Cain continues walk-back of Muslim comments

Cain continues walk-back of Muslim comments

Denials come days before Cain’s Iowa appearance on arm of Vander Plaats

In less than two weeks, former Godfather’s Pizza chief executive Herman Cain will return to Iowa as a participant in a religious conservative group’s presidential lecture series. For now, however, he is traveling the nation as a GOP presidential candidate and speaking with conservative-friendly media outlets in hopes of lessening the damage his remarks concerning Muslims have caused.

On Tuesday, Cain appeared on out-going Fox News host Glenn Beck’s radio program, and reiterated his belief that earlier comments he had made about Muslims had been “misconstrued.”

“I immediately said, without thinking, ‘No, I would not be comfortable.’ I did not say that I would not have [Muslims] in my cabinet. If you look at my career, I have hired good people regardless of race, religion, sex gender, orientation and this kind of thing.”

When Cain was approached by a Think Progress blogger in Des Moines following a late March Conservative Principles Conference, however, he was very clear.

… Would you be comfortable appointing a Muslim, either in your cabinet or as a federal judge?

Cain: “No, I would not. And here’s why. There is this creeping attempt, there is this attempted to gradually ease Sharia law and the Muslim faith into our government. It does not belong in our government. … The question that was asked that ‘raised some questions’ and, as my grandfather said, ‘I does not care, I feel the way I feel.’ … “

The controversy also began in late March with an interview Cain gave to reporter Trevor Persaud of Christianity Today:

… When speaking about your battle with cancer at the Milner church, at one point, you indicate that you were a little uncomfortable when you found out that your surgeon’s name was Abdallah, until you found out he was a Lebanese Christian. So what’s your perspective on the role of Muslims in American society?

The role of Muslims in American society is for them to be allowed to practice their religion freely, which is part of our First Amendment. The role of Muslims in America is not to convert the rest of us to the Muslim religion. That I resent. Because we are a Judeo-Christian nation, from the fact that 85 percent of us are self-described Christians, or evangelicals, or practicing the Jewish faith. Eighty-five percent. One percent of the practicing religious believers in this country are Muslim.

And so I push back and reject them trying to convert the rest of us. And based upon the little knowledge that I have of the Muslim religion, you know, they have an objective to convert all infidels or kill them. Now, I know that there are some peaceful Muslims who don’t go around preaching or practicing that. Well, unfortunately, we can’t sit back and tolerate the radical ones simply because we know that there are some of them who don’t believe in that aspect of the Muslim religion. …

While referring to the “several crises facing this country,” Cain specifically took on what he perceives as a “moral” crisis, saying that such problems would need to “be solved in our families, our communities, and in our various religious institutions.” But then Cain clarified that he didn’t believe all religions had a role to play in combating the moral crisis by noting that “Christians, evangelicals, Jews, believers of all types when it comes to biblically-based religions, are going to have to step up more, and push back more, and not allow our Christian beliefs to be intimidated.”

And, roughly two weeks after speaking with Think Progress and the Christianity Today interview, Cain appeared on Bryan Fischer‘s radio program to further explain and assure the religious conservative talk show host and his audience that he was not afraid of being labeled a bigot for speaking the truth about his feelings regarding Muslims.

“I have been upfront, which ruffles some feathers, but remember, Bryan, being politically correct is not one of my strong points. I come at it straight from the heart and straight from the way I see it. And the comment that I made that became controversial, and that my staff keeps hoping will die, is that I wouldn’t have Muslims in my administration. And it’s real simple: The Constitution does not have room for sharia law. I want people who are going to believe and enforce the Constitution of the United States of America. And so I don’t have time, as President of the United States, to try and screen people based upon their religious beliefs — I really don’t care what your religious believes are, but I do know that most of the people of the Muslim faith, they believe in sharia law. And to introduce that element as part of an administration when we have all of these other issues, I think I have a right to say that I won’t.”

Watch the exchange with Fischer:

Fischer is the director of issue analysis for government and public policy for the controversial and anti-gay religious organization American Family Association, which was one of the key national organizations that bank-rolled the successful effort by Bob Vander Plaats, now heading The Family Leader, to oust three Iowa Supreme Court justices up for retention who took part in a unanimous decision that found a legislative ban on same-sex marriage to be in violation of Iowa’s equal protection clause.

Fischer insinuated on his blog in March that Muslims don’t have First Amendment rights.

When Cain returns to Iowa next month, he — like several other 2012 GOP hopefuls including Michele BachmannTim PawlentyRick Santorum, Ron Paul and, in July, Newt Gingrich — will appear beside Vander Plaats at a speaking event hosted and organized by The Family Leader, which continues to battle against the Iowa Judicial Branch, for a complete ban on all contraceptives and abortion services and for areturn of the unconstitutional ban on same-sex marriage. Cain is scheduled to speak on June 6 at Dordt College in Sioux Center, Pella Christian High School in Pella and the University of Iowa campus in Iowa City.

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