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In the wake of the barbaric attack by Muslims on the city of Paris, presidential candidate Donald Trump said on Monday that shutting down mosques is something we should “strongly consider.”
Said Trump during an interview with MSNBC, “Well, I would hate to do it but it’s something you’re going to have to strongly consider. Some of the absolute hatred is coming from these areas…The hatred is incredible. It’s embedded. The hatred is beyond belief. The hatred is greater than anybody understands.”
The interior minister of France, dealing with the tragic reality of 129 dead bodies at the hands of the “religion of peace,” said much the same thing, calling for the “dissolution of mosques where hate is preached.”
There is no question but that we are long past the time when many mosques in America should be shut down. They foment hatred and violence against the United States on a weekly basis and many have become recruiting and training centers for the most radical elements of Islam.
We likewise should ban Islamic chaplains in our prisons, which have become little more than recruiting centers for jihad. Couple angry, bitter, violent inmates with a religion that legitimizes violence against the country that put them behind bars? What could possibly go wrong?
Any discussion about restricting the practice of Islam immediately counters First Amendment objections. Why, we are told, “Muslims have freedom of religion in America under the Constitution just like Christians do! You can’t shut down a mosque! That would be unconstitutional!”
Whether it is unconstitutional or not all depends on whether we are using the Constitution as crafted by the Founders or the one mangled beyond recognition by the courts.
As I have written before, everything hinges on what the Founders meant by the term “religion” in the First Amendment. If by it they meant “any supernatural system of belief,” as activist judges contend, there may not be much we can do to close mosques or keep giant statues of Satan off government property.
But if we understand “religion” as the Founders did, to refer specifically to Christianity, then there is a perfectly constitutional way to shut down mosques starting today.
The longest serving associate justice in Supreme Court history, Joseph Story, wrote a masterful, majestic and definitive history of the Constitution. It has never been excelled. He wrote in 1833 while the founding era was still fresh in memory. Story was appointed to the Court by James Madison, the Father of the Constitution, in 1811, and thus was a contemporary of those who had crafted the Bill of Rights.
Critically for our purposes, Story observed the First Amendment was written exclusively to protect the free exercise of the Christian religion.
Said Story (emphasis mine throughout):
“The real object of the amendment was, not to countenance, much less to advance Mahometanism, or Judaism, or infidelity, by prostrating Christianity; but to exclude all rivalry among Christian sects, and to prevent…