Catholics Beware: Anti-Sharia Laws Could Target You, Too

In the Name of the Compassionate and Infinitely Merciful Precious Beloved

This was published on Patheos

Last month, South Dakota passed a law that seeks to prevent the enforcement of "any religious code." The very brief bill stated simply: "No court, administrative agency, or other governmental agency may enforce any provisions of any religious code."

It seems quite innocuous, but clearly, it was intended to target the threat of sharia law. In many other states, similar laws do not mention sharia explicitly, but rather "foreign law" or "foreign codes." As many have pointed out, this is a solution looking for a problem, as nowhere in America are Muslims seeking to supplant the Constitution with sharia law. If you think about this and delve into South Dakota's law and similar laws in other states, one thing starts to become clear: Leaving aside the fact that these laws are discriminatory by their very nature, any law that bans "foreign codes" should cause Catholics to take heed.

That is because the Holy See, which is the source of Catholic canon law, resides in the Vatican, a city-state that is a sovereign, independent country. Thus, technically, Catholic Canon Law is a "foreign code" or "foreign law," and those state laws that prevent courts from enforcing or taking "foreign laws" into account should also then apply to Catholic Canon Law.

This is significant because any marriage officiated in a Catholic Church under Catholic religious rules cannot be enforced by the courts if anti-Sharia bills become law. Couples need to get a marriage license, but if they choose to have, for example, a Catholic religious ceremony—which brings the marriage into being—in a church rather than a courthouse, then those marriages are performed using a "foreign law."

If, God forbid, such a couple were to then divorce, the court cannot do anything because the marriage was officiated with a "foreign law." If one spouse were to die, the court would not be allowed to enforce the deceased's will, because, again, the marriage was officiated using "foreign law." If a spouse is sick and incapacitated in a hospital, how can the health care providers take the spouse as a surrogate decision maker if, in the first place, the marriage cannot be enforced because it was officiated using "foreign law"?

The Catholic bishops objected to the Obama Administration's mandate in the Affordable Care Act that employers, including those affiliated with the Church like universities and hospitals, provide insurance coverage for contraception. They based this objection upon their religious beliefs. Catholics in South Dakota, or any state that has an anti-"foreign law" bill, however, cannot have the courts hear their objection, because the law prohibits courts from enforcing "any provisions of any religious code."

This may seem outrageous and totally un-American, but that is what the law in South Dakota says: "No court, administrative agency, or other governmental agency may enforce any provisions of any religious code." And if the state legislators replace "religious code" with "foreign law," then this would apply even more strictly to Catholics since, again, their religious code emanates from a foreign country. But no, you may be thinking, this law was supposed to target Sharia law, not Catholic law.

But be aware—once government tries to target and discriminate against one religious group, it does not take much for other religious groups to suffer the same fate. That is what makes America such a wonderful place: Here, people of all religious faiths can practice their beliefs freely without fear of the government targeting them for their faith. Once state legislatures abandon this principle, everyone suffers, not just the targeted minority.

Already, a similar anti-Sharia bill in Oklahoma was stuck down as unconstitutional, and my hope is all such laws suffer the same fate. Freedom of religion is one of the cornerstones of our republic. Let not fear and ignorance erode that freedom, and in the process, betray the very principles that make our nation the best in the world.



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    You apparently don't understand how American law works.

    In order to perform legally recognized marriages, Catholic priests (indeed, every religious representative) go through the paperwork necessary to be legally empowered to perform civil marriages.

    That's why marriages performed in a Catholic church are legally valid in the eyes of US courts - the priest is legally equivalent to a judge.

    So, your point about canon law collapses. US law already refuses to recognize canon law. The South Dakota law, and all similar laws, have zero impact on Catholics.

    The HHS Mandate is an entirely separate issue, in which the government attempts to enforce something on a religious group. The South Dakota law would have zero impact either for or against the HHS Mandate fight.

    What the SD law does is simple: it says that government officials must pay attention to SD state and US federal law AND NOTHING ELSE.

    Which is perfectly reasonable, given that this is all they are empowered to do anyway.

    Your remarks either betray remarkable ignorance of American law or a deeply disturbing display of taquiyya.

  • In reply to Steve Kellmeyer:

    "Taqiyya" has nothing to do with I am trying to say. The SD law says that no court is allowed to enforce any provisions of any "religious code." Marriage, especially in the Catholic Church, is a purely religious issue: it is indeed a Sacrament. Surely you agree that a civil marriage in a court by a judge is not the same as a marriage ceremony in a Catholic Church? The priest is not acting like a judge, and the law does not equate the two.

    Every Muslim cleric I know that officiates marriages does not need to "fill out paperwork" to be able to perform marriages. All they do is sign the bottom of the marriage licence, which must be filled out before the religious ceremony takes place. The fact that the State recognizes religious marriage ceremonies is just a courtesy that the State extends to religious institutions.

    But my real point of the article is this: these "anti-Sharia" laws seek to criminalize the practice of Islam in America...which is un-American.

  • In reply to Hesham Hassaballa:

    Actually, a person who wants to perform marriages needs paperwork from the state. Remember that some faiths don't have a formal ordination process, such as the LDS. In the Mormon faith, there are no paid clergy, and all men in a local church generally take a turn being the bishop.

    A friend of my family was, at one time, the bishop at his church, and he had to get a license from the State of Illinois, in order to perform ceremonies that legally binding.

  • Actually, there is no paperwork involved if you are an ordained minister. I was ordained online, called up the DuPage county courthouse and was told there was nothing else I needed to do. If there was any question after I performed a ceremony, they would ask for a copy of my ordained minister certificate. Nothing else to do unless asked.

  • In reply to sherrie0824:

    This discussion got me interested so, I looked it up. This is from the State of Illinois' website (

    "To be valid, a marriage must be performed by one of the following individuals:

    -a judge of a court of record or a retired judge of a court of record;
    -a judge of the Court of Claims;
    -the county clerk in counties having 2 million or more inhabitants (Cook County);
    -a public official whose powers include solemnizing marriages; or
    -an officiant performing the marriage in accordance with the principles of any religious denomination, Indian nation or tribe or native group provided that when such principles require an officiant, the officiant be in good standing with his religious denomination, Indian nation or tribe or native group.

    More than one officiant can perform the marriage. Officiants do not have to reside in Illinois.

    The person solemnizing the marriage must complete the marriage certificate form and forward it to the appropriate county clerk within 10 days after the marriage is solemnized. A newly married couple is required to file the marriage certificate if more than one officiant is involved and none of the officiants have assumed that responsibility."

    So, there is no official state paperwork required. The only paperwork, as the State says, is to fill out the license and forward it to the County Clerk.

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    In reply to Hesham Hassaballa:


    Thank you for proving my point.
    The law itself makes the "officiant" a government official for purposes of rendering this particular contract legal.

    Since the law specifically says religious "officiants" are permitted to witness a marriage, that law makes them government officials.

    Notice the phrase "the person solemnizing the marriage". The law doesn't distinguish between judges, county clerks and religious officiants because they are all LEGALLY government-mandated officials for purposes of the law.

    The South Dakota law would have zero impact on this law. Illinois could easily pass the SD law word for word, and it wouldn't affect anything at all in regards to this marriage law.

    If you don't believe me, go ask a lawyer.
    Which is what you SHOULD have done before you wrote this stupid article.

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    " Surely you agree that a civil marriage in a court by a judge is not the same as a marriage ceremony in a Catholic Church? "

    No, actually, I don't agree.
    Whenever two baptized persons of opposite sex exchange marriage vows with proper intent, they are sacramentally married.

    Now, if one or both are Catholics, they have to exchange vows in front of a priest or designate to have it recognized as a sacrament, but the exchange of vows will still be recognized by civil authorities.

    Your Muslim clerics are recognized by the state as officials of the state for purposes of recognizing marriage.

    This is kind of ironic, since many Muslim clerics don't like participating in non-Muslim governments, but that's what they do every time they witness a legal marriage.

    I know Muslim clerics get around polygamy laws by having men just perform the ceremony without getting the license at all, but those marriages are illegal precisely BECAUSE no marriage license was first obtained from the state.

    And when I say "men", of course, we should remember that marriage ceremonies are between the bridegroom and the woman's male guardian. The woman doesn't even have to be present for the marriage to be valid in Muslim eyes.

    So, when you say taqiyya has nothing to do with it, I guess we should assume you aren't lying and you are, instead, just really, really ignorant?

  • Steve,

    The law doesn't make religious officials equal to government just recognizes marriages performed by religious officials as valid. So, they are not the same thing.

    And as far as Muslim clerics getting around polygamy laws...any cleric worth his mettle would never officiate a marriage without first seeing the marriage license. That is what the cleric told me when I asked him about officiating marriages.

    And the marriage ceremony MUST include the presence of the woman being married. In fact, the cleric must assure that the woman is not being coerced into the marriage. So, what you are saying is not factual.

    But, anyway, peace be with you Steve.

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    In reply to Hesham Hassaballa:

    Hesham, you need to talk to a lawyer.

    As for your statements concerning Muslim clerics and polygamy, you are clearly engaging in taqiyya.

    I've read Reliance of the Traveller and Hirsi.
    Islamic marriages are contracts between the bridegroom and the male guardian of the bride. Her presence is unnecessary, since her silence is considered consent. The presence of her guardian and her absence would be considered silent consent.

    What you are saying is not only not factual, it is deliberate misrepresentation.

  • And one other thing, Steve: you said: "Whenever two baptized persons of opposite sex exchange marriage vows with proper intent, they are sacramentally married."

    Baptism is a religious act, and thus, the marriage is a religious deed, not a civil one. Two people off the street can't walk into a Catholic Church and become married. But, two people CAN walk off the street and walk into the County Clerk's office and get married on the spot.

    So, they are quite different.

    Again, peace be with you.

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    In reply to Hesham Hassaballa:

    Hesham, baptized people are capable of acting in the name of Christ because they are part of the Body of Christ.

    Catholics recognize marriage as sacramental when the following conditions are met: (1) the exchange of wedding vows between two unmarried opposite sex people, (2) with proper intentions. That's it.

    If two Catholics exchange such vows in front of a priest, they are sacramentally married. They CAN just walk in off the street into a Catholic Church and become married in that way.

    In fact, I've seen a priest run out of a room precisely in order to avoid witnessing such an exchange of vows between two unmarried Catholics.

    Now, what the South Dakota law is trying to avoid is the pedophile situation, wherein a Muslim man marries a six-year old girl in imitation of Mohammed. If religious law were recognized as binding, then South Dakota and other states might eventually be forced to accept child marriages and pedophilia. Americans tend not to like pedophiles. So, the South Dakota law is insurance against that kind of situation being forced into legality.

  • This is a very interesting discussion, can't help but point out Steve has resorted to calling the article "stupid" and the author "ignorant."

    Meanwhile, Hesham has been respectful towards Steve throughout. Doesn't say anything about who's right or wrong but does say a lot about their character.

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    Hashem is worried about a unicorn invasion.
    He is trying to get other people worried about it.
    Any article worried about a unicorn invasion has intellectual problems.

    Hashem is either ignorant of the law or actively lying.
    He is certainly actively lying about Islamic marriage.
    This is an Islamic tactic known as "taqiyya" - look it up on Google.

    Also, look up The Reliance of the Traveller.
    Buy a copy off Amazon, or use Look Inside and read what Islam teaches Muslims about itself. You will be amazed.

  • In reply to Steve Kellmeyer:

    Interesting. So by declaring Hesham is using the "tactic" of taqiyya you're pretty much in the clear to say anything that doesn't square with your preconceived notions of Islam is thereby dishonest.

    It's a foolproof argument! Heads you win, tails he loses!

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    In reply to Jimmy Greenfield:


    No, I can prove Hesham is actively lying.

    Look up
    "A first-time bride must have the consent of a Muslim guardian (wali or wakeel) to get married."
    "If the bride is going to be present at the Nikah ceremony, then only two witnesses are required."

    Hesham lied about the need for the bride to be present.
    But that's not all.

    You can also check it out in Reliance of the Traveller - the Sunni Catechism of Islam, as it were. It's approved by the leading Sunni Muslim university in the world.
    Marriage is a contract between the guardian and the groom (m3.2)

    Notice that permissible ages are not listed anywhere:

    Marriage by age of six is alright, sex with a child of nine is fine, (Reliance: n9.2, n9.9)

    That's because Mohammed is the paragon of Islamic virtue - he did everything perfectly. 54-year old Mohammed married six-year old Ayisha and had sex with her when she turned 9. He used to masturbate between her thighs before that, as he waited for her to get old enough for insertion. She had to wash the semen off, and he often went to prayers with his clothes still wet.

    Every Muslim man is encouraged to imitate Mohammed. Sex with your child bride is the epitome of Muslim virtue.

    This is why Hesham isn't a fan of the South Dakota law.
    It will interfere with the practice of Islam.

    And I wonder at Hesham's name - it has the word "ham" in it. From an English perspective, that's too close to "pig" for any real comfort, isn't it Hesham?

  • I can only note this one interesting point. While Mr. Hassaballa has in the past decried the scare tactics leveled against Sharia and has steadfastly claimed that Sharia is nothing but good thing.... now he is using scare tactics to try and get Catholics afraid that they are going to be next in line for attack.

    I find it an interesting dichotomy that Mr. Hassaballa decries scare tactics unless it suits his own needs.

  • In reply to publiusforum:

    With all due respect, I'm not trying to use fear. What I was doing was illustrating the folly of this and similar laws by showing how this law in SD can be used to target other religious groups.

  • Catholic persecution is nothing new in the US; however, this example is really dates and pomegranates.

    I have never been in or witnessed a majority Muslim country where Sharia Law has been separate and apart from civil law, except in Turkey, where Sharia Law is within the "personal" and does not apply to civil law. Reform came to Turkey in the 1920's, under Ataturk, when Turkey was declared a secular state. Egypt used to have a nominally secular establishment, but some of the news coming out of Egypt is disturbing, if only half of it is true.

    I think the on-going position in Hesham Hassabella's writings is to increasingly bring the Muslim population into the classification of a protected class of people, which is a debate all its own.
    The deference shown Muslims on all levels of government and society is making the official classification a moot point.

  • In reply to Richard Davis:


    I am not trying to make Muslims into a "protectedclass." What's wonderful about our country is that here, everyone is equal, and everyone is free to worship as he or she sees fit.

    Here the rules apply to all. The problem is, some people don't want the same freedoms for Muslims that others enjoy here. They want to make America like George Orwell's "Animal Farm": "All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others." I am speaking out to prevent that from happening.

    And I don't care what other Muslims around the world are doing. We are not Saudi Arabia, or Iran, or Afghanistan. We are America, and I thank our Precious Beloved Lord for that.

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    In reply to Hesham Hassaballa:

    Oh, Hesham, Muslims also have to give up female genital mutilation and slavery.

    And taking concubines from the enemies you have killed in battle.

    Oh, and marrying your women off to first cousins. Too much inbreeding is bad for both the intellect and the physic. On average around 50% of marriages in the Muslim world are consanguineous, with predictable effects of low intelligence and mental and physical disorders. This results in enormous costs for society as we try to care for the Islamic disabled, and high unemployment among the Muslim population.

    As you point out, this is America.
    Without major changes to how it works, Islam simply isn't compatible with America.

    We're a 21st-century country.
    Islam, as it is currently practiced, is a 7th-century throwback.

  • In reply to Hesham Hassaballa:


    For the moment, let us talk locally -- as just the US.

    Where is this evil cabal of people that do not want Muslims in the US to live freely? Can you please name names, and out organizations that are actively, every day, working towards Muslim subjugation in the US? Are there people meeting in covens in white sheets to do this? Just who are these people? Where are they?

    When I listen to the spokesman for CAIR I hear only that Muslims need to be protected. This would, indeed, bring out the Animal Farm paradox. There exists today in public schools prayer rooms for Muslims, where none such exist for other faiths. There are special Halal preparations in the same. This is what I mean by a new protected class. It might not be your goal, but it has certainly happened, a little more equal treatment that some.

    I ask you, please, Hesham, to boldly name the organizations and people who are fostering this assault on the Muslim population. Take them out of the shadows and let the readers know. Bring the "two worlds" together. Thanks.

  • In reply to Richard Davis:


    There are groups and bloggers - I don't need to name them - that actively work to demonize Muslims in America. But, they are an extremist fringe, and I don't waste my time with them.

    And, come on Richard, CAIR is a Muslim organization that works to help Muslims when they face discrimination in the workplace, etc. So, naturally, you will hear them talk mainly about Muslims. Having said that, however, CAIR has sided with non-Muslims all the time, especially the local Chicago chapter. You should check out their work:

    You decry "public school prayer rooms." Those are just local classrooms that Muslims use for Friday prayers, and the Christian groups are equally free to use them for their meetings. That's all. As far as special "Halal preparations," I don't hear you crying foul about all the Kosher food products that are available: on airplanes, and all over the food aisle. Check out almost any food item: they are certified Kosher. How do I know? There is either a "K" on it, or "CRC," which stands for "Chicago Rabbinical Council."

    I have absolutely no problem with this. So, why is it so bad when food companies - using smart business tactics - want to expand their customer base by having Halal preparations also available? Some call this "Islamicization" of our food. Come on.

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    Muslims are in the same position Mormons were in a hundred years ago.

    In order for Mormons to be accepted, they had to give up polygamy.

    Muslims have to give up polygamy, child marriage, child sex, the ability of parents to kill their own children and grandchildren without retribution, the ability of a husband to kill his wife without retribution, the drive to kill the Jews - all you have to do is repudiate about a quarter of the Koran and a quarter of the Hadiths, and you will be on equal footing with the rest of America.

    We don't allow Aztecs to perform human sacrifice.
    We won't allow Muslims to do any of the things listed above.

    That's fair.

  • In reply to Steve Kellmeyer:

    So it's about 25 percent of the Koran? Steve, do you have an estimation of what percentage of the Bible needed to be repudiated in order to put Christians on equal footing with the rest of America?

  • In reply to Jimmy Greenfield:

    Jimmy, a great chunk of the Christian Bible was repudiated when a Jewish guy was born in Bethlehem. No longer and eye for an eye, but a New Way -- to love your enemies. So, in my estimation, with the birth of the Carpenter, about 65% of the Christian Bible was repudiated.

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    The Old Testament has 613 laws. The Christians retain 12 of them: the Decalogue and the two Great Commandments. All the rest of the laws are considered allegorical, not literally true.

    Thus, Christians don't call for stoning anyone to death, they eat shellfish and catfish, they wear clothes of different fibers, etc. Following the Mosaic law went out with... well... with the Crucifixion of God, actually.

    Of course, if you read the New York Times, you probably aren't up-to-date with the news, so that's probably why you haven't heard...

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    In reply to Steve Kellmeyer:


    Believing Biblical history is true is not the same as believing we must implement all the laws in the Bible.

    There are no Christians who believe stoning is required by God, regardless of circumstance.
    Every orthodox Muslim believes stoning is required by God under certain circumstances.

    No Christian believes crucifixion is ever appropriate.
    Every orthodox Muslim believes crucifixion is required by God under certain circumstances.

    No Christian believes female genital mutilation is required by God.
    Many Muslims do believe it is required by God (even though there is no Koran verse which requires it).

    For Muslims, EVERY WORD of the Koran is literally true and is to be applied in literal fashion, and all the Hadiths form the exemplary basis for how to live out Allah's will.

    For Christians, even for those who believe every word is literally true, none of them believe every word is meant to be applied in literal fashion.

    Christians see the Old Testament laws as largely abrogated.
    Muslims see all the Meccan verses as abrogated - the Meccan verses are the peaceful verses.
    The Medinian verses are the active verses. Those are the violent, war-making verses.

  • According to this 2011 poll (, 41 percent of Protestants/Christians believe the Bible is literally true.

    10 percent believe it is a Book of fables/legends.

  • In reply to Jimmy Greenfield:

    Jimmy, that poll may be true, but the follow-up question never asked is, "What dose the birth of Jesus Christ mean in reference with the Old Testament"?

    The answer will probably be from the Protestant brothers and sisters :"John 3-16".

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