Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain speaks at a campaign rally in Murfreesboro, Tenn., on Thursday, July 14, 2011. Cain told reporters afterward that he opposes a planned mosque that has been the subject of protests and legal challenges. (AP Photo/Erik Schelzig) (AP)

Conservative activists confronted Cain over anti-Muslim stand

Despite being challenged in a private discussion, the former Godfather's Pizza executive doubled down on bigotry


Justin Elliott
July 18, 2011 11:55PM (UTC)

Herman Cain's latest anti-Muslim position -- his stated belief that Americans have a right to ban the building of mosque in their communities -- hasn't provoked a response from the rest of the Republican presidential field.

But it's worth noting that Cain's anti-Muslim comments have not gone entirely unchallenged in the conservative world. Earlier this year, a group of conservative leaders of different faiths -- Jewish, Christian and Muslim -- privately confronted Cain about his March statement that he would not hire a Muslim American to be in his cabinet, according to a conservative activist familiar with the discussion.

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They objected to his comments about hiring, explaining that each of their religious communities had faced discrimination at different times in American history. But Cain seemed unresponsive, saying he was not calling for discrimination and repeating his belief that he sees Islam as fundamentally different than other religions.

Following that confrontation as well as widespread public criticism of his position, Cain seemed to retreat a bit, saying he would only refuse to hire "terrorists," not Muslims generally.

But it's now clear, with his twice-stated opposition to construction of mosques, that Cain is fully embracing anti-Muslim bigotry.

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"It's a great insult to Americans of all faiths who are serving our country today on the front lines, including Muslim Americans," says the conservative activist. "Cain's latest stance regarding the ability of people to discriminate against houses of worship is against the Constitution -- both the First Amendment and private property rights. It's clear that Herman Cain has no understanding of the Constitution."


Justin Elliott

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

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