Republican presidential candidate and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson clarified remarks made over the weekend about whether or not he would support the election of a Muslim president, stating that if the candidate placed the U.S. Constitution over his religion, he would be willing to back them.
Carson initially drew criticism from some over his initial comments, which were made Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
“I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation. I absolutely would not agree with that,” he stated.
Carson had been asked by host Chuck Todd whether religion plays a factor in electing the nation’s leader.
“It depends on what that faith is,” he replied. “If it’s inconsistent with the values and principles of America, then, of course, it should matter. But if it fits within the realm of America and consistent with the Constitution, no problem.”
Todd then asked Carson whether he believes Islam is consistent with the Constitution.
“No, I don’t,” Carson responded. “I do not.”
However, he stated that he is more lenient when it comes to Muslims holding a position in Congress.
“Congress is a different story, but it depends on who that Muslim is and what their policies are, just like it depends on what anybody else is,” Carson explained. “If there’s somebody who is of any faith but they say things and their life has been consistent with things that will elevate this nation and make it possible for everybody to succeed and bring peace and harmony, then I’m with them.”
But on Monday, several of Carson’s Republican presidential co-runners criticized his comments, including Florida Senator Marco Rubio and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.
“I don’t believe anybody should be disqualified from the presidency because of their denomination or because of their faith,” Rubio stated.
“I don’t think religion should be a criteria for being president,” Bush concurred. “I just don’t think that we should be breaking ourselves up in our disparate parts. It’s just not something I’d adhere to, and frankly I don’t think it’s very productive for the conversation.”
On Monday, Carson took to Facebook to express frustration.
“Those Republicans that take issue with my position are amazing,” he wrote. “Under Islamic Law, homosexuals—men and women alike—must be killed. Women must be subservient. And people following other religions must be killed. I know that there are many peaceful Muslims who do not adhere to these beliefs. But until these tenants are fully renounced … I cannot advocate any Muslim candidate for president.”
Carson also further provided clarification to reporters Monday night and Tuesday, stating that if a Muslim places the Constitution above their religion and is willing to conform to the American way of life, he would be supportive of their election.
“We don’t put people at the head of our country whose faith might interfere with them carrying out the duties of the Constitution,” he stated. “If you’re a Christian and you’re running for president and you want to make this [country] into a theocracy, I’m not going to support you. I’m not going to advocate you being the president.”
“Now, if someone has a Muslim background, and they’re willing to reject those tenets and to accept the way of life that we have, and clearly will swear to place our Constitution above their religion, then of course they will be considered infidels and heretics, but at least I would then be quite willing to support them,” Carson explained.
“I don’t care what religion or faith someone belongs to. If they’re willing to subjugate that to the American way and to our Constitution, then I have no problem with that,” he said.