Newsletter #37 – TN Attorney General opinion and AMAC

TN Attorney General Opinion 12-29 (March 2, 2012), answers the question of whether it is “constitutionally defensible” for the TN Department of Homeland Security to NOT enter into “partnership or contractual agreements” with religious or political nonprofit organizations, including any affiliated organizations.    The short answer – the state of Tennessee can and should exclude these groups.

As stated in the AG Opinion, the rationale is simple –  “The Establishment Clause [of the 1st Amendment] prevents the government from promoting any religious doctrine or organization or affiliating itself with one.”

The State is supposed to be neutral when it comes to the matter of religion.

The AG Opinion goes on to conclude that “On its face, this exclusion does not appear to be based upon any hostility toward religion, but rather can be characterized as an attempt to avoid an excessive entanglement or improper affiliation with religion.”

The TN American Muslim Advisory Council (AMAC), is an organization designed to promote the religion of Islam:

-the organization’s very name self-describes a religious orientation; only adherents to the religion of Islam can be labeled “Muslim”

-the content of the training provided by AMAC is grounded in and derived from religious doctrine but misrepresented as “culture”

-the AMAC’s most recent announcement about their Islamic Speakers Bureau states that they present information about “their faith as a means of promoting religious literacy”

The TN American Muslim Advisory Council (AMAC) is a political organization and/or affiliated with a political organization:

-four AMAC members established and sit as the governing board of their alter ego organization, the American Center for Outreach (ACO)

-another AMAC member serves as a Fellow with the ACO

-the ACO’s Director lobbies the TN General Assembly

-the ACO and AMAC issue joint press statements commenting on pending legislation and other community political activities

Either way you cut it, the TN Department of Homeland Security cannot partner with the AMAC.

For that matter, neither can nor should any other state or local governmental entity.

The very law that Commissioner Gibbons brought to the legislature and testified in support of, (and as opined by the state Attorney General), bars his Department from partnering with AMAC.

But if the Governor’s administration won’t follow the law, why should anyone else?