Is it possible for a "good Muslim" to also be a "good president" of the United States of America?
Advertisement - story continues below
Ben Carson doesn't think so, but the question divides the Republican Party along familiar lines – those preferring a more establishment candidate and those looking for an outsider.
While some fellow GOP candidates such as Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and Carly Fiorina have criticized Carson for saying he could not support a Muslim as president, an influential Iowa congressman sees it differently.
Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa – whose opinions carry weight in the Iowa GOP primary – said the comments would likely help Carson in his state.
"I wouldn’t expect those remarks would hurt Dr. Carson in Iowa. I think they help him," King told the the Washington Post. "The people on our side who pay any attention to this at all understand Shariah is incompatible with the Constitution and that a sincerely devout Muslim – I might say, a devout Islamist — cannot seriously give an oath to support the Constitution, because it's incompatible with his faith."
Advertisement - story continues below
Carson himself said Wednesday the flow of donations into his campaign coffers has accelerated since his controversial comment on NBC's "Meet the Press" Sunday with Chuck Todd.
"I mean, the money's been coming in so fast, it's hard to even keep up with," Carson said on "Fox and Friends." "I remember the day of the last debate, within 24 hours we had raised a million dollars, and it's coming in at least at that rate, if not quite a bit faster."
The super PAC supporting Carson's bid for the White House reported a surge in donations since his remarks Sunday, the Washington Times reported.
"We sent out an email to Carson supporters, and we’ve never had an email raise so much money so quickly — it’s unbelievable," John Philip Sousa IV, who chairs the 2016 Committee super PAC, told the Times. "My phone has exploded over the last 48 hours – of people wanting me to pass on to Dr. Carson how much they respect his truthfulness and believe in the American system, and how absolutely not should anyone who believes in Shariah law come close to the White House. The people are on Dr. Carson's side on this one – sorry, NBC, you lose."
Carson said on "Meet the Press" that he believed Islam was inconsistent with the U.S. Constitution.
Advertisement - story continues below
NBC's Chuck Todd asked Carson, "Do you believe Islam is consistent with the Constitution?"
"No, I do not," Carson responded. "I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation. I absolutely would not agree with that."
Watch Dr. Ben Carson defend his position on Islam in an interview with Sean Hannity:
Advertisement - story continues below
Carson dismissed criticism from his fellow Republican presidential candidates Monday in a Facebook post.
"Those Republicans that take issue with my position are amazing," he wrote. "Under Islamic law, homosexuals – men and women alike – must be killed. Women must be subservient. And people following other religions must be killed. I know that there are many peaceful Muslims who do not adhere to these beliefs. But until these tenants are fully renounced … I cannot advocate any Muslim candidate for president."
According to a June 2015 Gallup poll, 38 percent of Americans said they could not support a Muslim for president. Only atheists (40 percent) and socialists (50 percent) fared worse in the poll.
A spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR, called on Carson to withdraw from the race, saying his comments were "a disqualifier ... for the nation's highest office."
CAIR should immediately be stripped of its nonprofit status for taking sides in the political debate, said Dr. Mark Christian, a physician and former Muslim imam who converted to Christianity and emigrated from Egypt to America.
"CAIR is all over the place speaking against Ben Carson," Christian, founder of the Global Faith Institute in Omaha, Nebraska, told WND. "Ben Carson says he can't support a Muslim in the White House. For those who are upset by this, please tell me which of the current Muslim leaders in the Muslim world you would elect to be president here in the great land of America?"
Christian also points out that CAIR's history of involvement in terrorism disqualifies it as a credible source. It was an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation terrorism financing trial in 2007, and more than a dozen of its leaders have either been convicted or investigated for involvement in terrorist activity.
The following is a rundown of what others are saying about Carson's comments:
Carly Fiorina, the former Hewlett Packard CEO and GOP presidential hopeful, said Carson was "wrong" to suggest that a Muslim should not be president of the United States.
"I think that’s wrong," Fiorina told ABC's "Tonight Show" host Jimmy Fallon. "You know, it says in our Constitution that religion cannot be a test for office. It is also true that this country was founded on the principle that we judge each individual and that anyone, of any faith, is welcome here."
Fiorina added that she believed strong faith, regardless of what that faith is, makes for "better leaders," according to ABC News.
"I battled cancer, I've lost a child. I've been tested," she said. "But whether it's a person of Christian faith or Jewish faith or Muslim faith, or other faiths, I think faith gives us humility and empathy and optimism and I think those are important things."
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., told CNN's Wolf Blitzer it's important to separate what you believe personally and what the Constitution says, but he took issue with those who are bashing Carson.
"I think there's an honest question that voters would have. I do think there would be some questions to ask. Do you believe a woman should be stoned to death for committing adultery? Do you believe someone convicted of stealing should have their hand cut off? For adultery a woman's testimony counts half as much as men (under Shariah). Sure, if they support the things that made America great, constitutional principles, the Bill of Rights, but some of those are inconsistent with the interpretation of the Quran that's being put forward particularly by some folks.
"This is a big deal because we've made this really simple that ol' Ben Carson is terrible because he said this but think about what he's saying. In England, for example, 20 percent of the Islamic public thought the bombings of the subway were OK. So these are important questions to ask if you have someone who is Muslim running for office: Do you think violence is OK? Do you think Shariah should be the law of the land? Do you think the 9/11 attacks were OK?"
Rep. Andre Carson, D-Ind., one of two Muslim members of Congress: "Saying a Muslim shouldn’t be elected president is as off as saying we should not elect a neurosurgeon as president. The freedom of religion we have in this country is a founding principle of our great nation, so for any candidate to suggest that someone should not be elected president because of what he or she may believe is nothing short of religious bigotry."
Dr. Mark Christian, a former imam who grew up in a Muslim Brotherhood family in Egypt and had memorized two-thirds of the Quran by the time he was 13, told WND that Carson "is the most knowledgeable of all the candidates I've seen on this issue."
"He said the Muslim who renounced his affiliation with Shariah he could vote for, but this is going to be a heretic and someone who is anathema to Islam," Christian said. "This is why I like the guy; he is just right on the mark. Is Islam compatible with America's Constitution? No. One-hundred percent, no, and he is right about that, because Islam is not a religion but a political movement, and it has its beliefs summed up in Shariah, which rejects any kind of man-made law to be superior to Allah's law. Jesus said, 'Give to Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what is God's.' He separated the two. Everything in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights is 100 percent from Judeo-Christian values."
For example, the First Amendment.
"Does Islam preach freedom of speech? 100 percent no," Christian said. "They have 'blasphemy' laws that negate free speech. And you go down the list, everything that the Constitution talks about, that every person is created free and equal, and everything the Bill of Rights talks about is completely opposite of what Islam teaches. Inequality between a man and a woman, Muslims and non-Muslims, the genocide of Jews and Christians."
What about homosexuals?
"The argument within Islam is not whether homosexuals should be married, the argument among Muslim scholars is whether they should be killed by throwing them off a building or by having their heads cut off," Christian said. "Under Shariah, a male heir is to receive double the inheritance of a woman. If you say you give the inheritance equally, then you are resisting the Quran, and you are not a Muslim. The Muslim who is willing to renounce the killing of the Jews and renounce inequality between men and women, and renounce the domestic violence that is in the Quran and to renounce that Shariah is superior to man-made law, then that Muslim is equipped to be president of America, but then he is no longer a Muslim."
Hillary Clinton: The Democratic front-runner for president tweeted: "Can a Muslim be president of the United States of America? In a word, yes. Now, let's move on."
Donald Trump: "Some say it already happened, frankly, but of course you wouldn't agree with that," he told NBC's "Meet the Press."
"You know, Ben was saying there are difficulties," the real-estate mogul told Fox host Greta Van Susteren. "And I think everybody knows what those difficulties are. People want to be politically correct, but there have been difficulties. And a lot of people agree with Ben.
"You do have a problem with the radical Muslims and the whole thing that’s going on around the world.
"And, you know, a lot of people don’t what to hear about it. They think it's not politically correct to say whatever you want to say about it, but the problem exists so we have to talk about it."
Alveda King, a pro-life civil rights activist and Fox News contributor who is the niece of the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., told WND that Carson is "spot on" with his comments about a Muslim president.
"Dr. Carson is a brilliant and compassionate, God-fearing man. It is reasonable to consider his concerns for the difficulties a president would encounter if faced with having one worldview and being expected to lead a nation whose roots and foundations are firmly grounded in another," King said.
She said Acts 17:26 proves, and science agrees, that people are all of "one blood."
"Surely one day God's love will conquer all. Yet, today, there are ethnic and religious challenges that have yet to be overcome. That day is ahead of us, yet possibly not likely to be accomplished in our lifetime."
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.: "I don’t believe anyone should be disqualified from the presidency because of their denomination and because of their faith," the GOP presidential hopeful told host Sean Hannity on Fox News. "I believe in that strongly as a country."
"Now, I personally also believe if someone believes in Shariah law, they’re not going to get elected to anything, much less the presidency," Rubio added. "That’s just a fact."
"Whether you’re a Muslim or a Catholic or anything, if you have radical views and values you're not going to get elected in this country — at least, I would hope."
Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev.: "Shameful intolerance and bigotry should have no place here," the Democrat leader said of Carson's statement. "Disgusting remarks."
Gov. Bobby Jindal: "This is a dumb game that the press is playing," the GOP presidential candidate said in a statement to the Hill. "If you can find me a Muslim candidate who is a Republican, who will fight hard to protect religious liberty, who will respect the Judeo-Christian heritage of America, who will be committed to destroying ISIS and radical Islam, who will condemn cultures that treat women as second-class citizens and who will place their hand on the Bible and swear to uphold the Constitution, then yes, I will be happy to consider voting for him or her."
"If you can't, I'll settle for voting for a Christian governor from Louisiana," Jindal added.
David Horowitz: "Should a Muslim be president? No one has yet asked the President (Obama) for his opinion, although there’s little doubt what he would say," said Horowitz, an activist, author and founder of the David Horowitz Freedom Center in an email Wednesday. "But Ben Carson raised a legitimate question that goes to the heart of the threat we face.
"Shariah law is incompatible with the U.S. Constitution — to which, thank God, a president must still, even in these days of a 'radical transformation of America,' swear an oath of allegiance."
Shariah is not just an ethical guide and record of antique religious history, Horowitz said.
Rather, it is a prescription for every facet of a Muslim's life, including how he views and treats the non-Muslims around him or her.
"It's a living social, political and cultural law that provides its adherents with scriptural justifications for violence against women, homicidal bias against gays, hostility toward infidels and the hunting down of Jews," Horowitz said.