liberty comes only from God, and therefore our standard for liberty can only come from His Law.


[1] I call “secular libertarians” those libertarians who find the definition and the source for liberty anywhere else but in the Bible. Thus a person can claim to be a Christian and even attend church and still be secular in their thinking, if he does not go to the Bible for definitions and source for truth.

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About author

Bojidar Marinov

A Reformed missionary to his native Bulgaria for over 10 years, Bojidar preaches and teaches doctrines of the Reformation and a comprehensive Biblical worldview. Having founded Bulgarian Reformation Ministries in 2001, he and his team have translated over 30,000 pages of Christian literature about the application of the Law of God in every area of man’s life and society, and published those translations online for free. He has been active in the formation of the Libertarian movement in Bulgaria, a co-founder of the Bulgarian Society for Individual Liberty and its first chairman. If you would like Bojidar to speak to your church, homeschool group or other organization, contact him through his website: http://www.bulgarianreformation.org/

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