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. Bob in PA

    Taking heat from who, CAIR ?
    Shariah law is barbaric at its best. It should not be tolerated anywhere in the world. It is nothing more than a way for the few in a ruling class to control the many they keep in uneducated squalor.
    CAIR is a joke and is nothing more than a front for radical Islam. They have never actively denounced the terrible practices of their beloved religion. They should be banned from organizing in the US. The media needs to stop giving them a forum. The fact that CAIR exists is all that needs to be said. If Islam was all they claim it to be, CAIR would not need to exist.

    July 27, 2010 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  2. AKS

    It's unfortunate that this level of misunderstanding about the religion is occuring. As a Muslim, I do agree that it is our responsibility to reclaim our religion away from violent agenda-seekers. It's again a misunderstanding that Muslims haven't been condemning violent extremists as Muslims all around the world, even in the most conservative areas like Saudi Arabia, are condemning violence. But, again, one terrorist act in the name of Islam is too many. I only hope that Ramsey and others can learn about the religion as the vast majority of its followers practice it, and not stereotype it with the extreme minority.

    July 27, 2010 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  3. CR

    Another day, another two-bit Republican shows his bigotry.

    July 27, 2010 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  4. Not All Docs Play Golf

    The Republians seem to actually embrace ignorance. They espouse ignorance. They promote ignorance. Thay have come to be defined by their ignorance. And any moderate, more intelligent Republican is frightened by Rush Limbaugh and the Tea Party and won't buck the trend, so they also give tacit approval to ignorance.

    July 27, 2010 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  5. Sam I Am

    What an ignorant fool. And he'll probably get elected.

    July 27, 2010 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  6. Carl

    I really wish our politicians were better educated... I think Ramsey needs to look up cult in the dictionary! To refer to a major religion as a cult is absurd. No to mention the hypocrisy of it all – Christians can go to spread the word of Christ while these same people won't extend the same freedoms to Muslims?

    I think if we work on making ourselves friendly to Muslims they may start to not hate us as much.

    July 27, 2010 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  7. Laurie in Spokane

    While certainly not a Republican, or in support of any Republicans running for public offce, I can't see that what Ramsey said was too off the mark. This country IS going to have to answer some hard questions our how we view Islam and whether our tolerance carries over to religions not in the mainstream.

    July 27, 2010 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  8. La Piovra

    Somehow, these statements remind me of the ones being made about Jews a century back, and we see where that led.

    July 27, 2010 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  9. Liz the First

    Wow, these clowns sure make Tennessee proud. just yesterday i was wondering why i chose to move here from NY. between this idiot questioning the validity of one of the world's main religious to Zack Wamp wanting to cecede from the Union and turn us instantly into a third world country, what a sorry crop of candidates we have. and the sad thing is that this is a red state so some of these sorry wastes of skin will end up going to DC to represent this state.

    July 27, 2010 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  10. Tracy H.

    Republicans are always the one's to shout the loudest about "freedom", "individual liberty", and "God given constitutional rights". There also the first one to trample on someone else's freedoms when they feel their security is threatened.

    July 27, 2010 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  11. DanInNooYawk

    By painting all Moslems as radicals, he is playing right into the hands of the radical extremists. What a moron. It's like saying nobody should build a protestant church within 200 miles of Waco, Texas, because they've had some problems with religious cults in the past.

    July 27, 2010 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  12. Bill

    Let's get rid of ALL religions. One is as dumb as the other and only create divisions among people.

    July 27, 2010 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  13. Balls

    get your first glimpse of life under the regime of the christian right. They label themselves small govt. tea partiers, but all they are doing is suppressing everyone who does not believe their doctrine.

    July 27, 2010 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  14. Anonymous

    You guys have some seriously illiterate politicians running your country. I love the US but imagine how much greater as a nation you would be if you had people with an IQ running for office.

    July 27, 2010 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  15. Marcus

    FYI Mr. Tennessee Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, Islam is a religion with more than 13 centuries of existence and over a billion of followers. Strictly technically speaking, Judaism & Christianism & Islamism worship the very same deity (God) although through way too different ways and dogmas. And, just like its 'sisters', Islamism is a religion with a lot of internal divisions, in which (like in ALLL RELIGIONS) the radicals ARE NOT THE MAJORITY.
    Got it?

    July 27, 2010 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  16. aatami

    I think George Bush set a really bad precedent for the Repubs. His presidency sent the message that you can be an uneducated idiot and still be successful in american politics.

    July 27, 2010 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  17. Becks

    What a joke – I've been to that area of Tenn many times – religious fundamentalism already exists there in the form of intolerant Christian fundamentalists!

    July 27, 2010 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  18. John

    The Religion that preaches TOLERANCE, comes short again.

    The Religious Right & the GOP seem to forget what the Constitution
    says regarding Freedom of Religion.

    July 27, 2010 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  19. Eddie B

    Are you kidding me!!?!?!?! These Tea Party radicals trumpet the constitution and their rights non-stop, but only if it applies to them. I am sick and tired of these hypocrites. They do not care about equality for all on any level.

    July 27, 2010 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  20. David

    ALL religion is a cult, that is the problem with society today, and why we as a people can not move beyond the judgment and indifference stage of others.....

    July 27, 2010 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  21. Ron

    The Tea Party is the gift that keeps on giving. These politicians that they endorse continue putting their feet in their mouths. Well, I guess they can't help it...its their true selves coming out.

    July 27, 2010 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  22. vic

    Its all about how to win the election talking about religion, illegal immigrants, attacking other RNC candidates. Repel Obama health care ,separate state from federal government

    So far single republicans didn’t say how they will create jobs, how they will save roads and bridges, how to improve educational system

    Only I watch is nasty commercials
    We wish current governor stay in the power another term 2/3 like him

    July 27, 2010 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  23. Larry

    LOL. We need to send these republican morons to school!

    July 27, 2010 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  24. Darth Vadik, CA

    1 BILLION Muslims need an uneducated moron from Tennessee telling them what a religion is, hahahahahah, OK, whatever...

    July 27, 2010 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  25. rob

    Just for clarification, for the people that only get their news at CNN:

    CAIR itself is a very controversial organization with alledged ties with extremist groups and terrorists sympathizers. CNN won't add this information when quoting CAIR officials if it gets in the way of painting a Republican as insensative for trying to take away someones rights etc.

    If something thet Ramsey said upset CAIR then I think he is on the right track.

    CNN, you are a sham. You are either inept or your deliberately trying to slant the news to fit yours and the democrat parties agenda.

    July 27, 2010 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
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