“The Informed Leader” pledge

Candidates for public office — from U.S. president to municipal office — are being asked, by the Family Leader organization, to sign “The Marriage Vow,” which includes opposition to same-sex marriage, “quickie divorce,” and “intrusively intimate commingling” in military showers. To date, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) and former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) have signed.

The pledge has drawn severe criticism from many quarters, since it was unveiled on July 7, and some clauses have already been removed (without apology). Language remains, however, of great concern to interfaith activists and to all interested in protecting religious pluralism in the United States:

  • “Faithful monogamy” is identified as a concept “conveyed by Jewish and Christian scripture,” while no other religion is recognized as promoting marriage.
  • A concocted religious category of “Sharia Islam” is to be rejected, while actual Islam, its moral “path” [shariah] and its laws [fiqh] are nowhere mentioned. “Sharia Islam” is defined — through rambling reference to a variety of coined terms, such as “demographic jihad,” devoid of Muslim citation — as an “anti-woman, anti-human rights” form of “totalitarian control.” A footnote explains that signers “do not oppose peaceful Muslims,” but there is no word on “peaceful Muslim” marriage.

Seeking Informed Leadership

Justin Elliott of Salon interviewed Bob Vander Plaats, founder of The Family Leader. Vander Plaats introduced his pronouncements with a brief disclaimer:

“Well, Sharia Islam — and I’m not an expert on Sharia Islam — but I think just in the brief knowledge [I have]…”

He goes on to declare that this system about which he is not expert is a “threat to our culture” and that “there’s a lot of American Muslims who reject Sharia.”

Like everyone else in the U.S., Muslims and people of Muslim descent are free to choose whether and how to follow “the path” of their religious community. But it is a logical absurdity to separate Islam from its ethical teachings (shariah [“well trodden path; path to the well that never runs dry”]) — based on the Qur’an and the life of the Prophet Mohammed (the Sunnah) — and from its laws of day-to-day living (fiqh [jurisprudence]). And it is dangerous to follow leaders who either don’t know better or choose, anyway, to affirm such absurdities.

The Family Leader asks “civic, religious, lay, business, and social leaders” to vow support for only those candidates who have signed “Marriage Vow” pledge. CBB calls on all concerned to inform themselves before pledging anything.

CBB offers basic resources for understanding Islam and concepts such as shariah. Interfaith activists and all concerned about religious pluralism in the U.S. are encouraged to share these resources widely and to offer their own, as we work together to foster informed leadership.

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