Raising Cain

July 21, 2011

Republican presidential hopeful and former pizza chain head Herman Cain is continuing his verbal rampage against American Muslims. Cain previously declared he would not appoint Muslims to his presidential Cabinet (see posts here and here). Although he will not be appointing anyone to a presidential Cabinet, Cain's rhetoric is still dangerous and harmful to the political process as he works to mainstream religious discrimination. Unfortunately, Cain is only getting worse. While campaigning in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, Cain argued that a proposed mosque should not be allowed to be built in that city (some have unsuccessfully sued to stop the mosque from being built). Cain claimed:

It is an infringement and an abuse of our freedom of religion. ... And I don't agree with what's happening, because this isn't an innocent mosque. ... This is just another way to try to gradually sneak Shariah law into our laws. ... and I absolutely object to that.
Later, Cain went on Fox News to defend his remarks and answered in the affirmative when asked if he thought communities had the right to stop mosques from being built (even though communities do not have the legal right to discriminate in such a manner). Cain stated:
Yes, they have the right to do that. That's not discriminating based upon their particular religion. There is an aspect of them building that mosque that doesn't get talked about. And the people in the community know what it is and they're talking about it.
So he thinks a community can stop a mosque because it is a mosque but that that act is not religious discrimination. Huh? After justly being criticized for his remarks, Cain attempted to justify his religion-based discrimination by invoking the First Amendment. Cain argued:
Our Constitution guarantees separation of church and state. Islam combines church and state. ... They are using the church part of our First Amendment to infuse their mosque in that community and the people in the community do not like it, they disagree with it.
So Cain apparently thinks the First Amendment only applies to those groups that the majority of the people in any given community agree with. Has he ever even read the First Amendment?

C. Welton Gaddy, a Baptist minister who heads the Interfaith Alliance, penned a good response to Cain. Gaddy argued:
Your comments suggest a serious lack of understanding not only of Islam but of religion writ large and of the meaning of our First Amendment. Once again, I must emphasize the irrational fear being spread by you and others across the country that sharia is somehow taking over our courts (or that it could somehow do so) runs counter to the judgments of reputable constitutional lawyers across the ideological spectrum in our nation. ... Please, for the sake of our democracy and for the integrity of religion, I urge you to temper your rhetoric and to cease your attacks on Islam. ... Winning an election is not worth compromising our nation's historic commitment to religious freedom.
Amen! Hopefully other religious and political leaders will join in rejecting Cain's inaccurate and hateful comments. Unfortunately, however, Cain's attacks on Muslims represent a common tactic in our age of confessional politics.


UPDATE [7-26-11]: Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to the U.S. Congress, rightfully criticized Cain as a "religious bigot."

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