FILE - In this Friday, June 17, 2011 file photo, Republican presidential hopeful Herman Cain speaks at the Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans. Bolstered by support from his loyal radio talk-show audience and tea partyers, businessman Herman Cain has revved up mainstream conservatives, rising recently to third place in a poll of voters in Iowa, the leadoff caucus state. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File) (AP)

Herman Cain: Tear down this mosque!

The former pizza CEO says that building a Tennessee mosque is an infringement on freedom of religion

Justin Elliott
July 15, 2011 4:54PM (UTC)

Former Godfather's Pizza CEO Herman Cain brings Muslim-baiting back to the GOP campaign trail:

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. -- Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain opposes a planned Tennessee mosque that has been the subject of protests and legal challenges. ...

"It is an infringement and an abuse of our freedom of religion," he said. "And I don't agree with what's happening, because this isn't an innocent mosque." ...

"It is another example of why I believe in American laws and American courts," Cain said. "This is just another way to try to gradually sneak Shariah law into our laws, and I absolutely object to that."

The website for the Murfreesboro mosque is here. I've seen no compelling evidence that there is any kind of "abuse of freedom of religion" or sneaking of "Shariah law into our laws" associated with this project, so I've asked Cain's spokeswoman for elaboration on his comments and I will update this post if I hear back.


The project has been the center of intense controversy since last year. The construction site has been the subject of vandalism and arson. Opponents, including an extremist Christian Zionist group, also unsuccessfully tried to stop construction of the mosque through litigation.

Last year, in response to the opponents' lawsuit, the Department of Justice even filed an amicus brief arguing that, contra the opponents' claims, Islam is a religion, and that to deny construction permits to the mosque would violate basic principles of freedom of religion. So it's ironic that Cain is arguing that the builders of the mosque -- not the opponents -- are infringing freedom of religion.

Even the Anti-Defamation League, which notoriously came out against Park51 (the "ground zero mosque") has said that there is no reason the Murfreesboro project should not be built.


Justin Elliott

Justin Elliott is a reporter for ProPublica. You can follow him on Twitter @ElliottJustin

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