SB 1028 protects our freedoms

SB 1028 protects our freedoms

[Note: This article was on The Tennessean website, but is 'no longer available.  Wonder why?]

As a retired veteran with 34 total years serving the Department of Defense, I have devoted my life to the principles of this country and protecting us from terrorism. I was active-duty U.S. Air Force 1975-97 and, following my retirement from active duty, I became a Defense Department civilian and retired as a senior intelligence officer.

After reading the recent Tennessean article, “Muslims rally at Tennessee Capitol to protest legislation” (April 20), I was struck by the blatant bias against the proposed SB 1028.

The article quoted opponents of the bill characterizing its supporters as “a few individuals in a state of panic,” “witch-hunting Muslims.” The opponents attempted to link them to “hate groups” and compared the situation to the KKK.
At the same time, the report characterized Shariah law as the “basic set of Muslim religious laws,” and quoted bill opponents as calling Shariah “a way of life,” something to fight for by families and educated people; and supported by “proud” Tennesseans who want their state “to be a shining image.”

This is indicative of the one-sided reporting in this country today. Twenty years ago, this article would have appeared on the editorial page. But today, stories are spun to meet the desires and view of their paper. A critical review suggests the author is completely ignorant of Shariah law and more interested in the human angle than the probability that SB 1028 could, in fact, protect his rights to freedom of the press.

We Americans have had the extreme honor of living in a society that believes and fights for freedom of religion and the individual’s right to pursue their own faith or lack of the same. Because of our immersion in this freedom, we are unable to fully comprehend a belief system which, on one hand, talks of peace and tolerance while at the same time holds primary doctrinal teachings encouraging believers to deceive unbelievers, cheat and lie to them, and kill them if they will not convert.

We cannot understand a system that denies others their freedom, which demands the death of those who leave the approved religion, and not only puts their theoretical teachings into actual applicable laws, but also regulates all manner of behavior in the secular world to include economic, military, legal, social and political arenas.

This belief system, then, extends well beyond a religious belief to being a comprehensive legal and political framework, all encompassing of an individual’s life. There is no such thing as a separate secular authority or secular law under Shariah. Islam and Shariah law are introduced under the protection of religious freedom; however, the rules and laws go well beyond spiritual requirements. That is our problem in a nutshell. The overstepping of religious boundaries is incompatible with American ideals and values, especially when they begin to force changes in our Constitution or our justice system.

As Tennessee citizens, we have an inherent benefit from keeping terrorist organizations of any creed, color, ideology or belief out of our communities. We have no desire to keep Muslim men and women from worshipping and believing in the manner they choose. However, if the beliefs that they are commanded to act on violate the Constitution, then at that point we cannot support them and must defend our rights. This is true whether it is Islam or any group. When their religious beliefs begin to infringe upon the safety of others or when their religious beliefs demand that they violate the laws of our land, then we must draw the line.

SB 1028 is written to protect Tennessee’s citizens from terrorist attacks before they occur. It does not violate the right to religious freedom. SB 1028 not only protects all citizens’ right to religious freedom, but all the other rights granted by our Constitution, as well.

John “Wes’’ Campbell is the former senior intelligence officer of national security at the Arnold Engineering Development Center in Tullahoma