Violate the Constitution? Christian Right Group Says Yes

The American Family Association (AFA) usually frets about homosexuals and pornography, but in the aftermath of the shootings at Fort Hood last week, the ultraconservative religious right group has a new concern: Muslims in the U.S. military. Ban them, urges Bryan Fischer, AFA director of issues analysis.

The day after Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, an American-born Muslim, is alleged to have shot and killed 13 people at the Texas army post and wounded more than two dozen others, Fischer posted his anti-Muslim screed on the AFA website.

“It is time, I suggest, to stop the practice of allowing Muslims to serve in the U.S. military,” Fischer wrote. “The reason is simple: the more devout a Muslim is, the more of a threat he is to national security. Devout Muslims, who accept the teachings of the prophet as divinely inspired, believe it is their duty to kill infidels. Yesterday’s massacre is living proof.”

Fischer conceded that most U.S. Muslims don’t shoot their fellow soldiers. No matter, because “the more devout a Muslim is, the more likely he is to lie to you through his teeth,” Fischer writes. “You invent a jihadi-detector that works every time it’s used, and we’ll welcome you back with open arms. This is not Islamophobia. It is Islamo-realism. The barbarians are no longer at the gate. They’re inside the fort, and it’s time for the insanity to stop.”

Mikey Weinstein, founder and president of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, said that barring Muslims from serving in the U.S. military would violate the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment that ensures equal application of laws among people regardless of their race, faith and the like. “That’s a bigoted, racist, vile position,” Weinstein said of the AFA article. “It’s un-American. It’s inhuman. It violates our Constitution.”

Weinstein spent 10 years in the U.S. Air Force as a military attorney serving as both a federal prosecutor and criminal defense attorney. Two sons and a daughter-in-law also are Air Force Academy graduates. Weinstein was legal counsel to the Reagan administration for more than three years and then served as general counsel to billionaire H. Ross Perot and his company, quitting in 2006 to devote more time to the foundation he formed to combat the evangelical, fundamentalist religious right.

“We should not tolerate each other’s faith, we should respect them,” Weinstein said. “Should we not trust any evangelical Christians because Scott Roeder killed the abortion doctor, George Tiller? [Roeder has not been convicted of last summer’s murder in Kansas, but confessed to it in an interview with The Associated Press last week.] Should we not trust any Jews because Bernie Madoff is Jewish?”

Brigham Young University law professor Cole Durham agrees that barring people of a particular religion from military service would be unconstitutional. Durham, who specializes in international religious freedom law, added that barring Muslims from military service would be foolish even if it were legal given that the U.S. government is trying to convince the world that it is not anti-Muslim. “This is obviously a terrible tragedy,” Durham said of the Fort Hood shootings. “[But] to hold the entire Muslim community in America hostage to one terrible incident does not respect Islam and the rights of Muslims to be full citizens in this country.”

The AFA normally devotes itself to issues such as “decency and morality,” “preservation of marriage and family” and “sanctity of human life.” The Mississippi-based organization was formed in 1977 by the Rev. Donald Wildmon, and was originally called the National Federation for Decency. Its members have boycotted a long list of companies – IKEA, Sears, Hallmark Cards and McDonald’s, to name but a few – deemed to be supportive of homosexuality, abortion, pornography and more. The AFA boycotted Walt Disney Company for nine years for accommodating the “gay agenda” by extending benefits to partners of employees in same-sex relationships.

Even so, Fischer’s Muslim rant isn’t the first time AFA has piped up about a religious minority in the United States. When it learned that a Hindu chaplain from Reno, Nev., would be allowed to deliver the opening prayer in the U.S. Senate in 2007, AFA urged its members to E-mail, write letters and call their senators and object to “seeking the invocation of a non-monotheistic god.”