In recent times, due to the many arrests of American Moslems committing fraud, money laundering, tax evasion, and other crimes, there has been a lot of ballyhooing regarding the interaction of Islam and our rule of law. Still riding the nationalistic fervor of 9-11, these xenophobes attack the entire Moslem community for something which is not exclusive to Islam. It is an overall attitude into which fundamental religionists are raised. I know. I was raised around it, too.
See, the problem with the Moslem community is not that they are Moslem or that they originate from a different continent or culture. One does not have to arrive at our shores from New Fuckistan in order to possess the same sort of problems that we see with many Moslem communities in various nations around the globe. We have enough Christian, Mormon, and Jewish Americans, born and raised right here in the Good Ole US of A that exhibit that same type of casual indifference, if not even outright hostility, toward the established rule of law, who will flaunt the law when it suits their religious or political ends. Yet, in either case, the religionist feels that if his god sanctions or doesn’t explicitly forbid a particular act, one can look the other way if it conflicts with secular law.
(Examples: Honor killings of disobedient daughters, polygamy, the murder of physicians who perform abortions, election fraud, and lying to federal regulators in order to get more federal tax dollars for their institutions.)
Not everyone who isn’t religious is free from this particular sin either. Average people tend to disregard laws they feel are immoral or just plain impractical. For example, most of us have smoked marijuana or used another person’s prescription medication knowing full well that it was illegal, realizing those laws are misguided for various reasons. Some of us might even make repairs on our homes without consulting or getting the approval of city inspectors. Many others might boost their tax deductions a little more than they should to get a larger refund. That is normal, expected behavior. Some will go to
However, once we add religion into this mix, over and above the possible personal dislike for certain statutes, we have a person who is no longer acting on his own for his own earthly purposes, but now he is doing it for the ‘lord’, and this act, even if punishable on Earth, will receive an ultimate reward in the hereafter. A religious person believes that God's law is the ultimate authority on all issues governing behaviors and interaction. Orthodox Jews and Moslems alike prefer to settle their differences via own internal legal systems rather than go through secular courts. Like the Hebrew National hot dog they "Answer to a Higher Authority". Essentially, this belief fosters and attitude of non-compliance and even, in some cases, a complete rejection of civil codes and statutes. They aren't just common criminals, they are, what I call, 'Anarchists for God'. They see our laws as inferior to their own religious views and doctrines and, though not always contrary, still of the ‘lesser’ variety.
In addition, consider that our fundamental religionist may also believe that those of other faiths are not ‘saved’ or possessed by ‘evil’. We become, in their eyes, as second-class, misguided children, spiritual inferiors, or, at worst rebellious infidels. Judaism and Islam both possess two sets of rules for believers and non-believers with the ultimate goal of having everyone come to believe in some way. The infidel’s law, the mental product of infidel society, is to be ignored and that obfuscation is justified by this religious double standard. In their minds, the infidels and gentiles enact laws to protect themselves and each other and, to the devout fundamentalist, acting within the infidel's legal boundaries means that he is now enabling a system that his god most likely abhors. Non-believers are also imagined to be hostile to religionists. Using the secular system also allows the infidels and gentiles a view into their religious world; a world they would rather leave closed off to prying outside eyes whenever possible.
This is not to say that members of a religious community who commit criminal acts do so solely because of their faith. That is far from true. Criminals are criminals and the religious criminals use the religion and cultural differences as a shield from apprehension or capture. Still, if they can justify their act through the religion, it gives them the added comfort of not having the gods upset with their actions. Co-religionists as well, might turn a blind eye to such criminality because it would draw undue attention to the community and blacken their reputation among neighbors. Yet still, this attitude of superiority and a sense of being ‘above the human law’ contribute to that disregard.
Secular-Atheist types like me might not follow the absolute letter of the law either, but we also don't harbor any fantasies concerning divine systems of absolute morality and eternal justice emanating from some invisible, intangible higher power with dreams that it supersedes or supplants the established, secular legal system. I have no delusions of mankind authoring a perfect legal or political system that everyone can follow without hesitation, but at least the secular outlook avoids the absolute moral constructs and, therefore, can remove from the law outmoded, impractical considerations. We don’t claim perfection, but we can, when our system works best, strive for the next best thing.