To rise above the myriad of GOP presidential candidates, pizza mogul Herman Cain is standing firmly on his anti-Muslim platform. Taking advantage of the Islamophobic atmosphere, Cain consistently vilifies American Muslims and Islam, even declaring that he would not consider hiring a Muslim to serve in his cabinet. Last week, Cain waded into mosque controversy in Murfreesboro, TN, declaring the Muslim community’s plan to build an Islamic center “an infringement and an abuse of our freedom of religion” as it “is not an innocent mosque.” To Cain, the center is a definitive example of what he sees is the infiltration of Sharia Law.
On Fox News Sunday today, host Chris Wallace pursued Cain’s reasoning behind his rabid opposition to the Tennessee center. Cain explained that while the Constitution guarantees a separation of church and state, the Islamic faith “combines church and state. They’re using the church part of our First Amendment to infuse their morals in that community.” Noting his constant invocation of the Constitution which guarantees the freedom of religion, Wallace asked Cain whether any American community has a right to ban a mosque. Cain replied, “Yes, they have the right to do that”:
WALLACE: But couldn’t any community then say they don’t want a mosque in our community?
CAIN: They could say that. Chris, lets go back to the fundamental issue that the people are basically saying they’re objecting to. They’re objecting to the fact Islam is both a religion and a set of laws, Sharia law. That’s the difference between any one of our other traditional religions where it’s just about religious purposes. The people in the community know best, and I happen to side with the people in Murfreesboro.
WALLACE: You’re saying any community, if they want to ban a mosque?
CAIN: Yes. They have a right to do that. That’s not discriminating based upon religion.
The element in the Murfreesboro community that Cain is siding with has made their feelings about Islam abundantly clear. Last year, community members scrawled “not welcome” on the signs at the center site and torched the construction equipment. Murfreesboro’s state Sen. Bill Ketron (R) sponsored a bill that would make it a felony to practice Sharia law, “which includes lessons found in the Quran, the holy book of Islam, and which can inform how Muslims live their everyday lives, including prayer rituals.”
The fact that Cain is championing right-wing bigotry and rejecting a basic tenet of the Constitution to do so betrays the very patriotism he so often invokes.