Anti-sharia legislation should end

Guest Editorial
Generally speaking, the term limits voters imposed on Michigan’s governor and Legislature are obstacles to good governance. Sometimes, though, term limits aren’t so bad.

State Rep. Dave Agema (R-Grandville) is finishing his third and final term. If his fellow members of the lame-duck Legislature have good sense, they will ensure Agema’s House Bill 4769 receives last rites.

Officially dubbed the “Restriction of Application of Foreign Laws Act,” the legislation is more commonly known as the “anti-sharia law bill” Agema proposed to prevent judges from considering Muslim religious law in any case that comes before them.

Most religions have codes of conduct that guide their adherents’ behavior and beliefs. Sharia is no different.

Because some nations allow the Islamic code of conduct to be used to settle marital and personal disputes, Agema and a minority of nervous Americans are convinced Muslims are determined to impose sharia law in American courts.

“They want specific laws applied to their specific groups,” Agema told the Grand Rapids Press last year.

“They do not want to be under our law. But when you live in the U.S., you live under our laws.”

Like angry villagers in search of Frankenstein’s monster, Arizona, Kansas, Louisiana, South Dakota, Tennessee and Oklahoma enacted “anti-sharia” laws in recent years. The trouble, though, is targeting Islam raises legitimate concerns about religious freedom.

A federal appeals court overturned Oklahoma’s law in 2010 because it specifically cited sharia, something the court ruled unconstitutional.

Ever since Agema introduced his bill last year, it has languished in committee. Coming up with a new emergency manager law after voters rejected Public Act 4 last month should be one leading priority.

Figuring out how to replace personal property tax revenue before abolishing the levy is another. Fixing the state’s troubled medical marijuana law is overdue and the Legislature should pass Gov. Rick Snyder’s reforms for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.

But lame-duck legislative sessions are notoriously unpredictable. Despite these and other important priorities, Agema’s bill could end up being considered.

Agema’s future is set. He was elected in May to the Republican National Committee. Let the GOP consider his proposal, not the Legislature.