Washington, D.C. — Interfaith Alliance today announced its opposition to legislation currently before the Florida Senate, already passed by the Florida House of Representatives, which would ban the use of foreign law, including Sharia, Islamic law, in courts. Interfaith Alliance has been a leader in efforts to combat anti-Muslim bigotry, prevent unnecessary legislation such as that in Florida, and create respect and understanding among people of all faiths and beliefs. In response to the legislation, Interfaith Alliance President Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy issued the following statement:
A bill currently under consideration by the Florida Legislature, which would prevent the use of foreign law in courts, is clearly a thinly veiled effort to ban Sharia, Islamic law, and it is a pointless exercise aimed at solving a problem that does not actually exist. In this country, the U.S. Constitution is the supreme law of the land. The Constitution’s ‘Supremacy Clause’ makes clear that it is binding above all other forms of law, Sharia and Florida law included. There is no real danger of Sharia law being imposed on America at large. And those who choose to follow its teachings are protected by the First Amendment. Furthermore, by broadly attempting to ban the use of ‘foreign law,’ a category which all religious legal codes fall into, the Florida Legislature is infringing upon the rights of all people of faith.
There is much misinformation about Sharia law. The fact is that the place of Sharia law in the life of American Muslims is no different than that of Canon law for Catholics, or Halacha for Jews. The list could go on. Each one holds important meaning for its followers but is not legally binding on those who follow a different set of beliefs, nor can it trump our Constitution, if the two were ever to conflict.
Rather than engaging in an exercise aimed at disenfranchising the American Muslim community, Florida lawmakers should spend their time focusing on issues that have actual impact on the lives of their constituents.
Interfaith Alliance celebrates religious freedom by championing individual rights, promoting policies that protect both religion and democracy, and uniting diverse voices to challenge extremism. Founded in 1994, Interfaith Alliance brings together members from 75 faith traditions as well as those without a faith tradition to protect faith and freedom. For more information visit www.interfaithalliance.org.