Here we go again.
Shahram Hadian, a tireless anti-Muslim crusader, is coming back to Idaho to spew harmful conspiracy theories about the Islamic faith. On a previous visit, he almost caused serious damage to Idaho’s child support collection system with his false claims.
During the 2015 legislative session, Hadian made the preposterous claim that passage of legislation to comply with federal child support collection rules would lead to the adoption of Islamic law by Idaho courts. Sharia law cannot be imposed and there is absolutely no effort by anyone to impose it. Nor is there any chance that our courts would adopt it.
His absurd claim caused the legislation to fail. As a result, Idaho almost lost $16 million in federal funds and the ability to collect about $28.8 million in child support from out-of-state parents. Then-Gov. Butch Otter had to call a special legislative session to repair the damage to our child support system.
Hadian travels around the country denouncing Islam as a false religion, vilifying refugees, and criticizing Pope Francis and other prominent religious leaders for their ecumenical efforts. He also peddles DVDs, books and other paraphernalia to raise funds along the way.
His main theme is that Islam is the enemy of the United States and intent on subverting it from the inside. He ignores the fact that Islam is the second-largest world religion, with about 1.8 billion adherents, and that many Muslim-majority nations have been our close allies, contributing to our national security.
Our troops have fought side-by-side with Muslim soldiers in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, combating terrorists who profess a perverted view of Islam. Many of those Muslim soldiers put themselves at risk by helping American forces, but Hadian demands that we keep them and all other Muslims from seeking refuge here from wars that we have waged.
Our state has Muslim refugees from a number of countries, including Bosnia, Iraq, Somalia, Afghanistan and Syria — people who fled for their very lives from oppressive governments and religious zealots. They have worked hard, started businesses, become good citizens and enriched our communities. We really don’t need a religious zealot to foment suspicion about, or hatred against, these good people.
When Hadian rails against Pope Francis – he accuses the pope of promoting “Chrislam,” a melding of the Christian and Islamic faiths – we might remind him of the anti-Catholic campaign against presidential candidate Al Smith in 1928. Claims of demagogues that Smith would essentially give the Pope control over our government contributed to his defeat. Such claims were also raised, but disregarded, in the 1960 presidential race won by John F. Kennedy.
Hadian might also be informed of the prejudice and religious hatred drummed up against The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints over the years. When Idaho’s Constitution was drafted in 1889, a number of provisions were adopted to prevent Mormons from taking over, or even participating in, the Idaho government. Even now there are some who continue to claim that it is not a legitimate religion.
We should also reflect on the hate and libels directed against our Jewish community through the many years. Jews have always been a favorite target of hate groups like the Ku Klux Klan. In 2010, a furniture maker in Kamiah confided to me that Jewish international bankers were taking over the world, and in August 2017 torch-wielding white nationalists in Charlottesville, Va., were ominously chanting that “Jews will not replace us.” These torch carriers were not “good people.” The good people were their targets.
This country was founded by people seeking religious freedom. It was enshrined in our Constitution. It is one reason why we have a separation of church and state – so that a single state religion cannot be imposed on the people. There is a place here for all religions, and there should be tolerance for them all, as well as their followers.
Hadian has the right to spout his false and divisive claims, but we don’t have to buy his hateful message. Idaho is better than that.