The American Family Association's Bryan Fischer has written a blog post claiming that the First Amendment never intended to extend its protections to those of faith other than Christianity. More specifically, Fischer argues that the Founders were trying to protect the citizens from Islam's “treasonous ideology.”
Lest anyone think this is the ravings of some kook who can just be ignored, Fischer has hosted a number of Republican presidential hopefuls on his radio show, including Mike Huckabee, Michelle Bachmann, and Tim Pawlenty.
Notably, Fischer does not actually quote the First Amendment in his post. The closest he comes is saying “The First Amendment was written by the Founders to protect the free exercise of Christianity.” In fact, the First Amendment's religion clauses actually say: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” If the Founders really wanted to protect the free exercise of Christianity, why didn't they simply write: “Congress shall make no law prohibiting the free exercise of the Christian religion?”
Were they just lazy? Wanted to save on ink by not adding the word “Christian” ?
Fischer also gets his history dead wrong. He makes note of the fact that soon after its founding, the nation was at war with the Barbary pirates who were Muslims. But Fischer ignores the fact that the war ended with a treaty specifically saying that the United States “is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion.”
From Fischer's post:
The First Amendment was written by the Founders to protect the free exercise of Christianity. They were making no effort to give special protections to Islam. Quite the contrary. We actually at the time were dealing with our first encounters with jihad in the form of the Barbary Pirates, which is why Jefferson bought a copy of the Koran. He was told by the Bey of Tripoli that Islam requires Muslims to rob, kill and pillage infidel Christians wherever they find them. Jefferson naturally found that hard to believe, so he bought a copy of the Koran to read it for himself. Sure enough, it's right in there, in the 109 verses of the Koran that call for violence against the infidels.
Islam has no fundamental First Amendment claims, for the simple reason that it was not written to protect the religion of Islam. Islam is entitled only to the religious liberty we extend to it out of courtesy. While there certainly ought to be a presumption of religious liberty for non-Christian religious traditions in America, the Founders were not writing a suicide pact when they wrote the First Amendment.
Our government has no obligation to allow a treasonous ideology to receive special protections in America, but this is exactly what the Democrats are trying to do right now with Islam.
From a constitutional point of view, Muslims have no First Amendment right to build mosques in America.
From the Treaty of Tripoli, which ended the conflict with the Barbary pirates:
Treaty of Tripoli, Article 11:
As the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion,-as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquility of Musselmen,-and as the said States never have entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mehomitan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.