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Jewish Religious Courts already exist, Why not Sharia?

Reader comment on item: Oklahomans Say No to Sharia

Submitted by Fred Schlomka (Israel), Dec 14, 2010 at 00:02

A network of Orthodox Jewish religious courts (Halakha) exist across the United States and in other countries. Their activities are permitted, so why not Sharia courts? In democracies, religious courts are consensual, functioning for the benefit of the communities they serve, mostly in matters of family status, marriage, divorce etc. They may not, of course, submit judgments that violate state or federal law. Like some Sharia courts in the Middle East, there was a time when Jewish Courts would issue draconian rulings for such 'crimes' as violating the Sabbath. In Israel they still have the power to fine or imprison people for certain violations of religious law. In Israel religious courts also have absolute Jurisdiction in many matters. However in Europe and the USA, these courts have to also abide by local laws, as does Sharia institutions.

There are many other communities in the USA that have unusual, religious-based rules for their members. The Mormons and the Amish are good examples. They often reject the American court system in favor of their own 'Godly' method of resolving many disputes and infractions of religious dictates.

No-one wants a return to the Christian-Catholic Religious courts of the middle ages that tortured and executed people for behavior that is not even considered a crime today, such as heresy. But Catholics can still be excommunicated from the church in a judicial-style process.

Religious criteria, whether Christian, Muslim, or Jewish, should not be a factor in decisions of US state or Federal courts. However these separate courts have been traditional in many religious communities and seem to operate fairly well in democracies based on past experience.

Sharia will never become 'the law of the land', neither will Halakha or Catholic Religious dogma, but for observant Catholics, Muslims and Jews their institutions are an important part of religious practice. Providing that state and federal laws are observed, and participation is voluntary, their function is one of mediation, community cohesion, and of course the enforcement of religious rules on people who choose to be part of their community.

Submitting....

Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

Daniel Pipes replies:

I reject comparisons of Islamism to Judaism or Christianity, Mormons or Amish, but instead see it in the light of fascism and communism.

Jews and Amish do not try to take over the United States; Islamists do. For proof, watch developments in Great Britain, where they are making substantial inroads, as I documented at "Britain's Encounter with Islamic Law."

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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