Tuesday, December 13, 2016


Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, U. S. Army (ret.) was an adviser to candidate Donald J. Trump and remains an adviser to the President-Elect.  Interviewed Business Insider in July 2016, Flynn said, "Islam is a political ideology based on a religion."

In 2010, residents opposed to the construction of a mosque in Murfreesboro, Tennessee made a similar claim.  Joe Brandon Jr., an attorney for mosque opponents, tried to argue that First Amendment guarantees of freedom of religion, like the freedom to build a house of worship, should not extend to Muslims because Islam is not a religion.

In the 2010 court case over the mosque, the United States Department of Justice submitted an amicus curiae (friend of the court) brief asserting that Islam is a religion.  In an October 18, 2010 press conference, U. S. Attorney Jerry Martin remarked, "Presidents as far back as Lincoln and Jefferson...have publicly recognized Islam as one of the world's largest religions."

In her 2013 book, Thomas Jefferson's Qur'an: Islam and the Founders, Denise A. Spellberg proposed that USA Founders like Thomas Jefferson and George Washington "defended Muslim rights for the sake of 'imagined Muslims,' the promotion of whose theoretical citizenship would prove the true universality of American rights."

In 2010, Brandon answered such claims by saying, "The federal government cited Thomas Jefferson in their press conference, and he owned slaves.  Is that who they want to cite as an authority?" While Jefferson did not free his slaves, Washington did leave instructions in his will for the eventual liberation of all his slaves, and offering immediate liberation to William Lee for his "faithful service" throughout the American War of Independence.  Whatever their foibles, Jefferson and Washington are authorities on religious liberty and what we might call American ideals.

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