Despite that Obama’s home state of Illinois has no official state councils to represent any other religion, the Land of Lincoln has decided to launch an official, government approved council to guide state officials on how to handle Islam.
According to the Chicago Tribune, the advisory council would be staffed by a joint effort by the legislature and the governor.
The 21-member council, whose volunteer members would be appointed by the governor as well as leaders in the House and Senate, would advise the governor and General Assembly on issues affecting Muslim Americans and immigrants, including relations between Illinois and Muslim-majority countries. Through monthly meetings and two public hearings per year, members also would serve as liaisons between state agencies and communities across Illinois.
The Democrat who introduced the bill said she intended to “encourage” Muslims to become more involved in state government.
“We need to encourage our Muslim Americans to be civially engaged and participate,” Sen. Jacqueline Collins, D-Chicago said. “If you don’t participate, the fringe elements establish the policy.”
But some wonder if the establishment of a government religious council is a violation of the U.S. Constitution’s Establishment Clause.
As Bruce Cornibe of the website CounterJihad.com asks:
This special status for a religious group is surprising in a country that bars an official state religion. In the legislation it states, “Muslims are the third largest religious group in the State of Illinois after Roman Catholics and independent Evangelical Christians.” Yet there are no special advisory councils for those other religious groups.
What might be more worrisome about such a council is the fact that in many cases the most active Muslim groups are more radical than the average American Muslim. The most infamous American Muslim group is the Council on American/Islamic Relations (CAIR), a group so radical that it was pegged as a supporter of terrorism by the United States government and was an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land trial that found widespread financial support of foreign terrorist organizations by Muslim organizations inside the U.S.
The bill is on Republican governor Bruce Rauner’s desk and many expect him to sign it.
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