A supporter at a Donald Trump created quite a stir on Thursday when, among other incendiary remarks, he falsely claimed President Obama was a Muslim.
But the comment raises an interesting question: What if it were true? Why should it matter if Obama was a Muslim?
On Meet The Press, Chuck Todd posed that exact question to Ben Carson, the retired neurosurgeon who is closely trailing Trump in the polls. Carson said he would not support a Muslim president and that only candidates with a faith “consistent with the Constitution” should be President.
CHUCK TODD: Let me wrap this up by finally dealing with what’s been going on, Donald Trump, and a deal with a questioner that claimed that the president was Muslim. Let me ask you the question this way. Should a President’s faith matter? Should your faith matter to voters?
BEN CARSON: Well, 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. But if it fits within the realm of America and consistent with the constitution, no problem.
TODD: So do you believe that Islam is consistent with the constitution?
CARSON: No, I don’t, I do not.
TODD: So you–
CARSON: I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation. I absolutely would not agree with that.
In suggesting a religious test for potential presidents — where some religions would be “inconsistent” with the constitution — Carson appears somewhat unfamiliar with the text of the constitution. Article VI, paragraph 3 of the United States constitution states “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.”
Carson’s answer was reminiscent of former presidential candidate Herman Cain who said in 2012 that he would not appoint a Muslim to his cabinet. He later met with Muslim leaders and apologized for his comments. “I am truly sorry for any comments that may have betrayed my commitment to the U.S. Constitution and the freedom of religion guaranteed by it,” Cain said.
CAIR, the nation's largest muslim civil rights group, calls on Ben Carson to drop out of the race.
Keith Ellison, a Congressman who is Muslim, responds:
Bernie Sanders responds:
I am very disappointed that Dr. Carson would suggest that a Muslim should not become president of the United States.— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) September 20, 2015
People should be elected to office based on their ideas, not their religion or the color of their skin.— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) September 20, 2015