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Hawaii_Jake's avatar

How are proponents of Christian ethics and morals different than those of Sharia law?

Asked by Hawaii_Jake (25799 points ) June 7th, 2012

In the US, at least, we have fundamentalist Christians who impose their views on society by passing laws at many different levels of government and by passing laws through the voting booth to force their moral code on the rest of society.

One example: 33 states passed bans on same-sex marriage through the voting booth after campaigns riddled with religious arguments.

How is that different than Muslim governments imposing their religious laws on their citizens?

This is not a question about same-sex marriage.

People of the Jewish faith don’t try to force all of the US to follow their dietary laws. Why can’t more religions behave like that?

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33 Answers

Qingu's avatar

Jews don’t deserve a free pass here. Some sects of Israeli Jews are almost as bad as the Taliban, and they have a lot of say in Netanyahu’s government. And while it’s true that Hasidic Jews in America don’t try to influence national law, they certainly enforce barbaric laws in their own families and communities, the same as Christian or Islamic fundamentalists do. My stepbrother is a fundamentalist Jew and his rabbi tells his congregation how to vote, which as it happens tends to be Republican and anti-gay.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

@Qingu : Thank you. I merely mentioned the lack of enforcing dietary laws on people of non-Jewish faith as an example. I am aware that ultra-orthodox Jews can be tyrannical, too.

bkcunningham's avatar

What Muslim governments are we talking about here and comparing to the US government, @Hawaii_Jake?

whiteliondreams's avatar

I cannot give a political discourse on this answer as you are already aware that in order to meet the peoples demands, laws must comply with the majority of what Americans want and what they want is to protect their children from homosexuality. Got it. Unfortunately, there is not difference in imposing laws against sexual preferences for American citizens, who pays taxes, and who vote; however, take into consideration again that the majority will fight for their safety. The moral implication here is that homosexuality is taboo because it is against religious doctrine. Otherwise, you are once again correct in proposing that Christians impose their morality. I also wanted to add that Sharia law is based on a Theocracy and American Democracy is based on majority ruling.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

@bkcunningham : This is more a question about religions and how they affect government than it is a compare and contrast of one country and another.

Qingu's avatar

But if the majority of a nation’s people believe that a given religious text has the best laws, then chances are they’ll vote to make those the laws.

I don’t even hold it against religious people for doing this in theory. If you believe a law is good, then of course you’ll vote for that law. I hold it against religious people because the laws they support are stupid and barbaric.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

How are their ethics and morals different? Well, at least Christians don’t advocate the beating of wives, or the arranged marriages of little nine year old girls, or honor killings of children who dated/married/fornicated outside the religion… What would our government be like if Sharia laws ruled here?

bkcunningham's avatar

Thanks, @Hawaii_Jake. I just wanted a real country to compare and contrast the US Christians with since you named them specifically. I’ll just watch to better understand your question.

Aethelflaed's avatar

How are proponents of Christian ethics and morals different than those of Sharia law? Mostly in exactly which Christian ethics they’re supporting. Some think the anti-gay verses are of much more importance than the “love thy neighbor” verse or the “judge not lest ye be judged” verse. Others are pretty much over the whole Leviticus/Deuteronomy thing.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

@Qingu : But in a country such as the US where no religion is to be established as the state religion, I do hold it against people for imposing their zealous morals against minorities. We are called to rise above that.

bkcunningham's avatar

I honestly don’t believe for one second it is only Christians who oppose same-sex marriage though.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@bkcunningham It’s not only Christians, but Christians by far make up the largest percentage of those who oppose same-sex marriage, and a huge obstacle in getting same-sex marriage legalized.

Qingu's avatar

@WillWorkForChocolate, actually the Bible never says beating your wife or marrying 9-year-olds is illegal. And Deuteronomy 21 explicitly says to kill woman who fornicate outside of marriage. In fact if you marry a woman and you fail to find evidence of her virginity, you must stone her to death outside the doorstep of her father’s house.

Most Christians don’t advocate this stuff for the same reason that most Jews and probably most Muslims don’t. Because they’re not actually religious. Just nominally so. Ask a fundamentalist Christian if he or she thinks we ought to follow God’s “best laws for all eternity” (Deuteronomy 4:2) that Jesus says he “has come not to abolish but to fulfill” (Matthew 5:17) and see what answer you get.

Qingu's avatar

@Hawaii_Jake, if people believe, for whatever reason, that Law X should be the law of the land, then in a democracy they have the right to vote for that law. I do not begrudge them for the fact that they are voting for a law they believe in. I begrudge them for believing in a stupid law.

It is unfair and ultimately unrealistic to expect a segment of the population to not vote based on their strong moral convictions.

Judi's avatar

I can tell you that Jesus, said “What is that to you? Follow me”.
When people started pointing fingers he said things like, “take the log out of your own eye before taking the speck out of your brothers.” People who try to get non Christians to adhere to their idea of a Christian moral code are not acting very Christlike.
As for the Jewish dietary restrictions, have you ever tried to order a cheeseburger in Israel?

Blackberry's avatar

They’re just different scales of irrationality, i.e. “We may discrimate against gays here in the U.S., but at least we don’t kill them like other people might.”

How thankful we should be…...

Qingu's avatar

But Jesus also said we should follow the law perfectly and that anyone who says otherwise will be called the “least” in the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:17). Paul says the law is “holy, just, and good” (Romans 7:12). And of course the big man himself says that the laws he’s giving us are absolutely perfect and wise, should never change, and will be the envy of all nations (Deuteronomy 4).

So why would a Christian prefer godless secular law based on Roman and British doctrine over perfect God-given laws that Jesus said we should all follow?

zenvelo's avatar

There seems to be an irrational fear that Muslims could impose Sharia law on non-Muslims, which has resulted in ignorant people trying to get anti-Sharia laws passed.

But Sharia law is not bound on non Muslims, and where it conflicts with state or Federal law, it cannot be imposed without risk of criminal prosecution. It is no different than Fundamentalist Mormons who hold that polygamy and forcing teenage girls to marry is okay. That’s why Warren Jeffs is in prison.

The same has applied to Hasidic communities that have violated the law. While difficult to get anyone to testify, there have been efforts.

bolwerk's avatar

Religious fundamentalism is probably more a sociological than moral phenomenon. There really isn’t that much difference between the personalities of Rick Santorum and a wacky fatwa-issuing Ayatollah. The latter may be more daring, because he has less to lose, but Santorum is not less nuts. Both are guilty of disinterested indignation – they attack people they perceive as violating social norms despite the fact that the violation doesn’t harm them or anyone else.

I admit I have trouble coming up with a present Christian, uh, movement(?) that is as oppressive as Sharia, but Sharia law doesn’t represent all of Islam anymore than any one Christian worldview represents all Christians. It’s certainly not hard to come up with examples of puritanical Christian movements that historically garnered widespread support. Like, er, um, the Puritans. And, hopefully it’s because the movement is in its death throes, but the present American evangelical movement has been escalating over the past few years.

Brian1946's avatar

@Judi …have you ever tried to order a cheeseburger in Israel? No, but do they deliver? ;-)

ragingloli's avatar

They are different only in that
1. They are slightly tempered by secular enlightenment values. That is why you barely see any christian advocate stoning adulterers or gays. Some did advocate putting them in concentration camps, though, so the tempering is only marginal, actually.
2. Stoning people for being gay/adulterers/whatever is illegal, which itself is also a result of secular values.

In summary, there is nothing inherent in christian ethics and morals that makes it different from muslim sharia laws, only secular obstructions from the outside.
Take those secular obstructions away, and I could almost guarantee they would become equivalent instantly.
As precedent, I offer Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill that aimed to introduce the death penalty for homosexuals. Ugandans are 84% christians. Interestingly, american christian evangelicals had a substantial direct part in causing that bill to come into existence in the first place.

josie's avatar

No difference at at all as far as I can see.
Note that the appeal for government sponsored and taxpayer funded altruism have a basis in scripture as well. You can’t escape it.

wundayatta's avatar

I’m guessing that the devil is in the details. You have to get down to f’rinstances and compare Sharia law to fundie Christian public policies. You’ll find similarities and differences. I don’t know what they are, and I’m not really interested in anything except keeping their influence out of public policy because as far as I can tell, they take the wrong position on just about everything. They call themselves godly, but they sure act like the devil, as far as I’m concerned.

jerv's avatar

The difference is that extremist Christians have come from using swords to using laws while Muslin extremists have stuck with the old “Kill the infidels!” thing and still stone people.

Aside from that, any differences between them are largely semantic.

Qingu's avatar

How many Christian extremists do we think are in the United States military?

I remember reading that the air force in particular was overrun with them, but that was a while ago. I could definitely see some Christian fundamentalists getting off on dropping white phosphorus on the Mohatmen infidels.

jerv's avatar

@Qingu I can’t say how it is now, but I didn’t see many at all during my time in the Navy in the early/mid-‘90s.

AdamF's avatar

I think they are fundamentally united in principle. Religious theocrats, be they muslim or Christian, see the rule of the religious majority as trumping human rights. So if the religious majority want to limit womens’ reproductive freedom, then might makes right. If the religious majority want to stop homosexuals from feeling safe in their own country, then all power to them.

But the whole purpose of nations signing on to declarations of human rights, protection of individual liberties, and likewise to constitutionally enshired separation of church and state, is to protect minorities and the disempowered when the majority lose their fucking minds.

Well, sharia laws are a case in point of what happens when a handful of men confuse the nonsense in their heads with the edicts of a perfect being. Unfortunately, far too many American theocrats seem to look on with admiration of that absolute power, rather than with revulsion.

http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2012/03/13/what-they-call-salt-of-the-earth-in-georgia-is-something-we-wipe-off-our-shoes-in-minnesota/

http://freethinker.co.uk/2012/05/30/another-baptist-pastor-calls-for-gay-genocide/

wundayatta's avatar

@jerv Did you notice that you wrote “Muslin extremists?” I love it! I want to be a taffeta extremist!

jerv's avatar

@wundayatta Autocorrect is the bane of humanity :p

bkcunningham's avatar

My burka is made of muslin.

mattbrowne's avatar

Then Jesus said to them, “Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.” (Mark 12:17)

Unlike Judaism and Islam, Christianity is not a religion of the law. Jesus lay the foundation for the modern secular principle: laws are made by people for the people. Member of parliaments who are Christians can have opinions and influence the law-making process, but their view is only one view of several. Many fundamentalist Christians favor a theocratic model instead of democracy and they would love to rewrite Jesus’s words into “Give back to Caesar what is God’s and to God what is God’s.” In this respect they are no different from fundamentalist Muslims who favor sharia-based societies.

Qingu's avatar

Jesus also explicitly says to follow the law to the letter, and to teach others to do the same. Matthew 5:17.

mattbrowne's avatar

In Matthew 5:17 he talks about the laws of the prophets not the laws of Caesar. And fulfilling the laws of the prophets means using your heart and not just observing rituals in a mechanical way. Many Jews at the time thought they were good people, because of the way they prepared their food.

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