Tuesday, July 27, 2010
In a post on today's The Lede, Robert McKay reports that Tennessee’s lieutenant governor, Ron Ramsey, who hopes to win the Republican nomination for governor in next month's primary, was recently asked by a constituent to explain his position on the “threat that’s invading our country from the Muslims.” According to McKay, the Lieutenant Governor responded, “I’m all about freedom of religion,” then went on to cast doubt on Islam’s credentials as a religion by saying: "You could even argue whether being a Muslim is actually a religion or is it a nationality, way of life or cult, whatever you want to call it."
Mr. Ramsey’s comments about Islam were made on July 14, the same day as a demonstration against the planned construction of an Islamic center outside the town of Murfreesboro. According to a report in the Murfreesboro’s Daily News Journal, about five hundred people gathered to protest the new building, “but the majority of the crowd was already waiting, bearing signs that said, ‘I love my Muslim neighbors’ and ‘Freedom of religion.’ ”
On Monday, Mr. Ramsey responded to a request for comment from Evan McMorris-Santoro of Talking Points Memo by writing in an e-mail message, “My concern is that far too much of Islam has come to resemble a violent political philosophy more than peace-loving religion.”
He added, “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.”
Mr. Ramsey's statements are not isolated. Politicians like Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich have recently objected to plans for an Islamic center in Lower Manhattan, not far from the site of the World Trade Center.
According to a report by Maggie Hyde of the Religion News Service, one Florida church has even announced plans to commemorate the ninth anniversary of the attacks of September 11, 2001, with “International Burn a Quran Day.” Ms. Hyde explained:
The Dove World Outreach Center, a nondenominational church in Gainesville, has marked the date in previous years with protests against Islam. The church holds protests on other issues, such as homosexuality, same-sex marriage and abortion.
Church Pastor, Terry Jones, who is also the author of a book titled Islam is of the Devil, said protests are key to the mission of his church. “We feel, as Christians, one of our jobs is to warn,” says Pastor Jones. He opines that the goal of these and other protests are to give Muslims an opportunity to convert.
Stories like these are troubling. What have we come to, I wonder? Whatever happened to the notion of America being a melting pot for all peoples? Are these days history?