North Carolina has become the seventh state to prohibit state judges from considering Islamic law in family cases, joining what critics say is a national anti-Muslim campaign.
Gov. Pat McCrory allowed the law, which was passed by state lawmakers in July, to take effect without his signature.
In an interview with The Associated Press, McCrory said the measure doesn't do anything. "I didn't think it was worth the time to pass, nor do I think it's worth the time to have someone come back and vote on it again," he said.
North Carolina now joins Arizona, Kansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Tennessee, according to Religion News Service, in banning Islamic Sharia law. A constitutional amendment seeking the same change in Alabama will be on the 2014 ballot. In Missouri, the governor vetoed an anti-Sharia bill because of its potential impact on international adoptions.
But the law in Oklahoma was struck down in court as unconstitutional, according to the Progressive Pulse, because it discriminated among religions without justification.
North Carolina lawmakers tried to avoid that problem by not mentioning Sharia in the legislation but instead banning enforcement of all foreign laws.
Supporters hailed the bill as an important safeguard that protects the American legal system from foreign laws that are incompatible with the U.S. Constitution, RNS reported, while critics argued the Constitution already overrides foreign laws.
“(The legislation is) primarily designed to stir up anti-Islamic prejudice by creating fears that Islamic Sharia law is somehow going to take over the American legal system,” Carl Ernst, a religious studies professor at the University of North Carolina, told the Daily Tarheel.
The BizPac Review reported that supporters of legislation blocking enforcement of Islamic law in state courts aren't targeting religion.
"No one has a problem with Muslims or anyone else living peaceably in America,” the Rev. Mark Creech said in an article published on the Christian Action League website. “But on U.S. soil, we must all embrace the freedoms and responsibilities assigned us via the Constitution, and not demand enforcement of rules and regulations left behind in other cultures.”
In a primer on Sharia law and efforts to ban it in the United States, Religion News Service explained many Americans view the Islamic legal system as intolerant and overly harsh in punishment.
"Many Muslim Americans counter that Shariah is essential to belief, and that any harsh punishments or unconstitutional aspects associated with Islamic law have either been exaggerated, abrogated or are superseded by American law."
Dozens of anti-Sharia law bills have been proposed in roughly 30 states in the last few years, RNS reported, and Muslim Americans expect many more bills in the years to come.