Asra Q. Nomani, in a USA Today op–ed piece (End gender apartheid in U.S. Mosques, July 11, 2011) calls upon U.S. Moslem women to use the U.S. court system (and the threat of losing religious tax-exemptions) to force mosques to end gender discrimination. This is nonsense.
Gender discrimination in Islam, Orthodox Judaism, Roman Catholicism, Orthodox Christianity, and certain Protestant Christianities is not a matter of policy but divine revelation. For the courts to go against the perceived will of God is anathema to the separation of Church and State. Even those who deny there is a separation of Church and State would suddenly discover it if the State went after religion in this way.
This is not a civil rights issue, as Ms. Nomani claims. Discrimination against women (and others) in religion is not unconstitutional. Secular authorities have no right to say what is and what is not Divine Law. Only you do.
If you don’t like the teachings of your faith, join another, or create your own. It is that simple. If you believe that your religion misrepresents the word of God, why stay within it?
If Ms. Nomani doesn’t want to pray in the basement of her mosque, she should start her own mosque. This is the kind of Islamic radicalism Islam needs: free people creating free mosques; American Muslims creating American mosques that celebrate American values in a Muslim frame, and Muslim values in an American frame.
Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan, the founder of Reconstructionism Judaism, called this living in two civilizations. He sought to blend the best of Judaism with the best of America, and created his own denomination in the process. And part of his impetus was the synagogue’s discrimination against Jewish women. Ms. Nomani can and should do the same.