Meet Wyoming’s Anti-Shari’ah Crusader

In an interview, State Rep. Gerald Gay (R-Casper), sponsor of a resolution in the Wyoming legislature which would, if passed, amend the state’s constitution to “forbid courts from using international law or sharia law when deciding cases,” said his motivation was “I don’t want our laws having origins in other places, foreign religions or foreign countries.”

When I asked him whether he considered Islam to be a “foreign religion,” Gay hedged: “It’s not that it’s a foreign religion,” he said, “but we do believe very strongly in the separation of church and state which many, many Islamic believers do not believe that to be true. People who believe in shari’ah – shari’ah is church and state under one aegis.”

That, of course, is simply not true; as Haroon Moghul has written here and explained in this bloggingheadstv episode, shari’ah is a process of engaging with sacred texts, an ongoing conversation, not a set of concrete rules or laws that must be followed.

Indeed a federal judge, in issuing a preliminary injunction blocking implementation of a similar ban in Oklahoma, found that the ban itself may very well be a violation of church-state separation.  Ruling on a challenge by the Oklahoma chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations, Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange wrote:

the amendment conveys an official government message of disapproval and hostility toward [the plaintiff’s] religious beliefs, that sends a clear message he is an outsider, not a full member of the political community, thereby chilling his access to the government and forcing him to curtail his political and religious activities. Further, the Court finds the consequences – the condemnation – that plaintiff believes will result from the amendment are objectively justified. Finally, the Court would note that it would be incomprehensible if, as plaintiff alleges, Oklahoma could condemn the religion of its Muslim citizens, yet one of those
citizens could not defend himself in court against his government’s preferment of other religious views.

That, the judge wrote in her order, would violate the First Amendment prohibition on government establishment of religion.

Gay says he makes all his “governmental decisions based on certain tenants [sic] of the Christian faith.” In response to a questionnaire by the religious right group WyWatch, which endorsed his candidacy and contributed to his campaign, Gay answered the question, “Do you support or oppose using taxpayer monies to extend employee benefits to unmarried partners of government employees?” with “oppose,” and added the additional bonus of, “I oppose co-habitation of all sorts.” He supports an amendment to the U.S. Constitution defining marriage as between one man and one woman. He supports requiring teachers “to present the evidences both supportive of and contradictory to the theory of evolution.” And in response to the question on abortion, he said it should never be allowed, adding, “Life comes from God. Life begins at conception. Abortion is always tantamount to murder.”

This from a lawmaker who is worried that a murder defendant in Arizona will claim his was an “honor killing,” leading all of America down the inevitable path to an Islamic theocracy.

WyWatch, on its website, clearly states that it’s “Judeo-Christian values” that should dictate our laws:

The Mission of WyWatch is to promote and support legislation that sustains our constitutional rights, upholds Judeo-Christian values on which the nation was founded, protects innocent life from conception to natural death, preserves the rights of parents to raise and determine the education of their children, and maintains the institution of marriage as being between one man and one woman. WyWatch will actively endeavor to advance legislation that aligns with such ideals, and oppose those actions which may potentially undermine them.

Gay, a retired engineer, worked for oil companies in Saudi Arabia for 12 years and says he’s “experienced [shari’ah] first-hand.” Is the U.S. on the verge of becoming Saudi Arabia, I asked? “Saudi Arabia is a very extreme example of shari’ah and Iran would be another extreme example,” said Gay, “but that’s where we’re going if we defer to the radicals who are at war with us.”

Why doesn’t a red-blooded, tea party Republican like Gay think America can stand up to this, uh, threat? “Americans need to pull their heads out of the sand and realize the threat,” said Gay, continuing with his sandy Arabian metaphors, because “pretty soon you have the camel’s nose under the tent.”

It starts with imposing rules on banking and inheritance, he said, and then relationships and divorces, and “from there on, it becomes a bit of a theocratic nightmare.”

Sort of like forcing schools to teach creationism, opposing all kinds of “co-habitation,” and deeming abortion to be “murder.”