Following 2016 Republican presidential candidate and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson’s remarks on NBC’s Meet the Press indicating that he would not support a Muslim for president of the United States, CNN’s Wolf Blitzer posed the same question to U.S. Senator Rand Paul on Tuesday.
“You know, the Constitution says there will be no religious test, and, when I ran for office, there were some people who insinuated I wasn’t a good enough Christian to run for office, so I’m pretty sensitive about people saying that your religion is not pure enough,” said Paul, referring to attacks on his religion by his 2010 Senate race opponent Jack Conway.
He added, “There’s nothing precluding a Muslim from holding office, and we do have several Muslims who I think are conscientious and well-meaning in Congress and some who I’ve actually worked with on legislation, criminal justice reform, but I do think there would be some questions to ask. Do you believe literally that a woman should be stoned to death for adultery? Do you believe that when someone steals something, their hand should be cut off?”
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Senator Paul then pointed to the poor womens’ rights records of Muslim-led countries like Saudi Arabia and Brunei, suggesting that a Muslim candidate would need to clarify that his or her interpretation of Islam comports with U.S. views on gender.
Blitzer then pressed Paul to say whether he would personally support a Muslim for president.
“Sure,” Paul replied. “If they support the things that made America great—constitutional principles, Bill of Rights—but some of those are inconsistent with the interpretation of the Quran that’s being put forward, particularly by some folks.”
Paul added, “These are important questions to ask if you have someone who’s Muslim running for office. Do you think violence is O.K.? Do you think Sharia law should be the law of the land? Do you think that the 9/11 bombings were O.K.? For goodness’ sake, I surely wouldn’t vote for any Christian or Muslim that thought, you know, that violence was a way to shape your religious views.”
The above-embedded video clip concludes with Paul confirming that he believes that U.S. President Barack Obama is a Christian and that he was born in the United States.
On Monday, Ben Carson modified his position and said that he could support a moderate Muslim president who denounces radical Islam and that he would not support anyone “whose faith might interfere with carrying out the duties of the Constitution.”
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