Weirdly, Ben Carson here is actually correct

Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson said Islam isn’t consistent with the U.S. Constitution and volunteered that a Muslim should not be president.

Mr. Carson’s comments, aired on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday, came after host Chuck Todd asked if a president’s faith should matter. The question was in the context of Donald Trump on Thursday not correcting a New Hampshire town hall questioner who asserted President Barack Obama is Muslim and proposed “getting rid” of purported Muslim “training camps” in the U.S.

“It depends on what that faith is,” replied Mr. Carson, a retired neurosurgeon who is a practicing Seventh-Day Adventist. “If it’s inconsistent with the values and principles of America, then of course it should matter. But if it fits within the realm of America and consistent with the Constitution, no problem.”

Mr. Todd asked if Mr. Carson believes Islam is “consistent with the Constitution.”

“No, I do not,” Mr. Carson answered. He then added: “I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation. I absolutely would not agree with that.”

Yes, it does rather depend upon which flavour of Islam one talks about but that division between Church and State is, to put it mildly, not quite as firmly drawn as the US Constitution says it is.

There’s a number of Christian denominations that don’t take it all that seriously too.

What I don’t know is quite what Sharia implies. Is an observant politician, for example, duty bound to try to bring in Sharia where they hold some political power? Or is it more about personal behaviour: the politician can let everyone else and the government lend at interest but mustn’t partake themselves?

Anyone actually know?

29 thoughts on “Weirdly, Ben Carson here is actually correct”

  1. “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” is intended to constrain Congress rather than the President.

    And as for Islam; by its fruits shall ye know it.

  2. I think you’re making a very western assumption on Sharia. Treating it as a body of law, separate from the Koran. It’s the Koran enacted as law, so depends on which interpretation of the Koran’s being used.
    So there’s no definative answer to your question.
    If one reads Islam as the worldwide Ummah, then any Muslim is required to expedite it.

  3. “but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States”

    Art VI

  4. ” Is an observant politician, for example, duty bound to try to bring in Sharia where they hold some political power?”

    No. There’s no obligation at all to do so, any more than Catholics are obliged to try and bring in Vatican law everywhere they hold office. Also as with Catholics, there is no obligation, commandment, good-boy-points, or anything of that nature encouraging anyone to live in a country under religious rule.

    Someone who practices Islam may believe that their country would be better as a religious state, or they may not – pretty clearly, the vast majority in this country are not in favour.

  5. Oh, and I’m reminded of the old Jewish joke:

    The day is at hand when the wearing of a skullcap and prayer shawl will no longer bar a man from becoming President – unless, of course, that man is Jewish.

  6. So Much For Subtlety

    Dave – “There’s no obligation at all to do so, any more than Catholics are obliged to try and bring in Vatican law everywhere they hold office.”

    I would think there is an obligation in both cases. There certainly is in Islam. Muslims have an obligation to forbid the bad and compel the good. There is a debate about whether this is an individual obligation (ie you may kill your neighbour if he worships idols) or it is a community one (as long as someone is doing it, that is fine). But that it is an obligation is undeniable.

    “Also as with Catholics, there is no obligation, commandment, good-boy-points, or anything of that nature encouraging anyone to live in a country under religious rule.”

    I am not sure Catholics accept there is such a thing as religious rule. Certainly at least one Catholic has declined to be Minister of Health because it would involve some connection with murder – that is, abortion. There is just morality.

    “Someone who practices Islam may believe that their country would be better as a religious state, or they may not – pretty clearly, the vast majority in this country are not in favour.”

    They can believe what they like. But that would make them unbelievers in the eyes of many. It is not clear what the majority of British Muslims think.

  7. “No. There’s no obligation at all to do so, any more than Catholics are obliged to try and bring in Vatican law everywhere they hold office”
    Surah 9v29
    “Fight those who do not believe in Allah or in the Last Day and who do not consider unlawful what Allah and His Messenger have made unlawful and who do not adopt the religion of truth from those who were given the Scripture – [fight] until they give the jizyah willingly while they are humbled.”
    Fortunately most Muslims don’t follow this

  8. Hell can be made on earth, Daesh and it’s own version of sharia visits upon mankind a version of hell on earth.

    Furthermore, when they were drafting, writing the Constitution, I don’t think any of ’em had heard about Sharia, still less about. Wahhabism and the Ummah.
    If they had have known, then the damn thing [Constitution] would have been rewritten to forestall the possibility.

  9. > Furthermore, when they were drafting, writing the Constitution, I don’t think any of ’em had heard about Sharia

    Oh bollocks. It wasn’t exactly a secret in the 1770s. Washington and Jefferson both mentioned “Mehometans” in their writings, and Islam showed up in the Federalist Papers as well.

  10. So Much For Subtlety

    Matthew L – “It wasn’t exactly a secret in the 1770s. Washington and Jefferson both mentioned “Mehometans” in their writings, and Islam showed up in the Federalist Papers as well.”

    Indeed,

    http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/09/29/thomas-jefferson-s-quran-how-islam-shaped-the-founders.html

    And shortly after Jefferson made his various fatuous comments, he was forced to pay off the Libyans who were attacking Americans ships and selling their crews into slavery. Asking the ambassador why they thought they had the right to do this, the ambassador (to the Court of Saint James, not Washington) said:

    The ambassador answered us that [the right] was founded on the Laws of the Prophet, that it was written in their Koran, that all nations who should not have answered their authority were sinners, that it was their right and duty to make war upon them wherever they could be found, and to make slaves of all they could take as prisoners, and that every Mussulman who should be slain in battle was sure to go to Paradise.

    Reality kind of sucks sometimes doesn’t it?

  11. Shouldn’t let the left footers off too light, either. There’ve been enough papal decrees to carry the word of the Acrobat to the furthest corners of the earth & create the Kingdom of Heaven for all. Meaning all. Hence the S.American Conquistadores & other carryings of peace & light..
    Trouble with religions, isn’t it? They’re like Humpty Dumpty. Do exactly what they say they do for the purposes of the people who believe in them.

  12. I wonder if presidential candidates in (the Islamic Republic of) Pakistan are grilled on whether they think a Christian should lead them.

    Dave – any more than Catholics are obliged to try and bring in Vatican law

    I’m not sure “Vatican law” exists in the sense you seem to think it does (the Vatican, as a sovereign state, has its own laws, but they’re not for export, unlike Sharia).

    Certainly, a Catholic has a moral obligation to practice the teachings of his faith. How seriously this is taken by nominally Catholic politicians can be measured against the fact that divorce, contraception and abortion are legal in just about every Catholic-majority country.

    Muslims are a diverse bunch, and some are devout, some are nominal, most are probably somewhere in between. But on average they do seem to be far more keen than Christians are to put their religious teachings into practice whenever they get the chance.

    Also, unlike in other major religions, the Muslim must always be wary of what will happen to him if his more excitable co-religionists decide that he’s an apostate. So there’s a tendency in Muslimism for the whole thing to get dragged in the direction of the angriest beardy guys.

    There are about 50 Islamic nations on this planet. That seems enough to me.

  13. The fundamental problem is simply that there is no such thing as a truly codified (in the Western sense) Sharia Law. Just about any cleric/Islamic scholar can put forth an interpretation/pronouncement on any particular issue and it can become part of “Sharia Law” for any Muslim who chooses to accept it as such.

    In theory, at any given time you can have as many legitimate versions of Sharia Law as there are Muslims.

  14. I think the real issue is the separation of church and state. As we’ve seen from our communities over here, Islam infects bloody everything.

  15. dearieme – Congress is the only branch (ostensibly) with the power to make laws, so saying “Congress shall make no law” theoretically constrains the entire Federal Government from acting against rights enumerated in the Constitution.*

    (*Actual practice may differ from theory)

  16. I know that OM: my point is that if you want to escape becoming an Islamic Republic it’s Congress where you have the constitutional protection. Executive misbehaviour isn’t covered, nor is there any protection against rule by judicial putsch.

  17. “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion”

    All that meant, in the context of the times, is that no Christian denomination should be made an established church, as is the case with the Church of England. It did not mean that religion should play no part in government, merely that no particular denomination should be priviliged in comparison with the others

  18. Gottcha, gottacha. In theory the other two branches are supposed to check the executive in the case of executive overreach, but again results may vary.

    Of all the things we have to worry about in the US becoming an Islamic Republic is pretty near the bottom of the list. We’ll get to watch continental Europe play that game years before it could be a problem for us.

  19. So Much For Subtlety

    OriginalMichael – “Of all the things we have to worry about in the US becoming an Islamic Republic is pretty near the bottom of the list. We’ll get to watch continental Europe play that game years before it could be a problem for us.”

    Sure. We will probably live to see France become a Muslim majority country. But the point about Carson is not the idiocy or otherwise of his comments. It is about whether we allow these self-appointed guardians of social hygiene determine what is socially acceptable or not. Whether we allow the Social Justice Warriors to set the terms of socially acceptable debate by ruling issues they do not like out of order. Or not.

    Carson said something. Instead of letting the voters decide, the mainstream media is attempting to drive him out of politics. I think that is a bigger threat than the Islamists.

    They have been doing it since Rolling Stone violated an off-the-record agreement and got Earl Butz fired. Who wasn’t actually a bad Secretary of Agriculture. We need to make them stop.

    (OK, Earl Butz probably should have been fired for the joke that did get him fired, but it is the principle of the thing. Once you let the camel get its nose under the tent etc etc)

  20. Tim, it’s what JohnnyDub says: the US Constitution (like all other Western polities) separates church and state on the ‘render unto Caesar’ principle.
    There is no similar distinction in Islam: it reigns supreme. Thus the founder of CAIR said:
    Islam isn’t in America to be equal to any other faith, but to become dominant. The Koran, the Muslim book of scripture, should be the highest authority in America, and Islam the only accepted religion on Earth.

  21. There’s a pretty comprehensive guide to the Sunni varieties of Sharia here:
    http://www.islamicbulletin.org/free_downloads/resources/reliance2_complete.pdf
    (Shiite and Sufi flavours don’t differ in most of the essentials. Claims that only an extremist minority of schools preach violent jihad are entirely false.)

    It was originally written as a handy summary of Sharia for the Muslim traveling abroad, where he might not have access to Islamic scholars. It doesn’t cover every detail and subtlety, but is a pretty good introduction for a Westerner. It’s been endorsed as current by top modern-day Islamic law experts too, in case anyone claims it’s out of date and no longer relevant.

    For anyone who wants to talk accurately about what Islam does and does not demand, it’s indispensable.

  22. For followers of the al-qaeda/isis flavors of islam, every muslim is required to do everything in his power to bring whatever land he’s in under control of islamic law. For those blathering about the constitution, religious tests and whatnot-absolutely irrelevant. The constitution prohibits the government from applying religious tests. All citizens are free to vote for their preferred candidates for any reason at all. All Carson said was that he doesn’t believe a muslim should be president. He never said that a muslim should be prevented by law from being president.

  23. Islam being rather more like Protestantism than Catholicism (no central ‘authority’ to tell you what you should believe), I would posit that it is difficult for anyone to say what is ‘true’ Islam or not.

  24. “For followers of the al-qaeda/isis flavors of islam, every muslim is required to do everything in his power to bring whatever land he’s in under control of islamic law.”

    Nope. Offensive jihad is a communal obligation, meaning that as long as enough Muslims are doing it, the rest get off. (Defensive jihad of areas already Muslim is different.) Offensive jihad also requires the permission and leadership of the caliph.

    See ‘Reliance of The Traveler’ linked above for details.

    “Islam being rather more like Protestantism than Catholicism (no central ‘authority’ to tell you what you should believe), I would posit that it is difficult for anyone to say what is ‘true’ Islam or not.”

    There’s the caliph. Or rather, there was. (Again, see ‘Reliance’ for details on the role of the caliph.)

    There are four main schools of Sunni Islam, each of which has a self-consistent theology pretty much agreed on by adherents to that school, and about 95% of it is the same in all four schools. The differences are relatively minor, although as is all too common with humans, the more minor the difference the more vitriolic the dispute tends to be.

  25. In my un-scholarly view the issue isn’t religion but organised religion.

    My understanding is that Islam, Judaism and Christianity all share the same roots but diverged in history. Islam diverged at the time of the Prophet, who led a new branch. Christianity diverged at the time of Christ, who also led a new branch.

    Much of the original teaching codified correct social behaviour, genetic, personal and food hygeine. All things designed to improve the lot of the people being instructed.

    [Personal view – some things codified then such as a ban on eating pork (carrier of parasites and diseases which transfer to humans) and using one hand to wash and the other to eat were eminently sensible in their time but in much of the world are no longer relevant.]

    From the time of formation of the religious branches there have been an enormous number of additions to the religious writings. So much so that the organised Christian religions in Europe had to dratically trim down the paperwork and there are a lot of lost Gospels.

    Religion has been used as a tool of the mighty to keep the population in check (not sure that Jesus preached the Divine Right of Kings, for example) and there is a long history of abuse of religious power, and of organised religion not following the original teachings. For a “Christian” example, again I am not sure that Jesus taught the principles behind the Spanish Inquisition nor behind more recent concealment (and practice) of sexual abuse of minors by clerics.

    Those who consider themselves “Christian Fundamentalists” yet preach “an eye for an eye” instead of “turn the other cheek” seem to have missed the point that they are not following the teachings of Christ at all, but the Judaism enshrined in the Old Testament with the Lord destroying the Assyrians, casting down the walls of Jericoh, killing all the first born sons in order to preserve those of the “true faith” at the expense of the unbelievers. So they are using a convenient and powerful religious label to justify their point of view (can’t argue – God said so) but are absolutely not following the teachings of Christ.

    TL;DR – religious writings following on from the original declarations by Prophets/Messiahs tend to be there to support the immediate aims and benefit the writers and may not reflect the stated views of the founders of the religion.

    What I think I am seeing is various proponents of Islam justifying their violent, aggressive, destructive behaviour by quoting religion instead of admitting that they just want to kill people to gain more power. Much as the so-called Christian nations have done over the last Millenium or so. This doesn’t mean that Islam is a bad religion – just that it is being used as an excuse for bad people to do bad things.

    Organised Religion (especially CofE) has become marginalised in Western Europe and more (dare I say) civilised behaviour is taking hold, where Human Rights are more important that religious teachings filtered through religious organisations with their own agendas. So there are less instances of extreme state violence against citizens based on “heresy” and dictated by the religious hierarchy and more government by concensus.

    We first worlders have in general a soft and comfortable life compared to those struggling to survive in Africa and the Middle East. Their current behaviour is in many ways a reflection of how we behaved when times were much more harsh.

    So to drag myself back to the original topic from a rant against organised religion I see no reason that a Muslim or a Jew should not be head of any state including the US. I would be immensely cheered if a true Christian Fundamentalist (that is, following the four original Gospels of the New Testament) was in charge of a state. Although the suggestion that s/he should “give all your money to the poor and follow me” would probably rule out all the current contenders.

  26. So Much For Subtlety

    David Downunder – “In my un-scholarly view the issue isn’t religion but organised religion.”

    You know, maybe I am just tired, and I certainly don’t want to come across as rude, but I wondering why you think this Big Boy’s Book of Crayon Colouring version of the world’s religious history was of any interest to anyone else?

    It is not as if Islam is actually all that organised. What is more important, organised religions are usually run by committees of older men, who keep the younger men under tight control, and hence they tend not to behead anyone. The Presbyterians for instance. Islam specifically lacks such committees and what it does have in the Middle East is invariably pro-whatever government is in power and not all that fond of radicals.

    “Much of the original teaching codified correct social behaviour, genetic, personal and food hygeine. All things designed to improve the lot of the people being instructed.”

    You see? Infantile. How does being stoned for adultery improve the lot of anyone?

    “For a “Christian” example, again I am not sure that Jesus taught the principles behind the Spanish Inquisition nor behind more recent concealment (and practice) of sexual abuse of minors by clerics.”

    There has been no concealment or practice of sexual abuse of minors by clerics. At least no more than anyone else. But again – tell me precisely what are your qualifications for lecturing us all on the original meaning of Jesus Christ’s thoughts? You go to Church on a regular basis? You speak Aramaic?

    Or are you just spouting the same trite cliches every other Arts graduate does?

    “Those who consider themselves “Christian Fundamentalists” yet preach “an eye for an eye” instead of “turn the other cheek” seem to have missed the point that they are not following the teachings of Christ at all, but the Judaism enshrined in the Old Testament with the Lord destroying the Assyrians, casting down the walls of Jericoh, killing all the first born sons in order to preserve those of the “true faith” at the expense of the unbelievers.”

    So you accept there is a fundamental difference between Christianity and Judaism given Judaism is a violent and bloody religion do you? You don’t think that perhaps, you know, Christians know their Bible better than you do and they have thought about these issues? That they do, in fact, understand what they are doing better than you do?

    Why do you think this is not unforgivably arrogant?

    Also, of course, I would love for you to point out a single Christian who preaches an eye for an eye. Just one.

    “So they are using a convenient and powerful religious label to justify their point of view (can’t argue – God said so) but are absolutely not following the teachings of Christ.”

    Says the bloke who used to chat to Jesus on a regular basis and so is entitle to hold an opinion and lecture the rest of the planet from the comfort of his recliner.

    “What I think I am seeing is various proponents of Islam justifying their violent, aggressive, destructive behaviour by quoting religion instead of admitting that they just want to kill people to gain more power.”

    Actually they pretty much claim both. Which you would know if, for instance, you actually knew anything about what anyone believer rather than relying on the same tired leftist cliches.

    “Much as the so-called Christian nations have done over the last Millenium or so. This doesn’t mean that Islam is a bad religion – just that it is being used as an excuse for bad people to do bad things.”

    Just what you thought this sermon could not get any more banal.

    “Organised Religion (especially CofE) has become marginalised in Western Europe and more (dare I say) civilised behaviour is taking hold, where Human Rights are more important that religious teachings filtered through religious organisations with their own agendas.”

    Because, of course, once the Christians lost power in Germany and the atheists took over, the human rights situation of Jews, Gays, Communists and so on just improved so much.

    “So there are less instances of extreme state violence against citizens based on “heresy” and dictated by the religious hierarchy and more government by concensus.”

    Actually no. We still have heresy trials and if anything they have become more intrusive and searching.

    “I would be immensely cheered if a true Christian Fundamentalist (that is, following the four original Gospels of the New Testament) was in charge of a state.”

    Because, of course, someone whose entire knowledge of Christianity comes from watching the BBC is perfectly placed to lecture actual real Christians and what Christianity means.

    “Although the suggestion that s/he should “give all your money to the poor and follow me” would probably rule out all the current contenders.”

    Whatever else you can say about John Paul II, that is pretty much what he did. I would support John Paul II, if he wasn’t, you know, dead, for President. Would you?

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