Theocracy is antithetical to American ideals. It was not coincidental that the founding fathers of our country had the foresight to delineate the separation of Church and State in our Constitution; the United States was founded to allow its citizens to practice the religion of their choice in peace.
In the case of radical interpretations of Islam, theocracy not only stands in stark opposition to American ideals of tolerance and peace, it can be—quite literally—deadly.
The presumed terrorist attacks last weekend in Manhattan, New Jersey, and Minnesota illustrated this existential threat in grave detail, the latest in a litany of domestic radical Islamic terror attacks against a country still reeling from the massacre on the gay nightclub Pulse in Orlando in the early-morning hours of June 12.
49 members of the LGBT community and friends lost their lives that day, in an attack inspired by a twisted interpretation of the teachings of Mohammed. Even Alan Grayson, the Democratic Congressman whose district included Pulse Nightclub, declared the attack was “ideologically motivated.”
Log Cabin Republicans, the organization for which I have the honor of serving as President, was the only LGBT advocacy organization to call the Orlando attack for what it was: an act of radical Islamic terrorism by an individual who was indoctrinated by the sharia teachings of an Imam who called gay people “devil worshippers.”
You can’t fight a threat unless you first identify it in no uncertain terms – despite directives by the Department of Homeland Security to the contrary. (And, contrary to what the gay left would have you believe, the attack in Orlando was not about guns – if it was, the attacker would have been yelling out, “Look what I can do because of the Second Amendment!” rather than “Allahu Akbar!” as he shot up the club’s patrons.)
But it’s not just Log Cabin Republicans calling for more vocal denouncement of radical Islam and its dangers. Moderate Muslims, who comprise the majority of those individuals practicing the faith (and whose tolerance subjects them to punishment as apostates in the eyes of the same brand of radical jihadism that inspired the Pulse shooting) have called for reform as well. A 2011 survey conducted by Pew Research Center found that 48% of Muslim Americans “felt Muslim leaders in the United States have not done enough to speak out against Islamic extremists.”
The same survey, however, also yielded some eyebrow-raising insights: 32% did not agree that they themselves were doing enough to cooperate with law enforcement, and—in the most staggering revelation—8% believed that “suicide bombing and other forms of violence against civilian targets are often justified to defend Islam from its enemies.” Single digits, but any survey of Americans in which 8% of respondents declare suicide bombing is permissible in connection with the practice and defense of one’s religion is eight percentage points too many.
Violence perpetuated by radical Islamists in the western world is not isolated to the United States, and it’s increasing, not lessening. In 2015, The Economist reported a marked increase in the incidents of such attacks: from only one in 2012 to seven in 2015. Again, the goal number here should be zero.
Standing up to religion-based bigotry has been a hallmark of Log Cabin Republicans since our founding in 1977. To date, much of our work in that sphere has focused on opposition to Christian fundamentalism and the harm it causes LGBT Americans. But there is a new creeping theocracy in the United States: radical Islam. Regardless of party affiliation, sexual orientation, or religious background, standing up in opposition to twisted interpretations of legitimate faiths isn’t just important; it’s our duty as Americans.
Gregory T. Angelo is the President of Log Cabin Republicans, the country’s premier organization representing LGBT conservatives and straight allies. Visit logcabin.org for more information or follow on Facebook and Twitter.