Fox News personalities defended comments by Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson that he “absolutely would not agree with” an American Muslim being elected president based on the conflated reasoning that a Muslim president is synonymous with violent Islamists and the Koran-based, fundamentalist system of “Sharia law.”
Ben Carson Says He “Absolutely Would Not Agree With” A Muslim Being Elected President
Ben Carson: An American President Should Be “Sworn In On A Stack Of Bibles, Not A Koran.” On the September 20 edition of NBC's Meet the Press, Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson said that he believed Islam was not consistent with the U.S. Constitution and “absolutely would not agree with” an American Muslim being elected president. In a follow-up interview with The Hill, Carson conflated being a Muslim with being an adherent of fundamentalist Sharia law, saying, “I do not believe Sharia is consistent with the Constitution of this country.” Carson clarified that he would make an exception if a Muslim running for office “publicly rejected all the tenants of Sharia,” but warned that some Islamic practices encourage Muslims to “lie to achieve [their] goals”:
Republican presidential hopeful Ben Carson is standing by his view that a Muslim should not be president of the United States, telling The Hill in an interview on Sunday that whoever takes the White House should be “sworn in on a stack of Bibles, not a Koran.”
“I do not believe Sharia is consistent with the Constitution of this country,” Carson said. “Muslims feel that their religion is very much a part of your public life and what you do as a public official, and that's inconsistent with our principles and our Constitution.”
Carson said that the only exception he'd make would be if the Muslim running for office “publicly rejected all the tenants of Sharia and lived a life consistent with that.”
“Then I wouldn't have any problem,” he said.
However, on several occasions Carson mentioned “Taqiya,” a practice in Shia Islam in which a Muslim can mislead nonbelievers about the nature of their faith to avoid persecution.
“Taqiya is a component of Shia that allows, and even encourages you to lie to achieve your goals,” Carson said. [The Hill, 9/20/15]
Fox News Figures Defend Carson's Comments, Also Conflate A Muslim President With Islamist-Enforced Sharia Law
Fox's Katie Pavlich Implies A Muslim President Would Enforce Sharia Law. On the September 21 edition of America's Newsroom, Fox contributor Katie Pavlich defended Carson's anti-Muslim argument, declaring that “Sharia law is certainly incompatible with the Constitution”:
KATIE PAVLICH: The issue is about Sharia law, and Sharia law certainly is incompatible with the Constitution of the United States, because it doesn't protect people equally like we believe in in the United States based on basic human rights, based on being able to do things equally, based on opportunity. And so, that is what Ben Carson is talking about. That is what Donald Trump is talking about. That is-- you know, they're blowing it into this big issue when it's a non-issue to start with. [Fox News, America's Newsroom, 9/21/15]
Fox & Friends Defends Carson's Comments That A Muslim Should Never Be President. On the September 21 edition of Fox & Friends, co-host Brian Kilmeade framed Carson's comments as part of an age-old debate, claiming that the Founding Fathers “were debating whether a Muslim should be a president back in the creation of our country.” Kilmeade and co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck then lamented that White House candidates are no longer allowed to give “honest answer[s]” without facing media backlash:
BRIAN KILMEADE: They were debating whether a Muslim should be a president back in the creation of our country. There's a whole book written on it. Back when you had Jefferson and Madison debating other great American founders about should a Jewish person be president? Should a Muslim person be president? You can have that discussion and not be labeled a racist, or a Zionist, or anything else. This is an open dialog. Why is everyone calling on everyone to apologize? It's an ultimate gotcha moment. You have 16 people in the race and everyone's just waiting on eggshells ...
ELISABETH HASSELBECK: But who is real? Who's the real person, you ask?
KILMEADE: Yeah. Can he just give an honest answer? And now there's going to be a fourth clarification. That's how he feels -- he would not vote for a Muslim. It doesn't mean they should not run. It doesn't mean the rest of America can't vote for a Muslim. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 9/21/15]
Fox Business' Varney: Islam Unites “Church And State, Or Mosque And State” And That Is Not “Consistent With The American Constitution.” On the September 21 edition of Fox Business' Varney & Co., host Stuart Varney defended Carson's statement that “Islam is not compatible with the Constitution,” claiming that “under Islam, church and state are combined. They are one. There is no separation.” After Fox legal analyst Andrew Napolitano argued that Carson's comments were “born of ignorance” and a misunderstanding of Sharia, Varney doubled down and said Carson's anti-Muslim comments were “perfectly valid”:
STUART VARNEY: Now, the statement was, “Islam is not compatible with the Constitution.” What do you make of that?
ANDREW NAPOLITANO: I think it's a statement born of ignorance, and I'm sorry to say that because I'm a fan of Dr. Carson. I've spent a lot of time with him, and spoken with him about a lot of things --
VARNEY: I'm jumping in there. Since when has Sharia Law been consistent with the American Constitution?
NAPOLITANO: Since when does a person in Islam have to follow Sharia Law? We're talking about an American in Islam, where there is no Sharia Law.
VARNEY: Because under Islam, church and state are combined. They are one. There is no separation.
NAPOLITANO: I don't know how Ben Carson could get into somebody else's heart. Just like he said, “Donald Trump is not a Christian.” How he could know that?
VARNEY: He's getting into somebody's religion. And if he knows that religion unites church and state, or mosque and state, however you wish to put it, I think he's perfectly valid to make that statement. [Fox Business Network, Varney & Co., 9/21/15]
Andrea Tantaros: People Should Follow Ben Carson's Lead And Say That Sharia “Is Not In Tradition With American Values.” On the September 21 edition of Outnumbered, co-host Andrea Tantaros defended Carson's comments that conflated a Muslim president with fundamentalist Sharia law, saying, “I'm sorry. He is right. It is not in tradition with American values” and “more people from the right and the left should start to stand up and say it”:
ANDREA TANTAROS: And Ben Carson, I do have to defend him a little bit. He did say that he doesn't believe that Sharia is consistent with the Constitution of this country. And while I agree, saying, 'all Muslims,' as Judge [Napolitano] points out, does open the door to a lot of criticism, Sharia isn't, I'm sorry. He is right. It is not in tradition with American values. And more people from the right and the left should start to stand up and say it. [Fox News Channel, Outnumbered, 9/21/2015]
CNN's Alisyn Camerota Clarifies What The Constitution Says About Religion And The Presidency
CNN's Alisyn Camerota Responds To Conservative Radio Host's Defense Of Carson With An Article Of The Constitution. On the September 21 edition of CNN's New Day, co-host Alisyn Camerota cited Article VI of the Constitution, “which says that anyone of any religion can serve in public office” to prove that it is actually “Dr. Carson's belief system,” not Islam, that “violates” the Constitution. (emphasis added):
ARMSTRONG WILLIAMS: Dr. Carson was asked his opinion. His opinion was, the timing, at this point he would not vote for a Muslim in the White House. This is why he's not a politician. This is why he's not trying to be politically correct. This is America. It's a place of freedom of speech.
ALISYN CAMEROTA: And freedom of religion.
WILLIAMS: You express what you believe and how you feel.
CAMEROTA: And freedom of religion.
WILLIAMS: This is not an issue -- it is not an issue of religion to Dr. Carson. This is an issue of one's belief system, on how they will govern. Your beliefs, what you believe in, how you look upon people, how you value people is dictated by what you believe.
CAMEROTA: Armstrong, let me read to you Article VI of the Constitution, which says that anyone of any religion can serve in public office. Here it is, “No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.” Dr. Carson's belief system violates that part of the Constitution. [CNN, New Day, 9/21/15]