John Fea points
to a symposium on Denise Spellberg’s Thomas Jefferson’s Qur’an: Islam and the Founders
taking place at the Immanent Frame
A number of years ago, a co-author and I tackled this issue which you can view here
Founders often used the term "religion" and when they did it's a
mistake to conclude they meant "Christianity" to the exclusion of other
religions like Islam. So if "religion" is granted rights and has
restrictions placed on it, such applies to "religion" in general. Islam
as a religion therefore gets equally protected under such principles as
any form of Christianity.
Below is a quote from one of the authors at the Immanent Frame:
Today we often refer to “Judeo-Christian civilization”
but, as Spellberg points out, this term excludes Muslims from that
shared history. Spellberg’s book reminds us of the strong tradition of
tolerance in the United States, but also of how it is easy to fall short
of that goal. . . .
This is true. However, the actual history including both laws and social
institutions is a bit more complicated. Yes, there was a remarkable
degree of theoretical liberality and ecumenicism that saw Islam being
given equal rights under the auspices of protecting "religion." Judaism
and all of the various forms of Christianity, orthodox, unorthodox,
whatever we might debate qualifies as "real Christianity" were
with Islam, "religions."
also at the state level different ways of dealing with religion that
varied by state. Roman Catholics, for instance, might have their full
religious rights in one state, but not another.
there was some kind of institutional zeitgeist, it was a preference for
social Protestant Christianity as the "in" group. All others -- Roman
Catholics, Jews, Muslims -- in the "out" group.
instance, militant unitarians John Adams and Thomas Jefferson as
formally and nominally connected to respectively the Congregational
(Adams) and Anglican-Episcopal (Jefferson) Churches received cover under
the auspices of Protestant Christianity's privileged social standing,
along with those who actually devoutly believed in the orthodox creeds
and doctrines to which those churches were grounded.