- The Washington Times - Monday, September 21, 2015

A chorus of condemnation, ranging from Ted Cruz and Lindsey Graham to the White House and Hillary Rodham Clinton fell upon Ben Carson on Monday over his statement that he would not favor electing a Muslim as U.S. president.

Mr. Cruz, Texas Republican and one of Mr. Carson’s rivals for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination was starkest in his condemnation, calling the retired neurosurgeon’s remarks inconsistent with the U.S. Constitution.

“You know, the Constitution specifies there shall be no religious test for public office and I am a constitutionalist,” the Texas Republican said at the taping of an Iowa Public Television program.

Mr. Carson sparked the furor on Sunday after declaring on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that he would “not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation. I absolutely would not agree with that.”

Mr. Carson did not say a Muslim cannot legally be president or that there should be a religious test for office, but he doubled down later in the evening, telling The Hill that belief in Islamic law is inconsistent with the U.S. Constitution.

“Muslims feel their religion is very much a part of your public life and what you do as a public official, and that’s inconsistent with our principles and our Constitution,” he said.

Mr. Graham, who also is seeking the Republican presidential nod, reacted to Mr. Carson’s remarks on Twitter by claiming the doctor “is not ready to be Commander-In-Chief. America is an idea, not owned by a particular religion.”

“[Mr. Carson] needs to apologize to American Muslims. He is a good doctor, but clearly not prepared to lead a great nation,” Mr. Graham added.

Democrats joined in. White House press secretary Josh Earnest spoke similarly to Mr. Cruz, saying Mr. Carson’s comments are “entirely inconsistent with the Constitution.”

“Ultimately, there will be consequences” from voters for Mr. Carson’s remarks, Mr. Earnest said.

Article VI of the U.S. Constitution reads, “No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office of public trust under the United States.”

Mrs. Clinton also found herself using the same constitutional argument as Mr. Cruz to discredit Mr. Carson’s remark.

“Can a Muslim be President of the United States of America? In a word: Yes. Now let’s move on,” tweeted Mrs. Clinton.

The post was signed “H” to indicate that Mrs. Clinton had typed the entry herself.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, an Indian-American, was more jovial, issuing a statement Monday both “disagreeing” with Mr. Carson and parrying the question by saying he was happy to “indulge the media for a moment and play their gotcha game” with his response.

“If you can find me a Muslim candidate who is a Republican, who will fight hard to protect religious liberty, who will respect the Judeo-Christian heritage of America, who will be committed to destroying [the Islamic State] and radical Islam, who will condemn cultures that treat women as second-class citizens and who will place their hand on the Bible and swear to uphold the Constitution, then yes, I will be happy to consider voting for him or her,” Mr. Jindal said.

He concluded: “If you can’t, I’ll settle for voting for a Christian governor from Louisiana.”

S.A. Miller contributed to this report.

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