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View Diary: Religious Training for Detainees (25 comments)

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  •  Good points all (1+ / 0-)
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    Neon Mama

    The OIF website does not provide any answers to your questions, nor could I find any other sources that offered more detailed information.  This may be a new program; I didn't find any pre-2008 media mentions of it.

    I see all of the same problems you describe.  But remember that we can't argue only the Establishment Clause side of this.

    If the First Amendment applies here at all, then both the Establishment and Free Exercise Clauses apply equally.  While the former forbids us from prescribing religious doctrine, the latter compels us to provide services and support for detainees' religious practices.

    So we've a quandary.  If the First Amendment does apply, the Free Exercise Clause requires letting volunteer and lay teachers in to provide religious services and support.  But while U.S. forces would have a duty to exclude volunteers who pose safety threats, the Establishment Clause forbids them from excluding volunteers based on religious doctrine.

    But this conflict has been cast as a "war against radical Islam."  That is, a war against a religious doctrine, Wahabist Sunni and the radical strains of Shi'a, both of which teach that sharia should be the fundamental civil law in the Muslim world.  And as stated explicitly by John McCain, these religious doctrines are "the transcendant challenge of our time."

    This calls into First Amendment question the entire Bush/McCain "war against radical Islam," for such a war establishes a specific religion as an enemy of the United States.  While we may protect ourselves from criminals, the Establishment Clause forbids us to specify criminality based on religious doctrine.

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