3 readers online now  |  69 million page views

religious tests vs ideological test

Reader comment on item: Smoking Out Islamists via Extreme Vetting

Submitted by Erich Wieger (United States), Jan 30, 2017 at 20:38

Dear Dr. Pipes

I would suggest that before deciding on questions to be asked, that the political ideology of Islamist supremicism be explicitly distinguished from Islam's specifically religious commitments, in constitutionally unassailable policy briefs. This distinction could be called a fiction by some serious Muslims or serious critics of Islam, who both look for an integrated authentic Islam of political order and religion; but fiction or not, it is a necessary distinction for political clarity and for freedom of religion issues. It is a sticky issue: by doing so is one giving a religious judgment? But comprehensive political commitments such as Islamic supremicism must be classified as anti-constitutional political goals, not as religion. Has this been done?

Without making this distinction, Mitch McConnell's warning that in the United States we do not use religious tests will go unheeded, and otherwise useful questioning will be overturned in the courts for crossing the line .

Critiquing a few diagnostic questions as purely religious, nor political:

As a theologically conservative Christian, I may hold to the doctrine that those outside of Christ are eternally lost. A Muslim may have a very roughly parallel eschatology--non Muslims are the Infidel destined for the Fire. Asking a question about the eternal destiny of the unbeliever, or who he unbeliever is, as the list of questions in your article asks (questions 8 and 63), does not help to identify the ideology of Islamism, any more than in the Christian's case, it would identify a Christian theocratic political ideology.

It is a legitimate religious posture to declare the invalidity of dogma contrary to the Word of God as one's community believes it. It is unconstitutional to deny the legal rights to practice and preach those contrary dogmas. Questions used to vet entry to the US need to focus on the latter, not the former state of mind. Asking if other religions are "valid" is therefore invalid (questions 58, 59).

Similarly a conservative Christian community may believe in particularly modest feminine attire, like my Mennonite friends or my Ethiopian Orthodox neighbors. I think the questions in your list focuses on who and how these strictures are enforced. That gets more to the ideology of political power in society, and the forceful suppression of women. The focus might be sharpened so as not to run afoul of your introductory remarks that hijab is not an indicator of Islamic supremicism. Question 29 needs clarification. Is "right" there a legal right, or does the devout woman believe it is right to dress however she pleases? Religious "right" is different from legal rights.

It would be distressing to the religious feeling of many Christians, Muslims or Jews if one of their children would become homosexual--an issue one of the questions probes (question 41). That says nothing about theocratic ideology nor about acknowledging the equal legal rights of homosexuals, which is the issue at stake. The sacredness of gender and sex is a legitimate religious concern that does not need to be an indicator of an oppressive political ideology or domestic violence. The question is what do to the devout do when they are grieved by the behavior of family, neighbors, or fellow-citizens. "How would you respond?" is a good question only if the answer allows for a range of responses other than violence or coercion. Similarly questions about a family member marrying "outside the faith" need to be asked in order to look out for violent or coercive responses, not merely disapproval or grief. The latter is fairly normal religious feeling, the former is a crime.

The prospect of those being interviewed engaging in self-misrepresentation is huge, as you indicate. The danger of consular and border control officials developing an institutional culture of inquisition to ferret out reality is real--does this program create the institutional culture we want? Rather than repeated probing interviews comparing responses to records of previous responses, as the inquisitors used to do, perhaps a program of better human and ciber intelligence on Islamic supremicist networks coupled with security investigations of doubtful applicants, would allow for screening at the front end. Then the dance of multiple interviews would be superfluous.

As per your introductory comments, I would not, as CAIR alleges US customs and border control has done, ask about prayer rugs, praying five times a day, or carrying a Quran in one's luggage. These are not indicators of Islamist political committments. Adherence to known ideologues of Islamic supremicism and connections to such networks are much better indicators. Dangerous individuals are not likely to confess those connections. The key is intelligence work.

Warm regards

Erich Wieger


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".

Submit a comment on this item

Reader comments (119) on this item

Title Commenter Date Thread
American Religious Liberty: Freedom From Religion vs. Freedom for Religion [340 words]RobertMar 30, 2017 06:06238021
Poor, Misunderstood, Khalid Masood - British Born London Terrorist [268 words]RobertMar 23, 2017 14:46237856
1Muslims Aren't Terrorists, But Terrorists Are Muslims [368 words]RobertMar 20, 2017 13:52237785
1A tweet by Ben Shapiro to Reza Aslan: "You're Gross"! [206 words]
w/response from Daniel Pipes
dhimmi no moreMar 12, 2017 18:04237560
3Note that Hirsi Ali doesn't think even 'moderate Islam' is the answer [73 words]AnonMar 14, 2017 10:48237560
2Ayaan Hirsi Ali v Erdogan on Islam [51 words]dhimmi no moreMar 16, 2017 11:19237560
1I think Reza Aslan should work for democracy in Islamic world [149 words]PrashantMar 16, 2017 23:35237560
Vetting Christians and Jews [48 words]
w/response from Daniel Pipes
EbenMar 11, 2017 13:36237515
4Middle East Migrants [14 words]mjazzguitarMar 8, 2017 20:34237245
7Smoke out the Islamists [53 words]Larry R.Mar 1, 2017 06:18237066
What about American born Islamists? [211 words]NadiaMar 9, 2017 16:50237066
11Follow up to: Smoke out the Islamists [595 words]Larry R.Mar 10, 2017 11:25237066
5Reply to: What about American born Islamists? [428 words]Larry R.Mar 11, 2017 07:20237066
what to do with the Muslim quandary? [122 words]allan enkinMar 16, 2017 19:32237066
1Dr Pipes, what say you about the apparently ironically named Department of Homeland Security? [77 words]AnonFeb 26, 2017 15:00236999
Nat Security Advisor McMaster seems to think Muslims shouldn't be vetted at all! [109 words]Michael SFeb 26, 2017 00:15236990
Vetting v Extreme vetting [284 words]dhimmi no moreFeb 24, 2017 11:44236951
Smoking Out Islamists by Self-Selection [119 words]Martin J. MallietFeb 24, 2017 06:35236947
1Interview questions [241 words]Carl GoldbergFeb 22, 2017 19:37236896
3The Torah & the Talmud; Christ & the Church [773 words]RobertFeb 25, 2017 22:30236896
2Verses to use in vetting [637 words]Michael SFeb 28, 2017 04:43236896
The only problem with limiting Islamist immigration, is the current American state of confusion [213 words]Michael SFeb 28, 2017 05:05236896
1Historical and Moral Issue - 100 Years of Racism after Slavery [213 words]RobertMar 3, 2017 06:48236896
1Simple statement of fact [77 words]PrashantMar 3, 2017 23:05236896
God, save us from Left Wing "morality". [153 words]Michael SMar 6, 2017 03:46236896
1"Parable of the Good Samaritan" vs. "Racism" [411 words]RobertMar 9, 2017 02:35236896
We disagree completely, about racism, religion and some other matters. [473 words]Michael SMar 11, 2017 13:35236896
Congress, Religion, & Racism [584 words]RobertMar 14, 2017 12:24236896
Race, "Racism" and Morality [588 words]Michael SMar 16, 2017 06:44236896
When the Bible Judges Racism [317 words]M ToveyMar 17, 2017 15:17236896
matter of definition. [90 words]Mohammed Waza Khiddif id'UllahMar 18, 2017 01:33236896
"Race " meaning - Oxford English Dictionary [347 words]RobertMar 20, 2017 02:15236896
Races vs. Pseudo-races [248 words]Michael SMar 20, 2017 22:40236896
"Racism" is a greatly exaggerated phenomenon [451 words]Michael SMar 21, 2017 00:28236896
The First Amentment is more constrained by federal policy, than by Islam [140 words]Michael SMar 21, 2017 00:46236896
Exactly, refugees can go home once the war is over [115 words]NadiaApr 24, 2017 11:57236896
5Does the 14 Amendment to the USA Constitution Bar President Donald Trump from Stopping Muslim Immigrants ? No. [331 words]RobertFeb 17, 2017 11:47236785
why not a full ban? [202 words]
w/response from Daniel Pipes
Mitch FuggerFeb 16, 2017 04:17236754
There Are No Peaceful Muslims [78 words]benFeb 20, 2017 12:26236754
how a 100% ban would in effect surrender border control [65 words]mythFeb 22, 2017 12:19236754
You may be right, Ben [28 words]Michael SFeb 26, 2017 00:09236754
5Is It Unconstututional for thr President to Discriminate Against Foreign Muslim Immigrating to the USA ? [171 words]RobertFeb 13, 2017 23:19236706
4simple rules [105 words]Mohammed Waza Khiddif id'UllahFeb 16, 2017 04:51236706
The animals are loose [109 words]Michael SFeb 26, 2017 00:04236706
Some questions are way too bias against a religious person"s right to believe [120 words]
w/response from Daniel Pipes
DanielFeb 13, 2017 01:26236682
CIS and extreme vetting. [106 words]
w/response from Daniel Pipes
Jay WillinghamFeb 12, 2017 13:17236664
Objectivizing the process: Islamicity Index? [226 words]
w/response from Daniel Pipes
YochananFeb 12, 2017 08:08236656
1You Are dealing with MUslims [121 words]
w/response from Daniel Pipes
Gloria StewartFeb 11, 2017 23:31236646
Why admit Muslims? [165 words]Gloria StewartFeb 17, 2017 21:21236646
2ban [18 words]
w/response from Daniel Pipes
helenFeb 10, 2017 00:59236570
3The Establishment Clause in the Context of the Fifth & Fourteenth Amenments (USA) [473 words]RobertFeb 12, 2017 15:53236570
2Vetting without explicit reference to Islam [365 words]Chaim YankelFeb 9, 2017 15:25236557
4Establishment of Islam as the Religion of the USA by Islamists [637 words]RobertFeb 9, 2017 14:26236552
Who are Islamists? [197 words]
w/response from Daniel Pipes
Andrew AndersonFeb 2, 2017 11:39236240
Extreme vetting [65 words]
w/response from Daniel Pipes
FatherJonFeb 1, 2017 16:59236206
A simple, three-step, approach [307 words]Michael SFeb 7, 2017 17:21236206
1... one-sided [91 words]
w/response from Daniel Pipes
MarsFeb 1, 2017 12:39236201
1Porque? [31 words]
w/response from Daniel Pipes
carlos alberto feldmanFeb 1, 2017 12:32236199
Distinguir malas intenciones de Buenos - [247 words]M ToveyFeb 6, 2017 17:12236199
People who deny Radical Islamic Terrorism, including Gen. McMaster, undermine America [479 words]M ShoemakerFeb 26, 2017 04:24236199
Not All of America's Enemies Are Muslim [311 words]M ToveyFeb 27, 2017 11:45236199
Even President Sisi welcomes use of the term "Radical Islamic Terrorism" [223 words]Michael SMar 3, 2017 14:59236199
Radical Islamic Terrorism: Not the Only Threat to America [243 words]M ToveyMar 6, 2017 16:48236199
Turkey- [333 words]Michael SMar 8, 2017 01:57236199
How much of world's GNP is wasted on Islam? [408 words]PrashantMar 8, 2017 22:40236199
Religion is 24/7, or it is not a religion [137 words]Michael SMar 11, 2017 12:42236199
3Antidisestablishmentarianism vs. Establishing Creeping Islamism in the United States [289 words]RobertFeb 1, 2017 12:07236198
All we are saying,is give Trump a chance [226 words]StanFeb 1, 2017 08:09236182
9The real problem is neither "muslims" nor "islamists" [69 words]
w/response from Daniel Pipes
marlanFeb 1, 2017 06:22236177
People are people and not ideology [186 words]mythFeb 5, 2017 15:10236177
A totalitarian system has to be removed, sooner or later [63 words]marlanFeb 7, 2017 10:09236177
Two wrong views [78 words]PezDispenserFeb 14, 2017 04:08236177
There is nothing such as "moderate" islam [34 words]marlanFeb 16, 2017 07:34236177
Reply [91 words]PezDispenserFeb 20, 2017 05:18236177
we need muslims in the West to defeat islamism [139 words]mythFeb 22, 2017 12:47236177
1I do not believe in islam-free muslims [123 words]marlanFeb 24, 2017 06:43236177
1In-order to defeat Islamism support moderate Muslims and for sure never support the Muslim Brotherhood [194 words]dhimmi no moreFeb 27, 2017 08:32236177
vet indivuduals and don't cooperate with islamic organizations [231 words]mythMar 3, 2017 03:27236177
I am sure the "islamists" will be smoked out of the United Islamic States [101 words]marlanMar 4, 2017 10:13236177
1There are violent doctrines in Islam [117 words]dhimmi no moreMar 6, 2017 08:18236177
The source of Radical Islamic Terrorism? [100 words]dhimmi no moreMar 6, 2017 08:38236177
1Islam is not reformable [83 words]marlanMar 20, 2017 05:52236177
Pointless Questioner [34 words]
w/response from Daniel Pipes
Nathan MetricFeb 1, 2017 06:15236175
1A perfect answer to my letter on the Trump ban published in the Jerusalem Post yesterday: [207 words]Mladen AndrijasevicFeb 1, 2017 02:37236164
Ineffective ban [95 words]
w/response from Daniel Pipes
AnonJan 31, 2017 18:06236143
Re: Ineffective ban [240 words]AnonFeb 2, 2017 21:30236143
1Repeated questions [135 words]
w/response from Daniel Pipes
MarkJan 31, 2017 14:53236133
Muslims do not consider it wrong to lie. [38 words]Michael SFeb 1, 2017 03:41236133
non serious Trump [100 words]ASFeb 4, 2017 05:08236133
2With whom does the burden of proof lie? [74 words]
w/response from Daniel Pipes
Stu FaginJan 30, 2017 22:08236088
5My Letter to jpost.com on Trump's Travel Ban [129 words]DaveJan 30, 2017 21:07236084
religious tests vs ideological test [766 words]Erich WiegerJan 30, 2017 20:38236083
6American Constitutional Rights - for the Rest of (Wo)mankind [620 words]RobertJan 31, 2017 13:36236083
1"Cheat Codes" [260 words]Mark HummelJan 31, 2017 21:06236083
correction [172 words]Erich Robert WiegerFeb 1, 2017 13:37236083
1Protecing the Rule of American Law - America's Protection is the World's Protection [411 words]M ToveyFeb 1, 2017 19:03236083
3The only way to vet refugees [145 words]
w/response from Daniel Pipes
GamalielJan 30, 2017 18:20236075
Questions? Born to lie! [99 words]Nick BointonFeb 1, 2017 08:32236075
4The "10%-15% of Muslims who are Islamists" [368 words]
w/response from Daniel Pipes
PeterJan 30, 2017 12:40236074
1irrational omission of Saudi Arabia ,Morocco, Tunesia, Algeria [43 words]mythJan 31, 2017 16:53236074
active criminals same age group as active islamists [137 words]mythFeb 27, 2017 06:12236074
7Contemplating Amendment XXVIII to the USA Constitution [677 words]RobertJan 30, 2017 07:55236064
Congress cannot alter the Bill of Rights; but this shouldn't be a major problem for our President [625 words]Michael SJan 31, 2017 08:03236064
1islamic violence against the West in pre 1791 times in Saint Tropez [112 words]mythJan 31, 2017 16:46236064
Feeling left out? [121 words]
w/response from Daniel Pipes
Moderate PragmatistJan 30, 2017 00:39236042
Scary [202 words]
w/response from Daniel Pipes
Nazim AbdullayevJan 29, 2017 17:05236022
4President Donald Trump supports LGTBQ Rights [349 words]RobertJan 31, 2017 12:36236022
1Resentment and fear, out of nowhere [285 words]JeffJan 31, 2017 15:35236022
not going to happen [366 words]Mohammed Waza Khiddif id'UllahFeb 1, 2017 04:19236022
64% populists [122 words]JeffFeb 7, 2017 15:50236022
3"Do you support Israel, or Zionism?" "Yes." "Let her in !" [102 words]RobertJan 29, 2017 15:10236019
5This Discrimination "Wuestionaire" Discriminates Against Very Bad Muslims - an Inadvertance ? [316 words]RobertJan 29, 2017 14:31236017
4CAIR Florida Disnonesty: "American Muslim" Means Canadian Citizen [111 words]RobertJan 29, 2017 14:02236008
Just nationality? [12 words]GabrielJan 29, 2017 08:30235975
2Comment [141 words]Barbara SkibaJan 28, 2017 19:57235940
3can the US send the applicant back? [122 words]mythJan 28, 2017 16:45235931
1Treaties between States/Countries Governing Deportation [142 words]RobertJan 29, 2017 14:51235931
2It's the new converts who are dangerous [138 words]Michael SJan 30, 2017 06:03235931
Questions for the Muslim Applicant for a Visa to the US!! [142 words]Paul WarrenJan 30, 2017 22:56235931

Comment on this item

Mark my comment as a response to religious tests vs ideological test by Erich Wieger

Email me if someone replies to my comment

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".

See recent outstanding comments.

Follow Daniel Pipes

Facebook   Twitter   RSS   Join Mailing List

All materials by Daniel Pipes on this site: © 1968-2020 Daniel Pipes. daniel.pipes@gmail.com and @DanielPipes

Support Daniel Pipes' work with a tax-deductible donation to the Middle East Forum.Daniel J. Pipes

(The MEF is a publicly supported, nonprofit organization under section 501(c)3 of the Internal Revenue Code.

Contributions are tax deductible to the full extent allowed by law. Tax-ID 23-774-9796, approved Apr. 27, 1998.

For more information, view our IRS letter of determination.)