June 13th, 2011
11:17 PM ET

At debate, Republican candidates spar over Islam

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

(CNN) - There weren’t too many sharp differences among the Republican presidential candidates in Monday night’s New Hampshire debate, but a crack did emerge over how Islam and Muslims ought to be treated in the United States.

The CNN debate opened with discussions on economic issues, but later veered toward faith-based matters like the role of religion in candidates’ decision making, abortion, gay marriage – and how the United States ought to treat Muslims living within its borders.

The exchange on that issue opened with a question to former Godfather’s Pizza CEO Herman Cain, who had said previously that he wouldn’t feel comfortable appointing a Muslim to his presidential Cabinet.

“I would not be comfortable because you have peaceful Muslims and then you have militant Muslims – those that are trying to kill us,” Cain said at Monday night’s debate. “And so when I said I wouldn’t be comfortable, I was thinking about the ones who are trying to kill us.”

Cain went further, addressing the prospect of Sharia, or Muslim law, being applied in the United States, which some conservatives say constitutes a growing threat to the American legal system.

“I don’t believe in Sharia law in American courts,” Cain said Monday. “I believe in American laws in American courts, period.”

“There have been instances in New Jersey, there was an instance in Oklahoma , where Muslims did try to influence court decisions with Sharia law,” he continued. “I was simply saying, very emphatically, American laws in American courts.”

Cain also said he would ask Muslims seeking jobs in his administration “certain questions … to make sure that we have people committed to the Constitution.”

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who spoke next, appeared to brush aside Cain’s concerns about Sharia and his suspicions of American Muslims.

“Of course, we're not going to have Sharia law applied in U.S. courts. That's never going to happen,” Romney said. "We have a Constitution and we follow the law.”

Romney then appeared to defend American Muslims, even if he didn’t mention them specifically.

“We recognize that people of all faiths are welcome in this country,” he said. “Our nation was founded on a principle of religious tolerance. That's in fact why some of the earliest patriots came to this country and why we treat people with respect, regardless of their religious persuasion.”

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich quickly jumped in to push back on Romney, siding more with Cain over the issue of Islam. Gingrich invoked Faisal Shahzad, the so-called Times Square bomber of 2010, who is a U.S. citizen from Pakistan.

“Now, I just want to go out on a limb here,” Gingrich said. “I'm in favor of saying to people, 'If you're not prepared to be loyal to the United States, you will not serve in my administration, period. '”

“We did this in dealing with the Nazis and we did this in dealing with the communists,” Gingrich continued. “And it was controversial both times, and both times we discovered after a while, there are some genuinely bad people who would like to infiltrate our country. And we have got to have the guts to stand up and say no.”

Cain’s and Gingrich’s comments on American Muslims supplied some of the night’s biggest applause lines.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Herman Cain • Islam • Mitt Romney • Newt Gingrich • Politics

soundoff (206 Responses)
  1. Ignatiju Rivasd

    Genuinely programming is nothing but itis a logic, if you get handle on it then you are the professional else nothing.

    July 31, 2012 at 7:45 am |
  2. Ayaz

    Thank you Lord, no more “9,9,9″!a0a0 Politiadcians and their daladliances or I should say men in power and their dcieanals.a0 What’s up with that?a0 Oh, nevaderadmind, justa0 saying…Any man who has a 13a0year relaadtionadship with a woman, plaadtonic or with benadeadfits, withadout telling his wife has someadthing to be ashamed of.a0 In a “helpading someadone out” kind of sitaduadaadtion, the wife is usuadally advised and involved.a0 Mrs. C. is not happy, believe me.The devolvading of “Womadens’ Rights” and make me furiadous.a0 I rememadber horadror stoadries of sleazy hotel aboradtions “back in the day”.a0 Men wantading to force a woman to carry a child against her will.a0 Then you get this guy, who is so, totally, oblivadiadous that he denies comadmitadting aduladtry.a0 Clinadton aside, I ama0 sure Hillary dealt with him.a0 How could he be so vain or naefve to think that this wouldn’t come out?a0 Shame on him, subadjectading his wife and famadily to thisa0“crap”.Oh well, one less hipadocrit to lisadten to.a0a0 Sorry, someadtimes this stuff is just, plain and simadply, annoying.

    June 26, 2012 at 5:42 am |
  3. Marie Kidman


    June 23, 2011 at 10:51 am |
  4. Jesus is the way


    June 20, 2011 at 12:15 am |
  5. Muneef


    The sharia myth sweeps America

    USA today



    June 19, 2011 at 11:34 pm |
  6. Muneef

    [7:94] Whenever we sent a prophet to any com-m-unity, we afflicted its people with adversity and hardship, that they may implore.

    [7:95] Then we sub-sti-tuted peace and prosperity in place of that hardship. But alas, they turned heedless and said, "It was our parents who experienced that hardship before prosperity." Consequently, we punished them suddenly when they least expected.

    [7:96] Had the people of those com-m-unities believed and turned righteous, we would have showered them with blessings from the heaven and the earth. Since they decided to disbelieve, we punished them for what they earned.

    [7:97] Did the people of the present com-m-unities guarantee that our retribution will not come to them in the night as they sleep?

    [7:98] Did the people of today's com-m-unities guarantee that our retribution will not come to them in the daytime while they play?

    [7:99] Have they taken GOD's plans for granted? None takes GOD's plans for granted except the losers.

    [7:100] Does it ever occur to those who inherit the earth after previous generations that, if we will, we can punish them for their sins, and seal their hearts, causing them to turn deaf?

    [7:101] We narrate to you the history of those com-m-unities: their messengers went to them with clear proofs, but they were not to believe in what they had rejected before. GOD thus seals the hearts of the disbelievers.

    [7:102] We found that most of them disregard their covenant; we found most of them wicked.

    [7:142] We summoned Moses for thirty* nights, and completed them by adding ten. Thus, the audience with his Lord lasted forty * nights. Moses said to his brother Aaron, "Stay here with my people, maintain righteousness, and do not follow the ways of the corrupters."

    [7:143] When Moses came at our appointed time, and his Lord spoke with him, he said, "My Lord, let me look and see You." He said, "You cannot see Me. Look at that mountain; if it stays in its place, then you can see Me." Then, his Lord manifested Himself to the mountain, and this caused it to crumble. Moses fell unconscious. When he came to, he said, "Be You glorified. I repent to You, and I am the most convinced believer."

    [7:144] He said, "O Moses, I have chosen you, out of all the people, with My messages and by speaking to you. Therefore, take what I have given you and be appreciative."

    [7:145] We wrote for him on the tablets all kinds of enlightenments and details of everything: "You shall uphold these teachings strongly, and exhort your people to uphold them – these are the best teachings. I will point out for you the fate of the wicked."

    [7:146] I will divert from My revelations those who are arrogant on earth, without justification. Consequently, when they see every kind of proof they will not believe. And when they see the path of guidance they will not adopt it as their path, but when they see the path of straying they will adopt it as their path. This is the consequence of their rejecting our proofs, and being totally heedless thereof.

    [7:147] Those who reject our revelations and the meeting of the Hereafter, their works are nullified. Are they requited only for what they committed?

    [7:156] "And decree for us righteousness in this world, and in the Hereafter. We have repented to You." He said, "My retribution befalls whomever I will. But My mercy encompasses all things. However, I will specify it for those who (1) lead a righteous life, (2) give the obligatory charity (Zakat), (3) believe in our revelations, and

    [7:157] "(4) follow the messenger, the gentile prophet (Muhammad), whom they find written in their Torah and Gospel. He exhorts them to be righteous, enjoins them from evil, allows for them all good food, and prohibits that which is bad, and unloads the burdens and the shackles imposed upon them. Those who believe in him, respect him, support him, and follow the light that came with him are the successful ones."

    [7:158] Say, "O people, I am GOD's messenger to all of you. To Him belongs the sovereignty of the heavens and the earth. There is no god except He. He controls life and death." Therefore, you shall believe in GOD and His messenger, the gentile prophet, who believes in GOD and His words. Follow him, that you may be guided.

    [7:159] Among the followers of Moses there are those who guide in accordance with the truth, and the truth renders them righteous.

    June 19, 2011 at 11:07 pm |
  7. Muneef

    Prof. Wagner: I believe that the Holy God speaks to us in the Quran

    Professor Walter Wagner, a professor of theology, shared his vision of the Quran with Sunday’s Zaman readers.
    After carefully reading the Quran and examining it based on his many years of study, a leading American theologian has concluded that via the holy book God is speaking to all human beings around the world, a voice that, in his astonishing book, he said he tried to transmit to readers and students, as well to himself, to deepen his understanding.

    Professor Walter Wagner’s fascinating book “Opening the Qur’an: Introducing Islam’s Holy Book” is definitely a bewildering and inspiring book, not only for the non-Muslim and English-speaking readers, but also Muslim readers. Wagner “opens” the Quran by offering a comprehensive and extraordinarily readable, step-by-step introduction to the text, making it accessible to everyone who is interested in Islam and Islam’s holy book.

    Watch: http://www.ebru.tv/en/genres/TalkShow/footnote/episodes/4/402-walter-h-wagner 


    June 18, 2011 at 9:30 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.