Yesterday, GOP presidential primary candidate Herman Cain gave a wide-ranging interview to Christianity Today. Cain discussed a variety of issues, mostly focusing on how the evangelical right influences politics in the Republican Party.
At one point, Christianity Today reminded Cain about an incident where he was a “little uncomfortable” finding out that his cancer surgeon’s name was Abdallah until he “found out he was a Lebanese Christian.” The magazine followed up by asking, “So what’s your perspective on the role of Muslims in American society?” Cain responded by saying that, while he thinks that Muslims do have a right to practice their religion in America, he resents when they try to convert Americans because their religion instructs them to convert all “infidels” or kill them:
CT:When speaking about your battle with cancer at the Milner church, at one point, you indicate that you were a little uncomfortable when you found out that your surgeon’s name was Abdallah, until you found out he was a Lebanese Christian. So what’s your perspective on the role of Muslims in American society?
CAIN: The role of Muslims in American society is for them to be allowed to practice their religion freely, which is part of our First Amendment. The role of Muslims in America is not to convert the rest of us to the Muslim religion. That I resent. And so I push back and reject them trying to convert the rest of us. And based upon the little knowledge that I have of the Muslim religion, you know, they have an objective to convert all infidels or kill them.
Cain’s tone-deaf attitude to bigotry is unfortunately nothing new. The candidate and conservative icon recently recounted a story to The Daily Caller’s Matt Lewis where, when he was young, his mother warned his brother and him to only drink from the water fountain reserved for African Americans, a vestige of white racism. Lewis asked Cain what he learned from that experience, and Cain said, “We looked at each other and said, the water tastes the same! What’s the big deal?”
Matt Lewis argues that Cain recounted the story because he wanted to express the absurdity of segregation.