July 27th, 2010
08:40 AM ET
12 years ago

Tennessee gubernatorial candidate takes heat for Islam jibe

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/07/27/art.ronramsey.file2.ramsey.jpg caption ="A Republican running in Tennessee's gubernatorial election is taking heat after some controversial comments he made about Islam surfaced online."](CNN) – A Republican running in Tennessee's gubernatorial election is taking heat after comments he made earlier this month questioning whether Islam is a religion surfaced online.

In a YouTube video posted July 15 and reported by the liberal website Talking Points Memo Monday, Tennessee Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey is seen at a campaign event expressing his opposition to an expansion of a mosque in Murfressboro, Tennessee.

The proposed expansion has become a hot-button issue in the city about 35 miles southeast of Nashville, with supporters alleging that opponents are displaying religious intolerance, while people fighting the mosque say zoning concerns and worries about Islamic radicalism are their chief concerns.

Ramsey, who has been endorsed by 20 Tea Party organizations, said he is a supporter of religious freedoms but such protections may not extend to facilitating "shariah [Islamic] law into the state of Tennessee. . .into the United States."

"Now, you could even argue whether being a Muslim is actually a religion, or is it a nationality, way of life, a cult, whatever you want to call it," he continued. "But certainly we do protect our religions, but at the same time, this is something we are going to have to face."

Ramsey's comments came the same day several hundred opponents of the mosque faced off against roughly the same number of counter-protesters in a march from the city's middle school to its courthouse.

Now the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is urging Ramsey to meet with Muslim leaders in Tennessee so he can be provided with a "balanced and accurate information about Islam."

"We see a disturbing trend in our nation in which it is suggested that American Muslims should have fewer or more restricted constitutional rights than citizens of other faiths," said CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper.

Meanwhile, Ramsey defended his comments Monday, saying, "My concern is that far too much of Islam has come to resemble a violent political philosophy more than peace-loving religion.

"It's time for American Muslims who love this country to publicly renounce violent jihadism and to drum those who seek to do America harm out of their faith community," Ramsey also said in a statement to Talking Points Memo.

Ramsey is facing Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam and U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp for the GOP nomination. Wamp has also been the subject of recent controversy, appearing to suggest last week that Tennessee should consider secession in light of mandates forced on the states by the Obama administration's health care bill. Wamp later walked back those comments.

A Mason-Dixon poll released Sunday indicates Haslam leading Wamp and Ramsey by double digits ahead of the August 5 primary.

Filed under: 2010 • Popular Posts • Ron Ramsey • Tennessee
soundoff (139 Responses)
  1. Marge

    If you notice, it always seems to be republicans who are putting down ideas, peoples, religion and races. Do they think it makes them look more like demi-gods to constantly be urging hate and violence against people who look a little different, who talk a little different or worship a little different then what they are?

    It seems republicans can't acquaint with any body or any thing that isn't "THEM" and that's the problem with this country. Until they learn compassion and tolerance they will have a heck of time getting along with other people in this great country of ours.

    July 27, 2010 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  2. Frank

    Of course its not a religion. READ THE QUARAN, the bible of islam. Its a political government basically. It is the murderous rantings of a mad man on how the world should be conqured, non-belivers killed and that Islam will rule the world! We all know that. Why is this person being singled out for cyring out loud.

    July 27, 2010 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  3. Samuel, Boston, MA

    "But certainly we do protect our religions, but at the same time, this is something we are going to have to face."

    What he and most Americans don't and won't face up to is that all organized religions are equally ridiculous. None of them stand up to scrutiny, so you won't see any direct attacks. This is similar to the issue Mitt Romney's campaign raised, Mormonism is a cult but it's a very sizable cult that is kinda sorta Christian so they had to attack carefully.

    July 27, 2010 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  4. Eric

    Well, if it weren't obvious to the slower among us, it's patently clear this year that the media has clearly set its target on conservatives.

    Obviously, they HAVE to manufacture controversy where none actually exists because the liberal candidates are all SO far back in the polls. They have to do something to staunch the liberals' electoral bloodbath that is going to occur this year.

    July 27, 2010 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  5. Larry from Texas

    Please pass the snakes and let's speak in tongues for a bit... From my viewpoint all religions are variations of the same. Some mythical hero responds when people beg them for good outcomes or in the long-run, eternal salvation to some "happy place". Oddly, this unsubstantiated nonsense infects not only the naive and foolish, but educated and intellectual people also fall under the spell. It's a powerful force and likely the greatest source of conflict and misery throughout the history of the modern world. Tenessee just happens to be a place where Christian wackos concentrate, hence the ridiculous comments from their political weasels trying to opiate the masses...

    July 27, 2010 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  6. GL

    Republicans can not help themselves from insulting everybody that do not look like them. They have really become the Anti-minority party. You can not keep insulting people you don’t agree with just too score polity points with your nutty base.

    July 27, 2010 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  7. Ben in Texas

    No, actually, a normal person would never argue that Islam is not a religion. It meets all the criteria for a religion and is in fact one of the world's great religions.

    It is apparent that Mr. Ramsey wants to have 1 state religion, fundamentalist Christianity, and he is perfectly willing to implement that by defining every other religion as a cult.

    Or, maybe he thinks Tea Party is a religion?

    July 27, 2010 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  8. Uro Dumas

    ""My concern is that far too much of Islam has come to resemble a violent political philosophy more than peace-loving religion."

    Now lets all go bomb a women's health clinic ...

    If you replace Islam w RWfanatic Christian in this doofus' statements, it makes sense.

    "It's time for Evangelical Chritstians ... to renounce racism and intolerance and violence against womenb ..."

    This guy needs to refudiate his comments.

    July 27, 2010 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  9. DJ in TX

    When will politicians learn they are always on camera or recorded. He's just feeding into the fears that ALL Muslims are radical. I seem to remember a time in history when Christians were feared as well. People of Islamic faith do need to denounce the radicals within them, but so do ALL faiths, religions, movements, groups, political parties:-). All groups have fringe elements. And ALL fring elements have the capacity for violence in some form or fashion. Let's not single out Islam. I'm Christian, full believer in Christ. My bible tells me not to "label" people. What about your bible Mr. Ramsey?

    July 27, 2010 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  10. Tim "Baby" Tindall

    Historacly is Islam primarily a religion or a military movement? Look it up. The answer is military.

    July 27, 2010 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  11. Seth Hill

    Islam is, unfortunately, a religion, just as bad as Christianity, Judaism, etc.

    July 27, 2010 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  12. Ron in california

    Whats wrong with his comment? He is only questioning is only what the rest of us are thinking anyway. Maybe it's tie for Islam to demonstrate more moderation.

    July 27, 2010 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  13. JES

    Who cares what the Muslims think.

    I don't think I have ever seen a peaceful reglion wanting to muder anyone who is not of the Muslim so called faith.

    If the Muslims were a peaceful faith then they should be crying out for peace and not total destruction of any faith but their's.

    July 27, 2010 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  14. Ed FL

    America should be so Blessed, hopefully this turkey has the same idea as Wamp to secede from the union. How lucky can we get. We could pray that a few more states from the bible belt join in. We might be a little bit poorer but we sure would lose a lot of dumb people.

    July 27, 2010 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  15. SNAPPA

    All religions by definition are cults, all organized groups of religion should be banned or discouraged.

    July 27, 2010 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  16. JP

    Virginia governor Bob McDonnell was another grade A jerk who was implying that Islam is not a religion, but a cult of fear and terrorism. Then when Americans and non-Americans alike, who understand America's FREEDOM OF RELIGION stood up to condemn such words, and the political right mocked them all. They said "well it was weeks after the Fort Hood shooting, kind of hypocritical that we can't say it like it is". The political right is becoming a joke. One minute all they care about is their damn Constitution (cause jee, if we could JUST prove obama was born in kenya) and the next minute they are expressing religious intolerance and saying "oh well you're too dumb to get it". This is a joke for the political right to be doing this, and maybe people who truly understand that Islam is not about death and murder will stand up and agree how backwards that republicans are being about this. McDonnell got a free pass thanks to the news organizations. Don't keep supporting this psychological war against Islam and muslims.

    July 27, 2010 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  17. Orlando Patriot

    What "heat"? That is a very valid question and one that, by definition, shows Islam is as much an ideology as a religion. Therefore, we must consider the ideology (or belief) when making determination of "freedom of religion". The Mormons have their religion but also their ideology (i.e. polygamy allowed) and the U.S. makes laws saying the Mormons can believe what they want (i.e. religion) but their ideologies have limitations.

    Same apply to Muslims. Allowing the Muslims to build at Ground Zero, for example, is not a "freedom of religion" but rather does the U.S. accept the Muslim ideology in a section of our country that does not believe in that ideology? Absolutely not. We MUST separate the right of someone to practice a religion from the request for the U.S. to support the a group's ideology. The U.S. does NOT accept that ideology thus the right for the U.S. to limit or hinder Muslim mosques and "sharia" law.

    July 27, 2010 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  18. Brandon

    This is really disgraceful but no more so than the anti-Christian army on the left. If it was a church there would be critics on the other side worried about "radical" extremists – this is no different.

    July 27, 2010 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  19. mary

    This is a subject no one wants to talk about. He is right let those who live here and are peaceful stand up for America. But they don't because they are scared. Or they want to see Sharia law, and all Americans dead. They want to change the fabric of America and make it a Muslim nation. They will have there way with the birth rate of children from different mothers.

    July 27, 2010 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  20. Chuckster

    I agree with the senator. We are in America now and Muslims do NOT RESPECT OR GIVE RIGHTS to their Women. So I believe this is discrimination and has no place in our society so we should not reconize this religion until they come up to the 21st Century style of life.. When are Americans going to stop trying to apease Islam???? Get a grip people and stand up for what is right. This is America, not Pakistan or Afganistan, if you don't know the difference, get out of America and live under Sharia Law, then we will see how smart you are then.

    July 27, 2010 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  21. Tony

    Why is it that so many Republicans are trying to talk like Sarah Palin?

    July 27, 2010 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  22. Rosslaw

    Right, believing that the world is 6,000 years old, that illiterate shepherds mapped out the exact, accurate history of the entire world and the joys of rattlesnake juggling, now that's a real religion.

    July 27, 2010 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  23. Shucks

    As an athiest, I feel the same way about christianity that is throttled down the throats of all Americans who happen to be non-christian. If you have freedom of religion, then you can not pick and chose which of those you allow to congregate wherever you would allow any other religion. These hipocrites are why I "chose" to be an athiest over 30 years ago. I found nothing of value in any religion, and just the opposite. I found nothing that would allow myself in good conscience to believe in manmade controls, no matter what title you put to them. Religions do not equal morality. Religions do not make people better human beings. Religions should not be used to make laws that affect those who do not believe, and yet are expected to abide by them. To do otherwise bastardizes our Constitution and all that this country has stood for regarding equal rights for all of it's citizens. Religion will be the dividing factor in the foreseeable future for this country. Amazing how little crime, disention, and racism there are in developed countries that do not embrace religions. Cannot wait to retire to one of them and leave all this ridiculous fantasy behind.

    July 27, 2010 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  24. Would Tim Mcveigh be a Tea Party hero today?

    Poor Little Ron,another victom of the teabag nation of morons,led by Dick Armey,Rush Limbaughs lookalike and possible cousin.hahaha

    July 27, 2010 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  25. K from AZ

    Islam and western cultures are mutually exclusive concepts. If anyone would take the time to read the quoran (small letters intentional), they would see that Islam requires world-domination and infidels are to be destroyed or rendered third class (not even second) slaves.

    July 27, 2010 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
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