(Photo: AP Images / Sue Ogrocki)
With more than half of the vote, Oklahoma voters overwhelming approved a state amendment banning state judges from consulting Islamic law in deciding cases.
State Referendum Question 755, asking Oklahoma residents to amend Article 7 of the state’s constitution to forbid the state’s courts from using or even considering Sharia law when ruling in a legal proceeding, passed with 70 percent of the vote, aides said.
Former Republican state Rep. Rex Duncan, the referendum’s sponsor, praised the amendment’s adoption as a preemptive strike against what he calls “activist judges.”
Duncan believes American courts are increasingly consulting Sharia law to decide matters pertaining to the U.S. Muslim community. The newly elect district attorney calls this practice “grossly inappropriate.”
“I think the benefit of this referendum will be felt in other states drowning in liberal judges,” said Duncan.
Fordham University Law Professor Jim Cohen told ABC News that he believed the state is overstepping its bounds.
“Our federal system and our state system [are] in part governed by the concept of separation of powers. It’s far from clear that the Oklahoma legislature can restrict what a separate branch of government can consider in terms of doing its job,” he said.
He told ABC that references to Sharia law in legal matters are “rare.”
Others fear that even the slightest reliance on Islamic law may open the door for the Sharia courts and practice in America.
Paul Estabrooks, senior communication specialist of Christian persecution watchdog group Open Doors, agrees that Sharia law, once introduced, will eventually lead to human right challenges.
“It’s kind of the old adage that once the camel gets his head in the tent, it won’t be long before he’s all in there. A lot of people fear that,” he said.
Estabrooks pointed out that Sharia allows for the disproportionate treatment of women and religious persecution.
“One of the implications of Sharia law is that when someone leaves the faith of Islam, they become apostate and that’s punishable by death under Sharia law,” he stated.
Dr. Bill Wagner, author of How Islam Plans to Change the World, says Sharia, meaning path or way to the waterhole in the desert, is seen by devoted Muslims as a utopian way of life.
“Devoted Muslims feel that it is their duty to live under this system. They are allowed to live under other systems if they are in a minority. But [they] must try to institute Sharia for themselves as soon as possible,” explained Wagner.
Still, both Wagner and Estabrooks believe the amendment is premature.
“In Oklahoma there is no danger of an attempt to bring in Sharia Law for the next few years, but I feel that once the Muslims get a majority in some areas it will become a major issue,” said Wagner.
If Sharia does become a major issue, Wagner says, Christians must be prepared to take a stand.