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. Squiggs

    Which one is it moron. We protect religious freedoms or we don't. Stop trying to sound tolerant while sounding bigoted. The people who will buy that hipocrisy you already have in your pocket

    July 27, 2010 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  2. Geoz

    Another marker in the "tea party is full of racist morons" list. It is getting kinda overwhelming.

    July 27, 2010 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  3. KatieDid

    Haven't these Rethuglicans ever heard of diarrhea-of-the-mouth?

    I love it everytime they open the mouth they shove a foot into it!!

    Keep up the divisionist tactics!! They're working in OUR favor, NOT yours!!!!

    July 27, 2010 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  4. Joshua Ludd

    Welcome to the conservative movement of the 21st century. Anyone else think this sort of thing rings eerily similar to Hitler's "The jews are a race, certainly, but not a human one" comment? I mean, I hate to bring up Hitler, but when you start talking about changing what you call something or someone to deny them rights in this way, this is the first thing that pops into my head.

    July 27, 2010 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  5. Joshua Ludd

    Also.. a nationality? What nation would that be?

    July 27, 2010 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  6. Greg Smith

    What a choice Tennessee voters have, a sucessionist or a religious bigot. Obviously Ramsey hasn't taken a good look at Christianity as his description of "a violent political philosophy more than peace-loving religion" seems to apply there.

    July 27, 2010 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  7. Jeff in DC

    I'm not a liberal elitist or anything, but I'd rather be labeled an elitist for saying that Republicans like this are inferior, uneducated, stupid, and racist. That's right... Republicans are an inferior people and deserve to be ruled over by people who know better about things like the 1st Amendment of the Constitution. Go ahead and call that elitism. I call it moral clarity. It's time to call a spade a spade, and to call Republicans a bunch of inferior ignorants.

    July 27, 2010 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  8. snow

    Has anyone noticed the only time the left wing nuts argue for religious freedom is when you are talking about muslims? Freedom of religion is fought against by the liberals every day as they try to enforce their intolerance on others except for islam.

    July 27, 2010 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  9. SayWhat

    Religious freedom to the GOP = Freedom to be a Southern Baptist. You have to love these Bible thumpers who hate in defense of their "religion". What would Jesus say?

    July 27, 2010 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  10. Enrique

    With no ideas or solutions to offer, Republicans resort to fearmongering and attacking.

    July 27, 2010 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  11. SdJ

    What a sad, sad, hateful man.

    July 27, 2010 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  12. all of America

    He is right , we have to draw the line somwhere,why is it when a foreign group of people come to america to live in america, they want to live the lifestyles of their foreign country, what ever happend to the term, assimilate ? We can see from the past that ,this religion has been a radical one ,not to say that all are radical, look at their history . History doesen't lie. If they can't assimilate ,leave.

    July 27, 2010 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  13. ..leave it up to a red state

    What a COMPLETE moron these people are! They trample on our constitution with ignorant comments and thoughts like this! yet they call themselves "real americans"...NOW tell me that tea partiers and republicans aren't RACISTS! of course they are!!!

    July 27, 2010 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  14. ..leave it up to a red state

    and another thing...let's see fox news cover this story? let's see fox news "ASK FOR HIS RESIGNATION"...probably not..cuz they speak this guy's language!

    July 27, 2010 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  15. john

    So one Republican candidate in Tennessee calls Islam a cult, and another hints at secession. Some GOP there in Tennessee!

    July 27, 2010 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  16. markus

    can someone PLEASE explain to me again how there is no link between Tea Party members and racism???

    they keep claiming it up and down...but then stuff like this pops up, and the question is raised all over again...

    July 27, 2010 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  17. dblzap

    The GOP offer nothing for the American people so they use fear, hate and ignorance as their tool to gain power!

    July 27, 2010 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  18. whodunnit

    Just go to a globe and give it a spin. Then ask yourself which
    islamic nation you would like to live in. Ask yourself what country
    with a dominate islamic influence would you want to retire to.
    Which one (if you are not islamic) would you dare to visit ?

    July 27, 2010 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  19. Steve in CT

    At first I thought this guy is off the mark. But with a little thought I realized due to our separation of church and state would Shariah law superceed societal law because no law enforcement in the USA would have juristiction? If Shariah law permits what we'd consider murder the laws of our society would have no juristiction and would need to let it happen. My initial thought of this guy being a biggot was wrong. He's a heads up thinker looking to protect. Great call, Lt. Gov..

    July 27, 2010 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  20. Henry Miller, Libertarian

    Ramsey has a point. When a purported religion undertakes to exercise the power of a civil government, as shariah law does, it's not too much of stretch to say it has ceased to be a religion.

    July 27, 2010 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  21. Jeff

    Sure got to hand it to those Born-Agains. Fight for only THEIR religious freedoms... True colors shown, now what are the stupid voters going to do I wonder?

    July 27, 2010 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  22. Brian

    Don't let the fact that Christians have killed more people in the history of the world than all our wars combined get in the way. All ORGANIZED religions are nutty. Get over yourselves.

    July 27, 2010 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  23. Kahuna

    Another example of Republicans trying to get everyone onto the "right" religion. After Republicans retake congress and the WH in the next 2+ years, you will see legislation declaring the USA a "Christian" nation. The dictatorship will soon follow.

    July 27, 2010 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  24. dem in wi

    Repubs/Tea Partiers are doing a GREAT job, on their own, revealing their intelligence level. Yikes.

    July 27, 2010 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  25. Republicans Are The American Taliban

    Where is the OUTRAGE from Mitt Romney who is also a member of a religious cult?

    July 27, 2010 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
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