At WorldNetDaily’s Take Back America 2010 conference in Miami this weekend, ThinkProgress spoke to William Murray, the chairman of a group organizing protests against the proposed Park51 community center in lower Manhattan. Murray recently ran an advertisement against building mosques in America.
During our interview, Murray noted that Frank Gaffney, a well-funded anti-Muslim activist, actually provided Newt Gingrich with the idea for Republicans to ban sharia law in the United States. Asked why some Republican leaders, like Mitt Romney, have been relatively quiet on his crusade against Park51, Murray suggested that Romney might reveal “similarities between Islam and Mormonism” if he became vocal. He added that such a connection would be “false logic”:
MURRAY: I don’t know with the case with Mitt Romney. It could be because of some similarities between Islam and Mormonism, to be very frank with you, and his fear that any criticism of Islam, that those arguments could then be construed or used against Mormonism. I think that is some false logic. Also there is the issue of Mitt Romney being purely an economic conservative, not a social conservative.
Murray echoed his broadside against “economic conservatives” in his remarks to the WND audience. At one point, he attacked Grover Norquist for opposing the recent right-wing effort to demagogue against Muslims. Murray even assailed Norquist for supporting gay conservatives and for “marrying a Muslim woman.” Listen here:
Murray, who meets regularly with Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) and Rep. Joe Pitts (R-PA) through the “Values Action Team” caucuses in Congress and maintains his own influential political action committee, has long opposed the libertarian wing of the conservative movement. Murray’s ally Frank Gaffney staged a high profile attempt to purge Norquist from the movement several years ago.
Later during the interview, Murray noted that openly criticizing Islam was difficult during the Bush-era because Bush had said Islam is a “religion of peace.” With Bush choosing to remain silent on the issue, Murray and his cohorts are on the rise within the conservative movement.