Christians Blast Ballot Initiative Banning Sharia Law In Alabama


Next week, Alabama voters will be asked to cast their ballots on Amendment 1, a carefully worded measure that would prohibit “the application of foreign law” in the state’s courts. The ballot initiative is ultimately seeking to ban sharia law, an increasingly popular right-wing legislative tactic that serves to demonize the Islamic faith as something that Americans need to be protected from.

The push to ban sharia law is often spearheaded by prominent Religious Right figures like Pat Robertson and Bryan Fischer. But somewhat of a different scene is playing out in Alabama in the lead up to the election, as Christian leaders in the state are speaking out against Amendment 1.


Randy Brinson, the president of the Christian Coalition of Alabama — one of the state’s largest network of conservative evangelicals — is one of the religious figures lending his voice to the opposition campaign. In an interview with the Birmingham News this week, Brinson said that the effort to pass Amendment 1 is “just silliness,” adding that “it’s all something that lawmakers can trumpet back to constituents that they’re protecting Christian values, but they need to be working on other stuff.”


“Sharia law is not going to be implemented in Alabama, it just isn’t,” Brinson said. “This is a tremendous waste of effort… My frustration is that people — good people — get behind something like this just because they want to score political points with the Christian community. But it’s redundant — you don’t need to amend the constitution to address these issues. I just don’t think they thought through this particular thing.”


Plus, Brinson opposes Amendment 1 because he believes it would communicate to other countries that Alabama doesn’t respect their laws. He also worries the measure could impose additional barriers on people seeking to complete foreign adoptions, get married abroad, or conduct business with colleagues outside the United States’ borders.


And he’s using those messages to rally members of his organization to vote against the ballot initiative. In email blasts sent to the Christian Coalition of Alabama, Brinson urges members to sign a petition against Amendment 1 to “protect Alabama from unnecessary laws” and “protect international adoptions.”


“While State Amendment 1 on this November’s ballot may not appear to be harmful, the law would jeopardize adoptions, marriages, and religious liberty in our state,” the petition, which has garnered over 30,000 signatures so far, reads.


Other faith groups in the state are starting to get involved, too. The Greater Birmingham Ministries, an African-American ministry alliance with a focus on direct service and social justice work, has joined Brinson’s group in opposing the ballot measure.


“This could clog our courts with frivolous lawsuits that would have the protection of this constitutional amendment,” Scott Douglas, the executive director of Greater Birmingham Ministries, told the Birmingham News. “Besides, they say they want to protect against ‘foreign law’? I think, if they check back, Christianity was not founded in Alabama.”


Other recent efforts to ban sharia law have come up short. Although more than 30 states have proposed bills banning international law, most have failed to pass. In Oklahoma, after the state constitution was amended to outlaw the use of Sharia law in U.S. courts, a federal court struck it down, pointing out that the amendment essentially codified anti-Muslim discrimination into law.


Amendment One to outlaw 'foreign law' in Alabama? Not such a good idea, some Christians say


The stated intent of Amendment One on the upcoming Nov. 4, 2014, Alabama ballot is to protect Alabamians from the insinuation into Alabama courts of any foreign law. It also outlaws dependence on law from other states that "violate public policy" in Alabama.


Dr. Randy Brinson, President of the Christian Coalition of Alabama


Does that make Amendment One a good idea? No, says Alabama Christian Coalition president Dr. Randy Brinson, speaking on behalf of one of the state's largest network of evangelical Christians. Brinson supports the statements posted by Christians Against Amendment One.

"This is a tremendous waste of effort. It's is a waste of time and it  costs money," Brinson said Thursday morning, talking with between seeing patients at his medical practice in Montgomery. "This just creates a whole new headache for people involved in foreign adoptions or who get married in another country. My frustration is that people -- good people -- get behind something like this just because they want to score political points with the Christian community. But it's redundant - you don't need to amend the constitution to address these issues. I just don't think they thought through this particular thing." more



Why Donald Trump is tearing evangelicals apart


Pastor Rick Scarborough has spent 20 years traveling the country to politically mobilize evangelical voters and knows better than most just how un-monolithic they are. In recent years, those differences have just gotten more pronounced, said Scarborough.

“In the past when we’d talk about abortion, 90 percent said: ‘You’re right.’”  Now half seem to have experienced it or know someone who has, he said.  And “when Falwell spoke against gay marriage there was unanimity. Now half the congregation has a niece or brother who is impacted.”

But the Texas Baptist says he’s never witnessed the bitter divisions among evangelicals that this GOP primary season has unleashed.

Every day, Scarborough fields calls from distressed pastors who don’t know which candidate they’re supposed to support. Many, especially the conservative ones, are floored that candidates seem to show little interest in gay marriage, abortion and religious liberty issues. Some Trump supporters are threatening to leave their churches if their pastors preach against the Republican frontrunner. Arguments have broken out among prominent evangelical leaders about whether the Biblical mandate to love the sinner should include Donald Trump. more





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