Presidential hopeful Ben Carson, who’s pulling in third in one recent poll, behind Donald Trump and Carly Fiorina, doubled down on comments he made about Muslims in the White House saying for the second time in a day: They shouldn’t serve as the country’s chief executive officer.
In an interview with the Hill, Carson said: “I do not believe Shariah is consistent with the Constitution of this country. Muslims feel that their religion is very much a part of your public life and what you do as a public official, and that’s inconsistent with our principles and our Constitution.”
He made the comments just hours after saying similarly on NBC’s “Meet the Press” with Chuck Todd, as reported by WND. During that Sunday show, Carson said he “would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation. I absolutely would not agree with that.”
When asked if a candidate’s faith should matter to voters, Carson said, “I guess it depends on what that faith is. If it’s inconsistent with the values and principles of America, then of course it should matter.” When asked if he thought Islam is consistent with the Constitution, Carson said, “No, I don’t, I do not.”
Carson also said he has “no reason to doubt” that President Obama was born in the United States and is a Christian.
Carson’s remarks sparked fury from the Council on American-Islamic Relations. Just hours after Carson’s interview with Todd, CAIR called for him to step away from his run for the presidency.
“Mr. Carson clearly does not understand or care about the Constitution, which states that ‘no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office,'” the group’s national executive director, Nihad Awad, said in a statement.
Carson campaign spokesman Doug Watts said Monday Carson will likely reach out to members of the Muslim community.
“He did not say that a Muslim should be prevented from running, or barred from running in any way,” Watts said. “He [Carson] just doesn’t believe the American people are ready for that.”
“Dr. Carson is a strict adherent to the First Amendment — freedom of religion. That includes people of all faith,” Watts said. “He has great respect for the Muslim community, but there is a huge gulf between the faith and practice of the Muslim faith, and our Constitution and American values,” he added.
Fellow Republican presidential candidate Sen. Lindsey Graham weighed in with a tweet: “@RealBenCarson is not ready to be Commander-In-Chief. America is an idea, not owned by a particular religion.”
And shortly after, he followed with a second Twitter message, calling for Carson to apologize. Lindsey wrote: “@RealBenCarson needs to apologize to American Muslims. He is a good doctor, but clearly not prepared to lead a great nation.”
Democrats, meanwhile, jumped on Carson’s comments, too.
Martin O’Malley, a former Maryland governor and presidential contender, tweeted: “American people are better than latest Trump/Carson/GOP anti-Muslim bigotry. Hate is not an American value.”
And self-declared socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders, who’s pulling second in the Democratic Party primary for president. said in a statement reported by NBC News: “I am very disappointed that Dr. Carson would suggest that a Muslim should not become president of the United States. It took us too long to overcome the prejudice against electing a Catholic or an African-American president. People should be elected to office based on their ideas, not their religion or the color of their skin.”
Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minnesota, who was the first Muslim elected to Congress, accused both Carson and Donald Trump of “fear mongering.”
“For Ben Carson, Donald Trump, or any other Republican politician to suggest that someone of any faith is unfit for office is out of touch with who we are as a people,” said Ellison.
“It’s unimaginable that the leading GOP presidential candidates are resorting to fear mongering to benefit their campaigns, and every American should be disturbed that these national figures are engaging in and tolerating blatant acts of religious bigotry,” he said in a statement issued on Sunday.
But Carson isn’t apologizing.
“House of War: Islam’s Jihad Against the World” conveys what the West needs to know about Islam and the violent, expansionary ideology that seeks the subjugation and destruction of other faiths, cultures and systems of government
To the Hill, he said the only way he’d be OK with a Muslim in the high office of the White House would be if he or she “publicly rejected all the tenants of Shariah and lived a life consistent with that.”
He also warned about the Shia Islam practice of “Taqiya,” however, where Muslims mislead nonbelievers about their faith to avoid being persecuted.
“Taqiya is a component of Shia that allows, and even encourages, you to lie to achieve your goals,” Carson said, to the Hill.
He went on: “We are a different kind of nation. Part of why we rose so quickly is because we wouldn’t allow our values or principles to be supplanted because we were going to be politically correct … part of the problem today is that we’re so busy trying to be politically correct that we lose all perspective.”
Meanwhile, Armstrong Williams, a conservative columnist and pundit who also serves as Carson’s business manager, said of the brouhaha: “This is why he’s not a politician. This is why he’s not trying to be politically correct. It is not an issue of religion to Dr. Carson. This is an issue of one’s belief system.”