Thomas Quinn is an Emmy-nominated producer and writer for television and print, an author and speaker, and a skeptic.

He received his M.F.A. from the American Film Institute, worked as a story analyst for DreamWorks, Universal and HBO, and was a film critic and entertainment reporter for a Los Angeles weekly.

In 2005, Tom received two Emmy nominations as writer and producer of "Beyond the Da Vinci Code" for the History Channel.

Originally from New Jersey, he now lives in Los Angeles.

Newt Gingrich Fears Sharia Law, and Maybe Klingons, too

   Who else could so easily top the slanderous rhetoric of the latest pants-wetting by Glenn Beck than the Republican candidate for Mr. überconservative, Newt Gingrich? At the so-called Values Voter Summit this weekend (and I’m not sure who values these voters), Newt went medieval on Islam by proposing legislation to ban sharia law (think Saudi Arabia) from being recognized by any U.S. court, warning that our terrorist enemies are out to subject America to theocratic rule. Obviously, for Newt, that’s a job for the Christian Right.
   Gingrich is cravenly milking the Bush Administration myth that, before September 11, we Americans were just sittin’ around, bein’ free, minding our own business…when all of the sudden these barbarians attacked us because they were bugged to distraction over our happiness. (U.S tanks crawling over their holy lands for a decade apparently made no impression.)
   But Newt does Bush one better by claiming their ultimate plan is to subject all of America to strict Muslim rule—never mind that they live in caves on the other side of the world and had to hijack four of our own planes to do any serious damage. Exactly how do they intend to impose this Islamic Dark Age? They build a community center in New York and half the country gets revved up for Crusades 2.0. Meanwhile, the children of their elites can’t wait to go clubbing whenever they head West. Honestly, in a conflict of civilizations that pits the seductive power of their faith against our strippers, we win every time.

   What’s got Newt’s butt in a pucker is a case last year in which a New Jersey court denied a restraining order to a woman who said her Muslim husband forcibly had sex with her. The judge didn’t believe the husband had any “criminal desire to or intent to sexually assault” his wife because his behavior was “consistent with his practices.” It was a bad ruling and it was reversed a year later. But apparently Newt is mistaking the judge’s misguided concession to cultural differences as an attempt to recognize sharia law.    Conservatives love to sound very feminist when condemning sharia law, objecting to the brutal way it can sometimes treat women, and forgetting how many black-eyed wives you can spot at a NASCAR rally. But Newt is terrified that this one case is the harbinger of 10th century Islamic rule in America. I wonder how he reacts to a threat of rain. 

   While fretting over fictional perils, Newt needs to be reminded that we already have a law that protects us against religious rule—the First Amendment—which he tends to skip over on his way to the Second. No, Mr. Newt, it isn’t just Christian superstitions we want to keep out of our law books and textbooks. We want our democracy free of everybody’s spooky stuff, no matter which Almighty is involved. And for good reason. You think sharia law is scary? Have you checked out Mosaic law, lately? If you want to cherry-pick juicy morsels from a holy book, which the Right does routinely with the Quran, we can also recite some of the Old Testament’s greatest hits:
   There are rules for the proper care and treatment of slaves (example: you can beat him as long as he survives a day or two) [Ex 21:21], witches must be killed [Ex 22:18], sacrifices to other gods warrant utter destruction [Ex 22:20], working on the Sabbath gets the death penalty [Ex 31:15], conquest is justified…“I will cast out the nations before you, and enlarge your borders…” [Ex 34:24], there is capital punishment for adultery [Lev 20:10], and there’s a ban against making offerings to God if you have crushed testicles [Lev 21:20]. (Was this a big enough problem to require a rule?).      There is a lot more, including the spattering bull’s blood on the altar of the tabernacle and whatnot. Altogether, it’s not a fair picture. But I wonder how many Muslims might be sitting around judging the bible, and us, based on these choice tidbits.   

   Lastly, there is Christian law—which is simply believing in Jesus. Of course, the reason it’s simple is because it’s so vague. It can mean anything you want, which is very convenient. You can invent your own religion; everybody does it. Sure, there are certain unavoidable ideas like believing in the Resurrection and not blaspheming the Holy Spirit lest you burn in hell with no hope of forgiveness. But there have also been more creative ideas, like why witches had to be burned, why Jews had to be banished, why Muslims had to be conquered, why science had to be stifled, and why God comes in three parts. (Some assembly required.) And as for Newt’s fear of Islam’s global agenda–heck, everyone has one of those. The final verses of the New Testament envision a one-world theocracy under God. Mohammad wasn’t the first one with this idea.
   Beyond all that, Christian jihadists like Newt insert their own agendas into holy writ. Thus, “God’s will” goes far beyond stated objections to The Gay, and extends into stuff he never mentions like outlawing abortion, the ban on school prayer, teaching evolution, deficits, capital gains taxes, Pentagon budget cuts, contraception, sex education, sex, and anyone who dares ask what Sarah Palin reads. (Actually, Newt might be willing to take a crack at Palin.)    You see, in Newt World, laws based on religious morality are not just a good idea—they are necessary for America’s survival. But it’s got to be the right religion (his) and only the parts of it that he likes (never mind all that “brother’s keeper” stuff). Given his list of what to ban, he has more in common with Islamic fundamentalists than he thinks.

   “Sharia,” by the way, means “the path” or “the way” as in, “Prepare the way of the Lord; make his paths straight.” [Matt 3:3] Just FYI, in case you wondered what alien concepts these Muslim guys have in mind.
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  • Ezra Meridian:

    Very Funny, especially our strippers winning in the conflict of civilizations.

  • salliezoo:

    Great stuff Thomas. Just finished reading your book "What do you do with a chocolate jesus?" I regret it took me so long to discover your books. I'm back at Amazon looking for more. Keep em coming…Thanks!

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