- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Saying people have overlooked his full statement about electing a Muslim to the White House, retired neurosurgeon and 2016 GOP presidential candidate Ben Carson said Tuesday he would support anyone regardless of their background if they put America and the U.S. Constitution ahead of their religious beliefs.

“I said I would support anyone, regardless of their background, if in fact they embrace American values and our Constitution and are willing to place that above their beliefs,” Mr. Carson told reporters in Ohio.

Asked why Muslims should have to denounce Sharia law, Mr. Carson said: “Because Sharia law is completely antithetical to Americanism — that’s why.”

He said he’s heard from a lot of Muslim-Americans in the past 24 hours who he’s worked with, trained and operated on, who said “we know you. We know exactly what you’re talking about.”

“We don’t have a theocracy, but there’s no question that our Constitution and our traditions have a Judeo-Christian base — there’s no question about that,” he said. “And I don’t think there’s any reason that we should deny that.

“But the First Amendment is very important,” he said. “Freedom of religion — it so happens that the majority of people in the country … do believe in Judeo-Christian values, and there’s no way that we should suppress their beliefs. And they should be able to live according to their faith.”

But he said the country should “never” have a theocracy and that he’d have a problem with supporting a Christian who believes in establishing one.

“It has nothing to do with being a Muslim,” he said. “That was the question that was specifically asked. If the question had been asked about a Christian and they had said, you know, ‘would you support a Christian who believes in establishing a theocracy?’ I would have said no. And then some people would say, ‘he’s against Christians.’ No — you have to be able to look at the context.

“The context is, as I said before that question was asked, anybody of any religious faith whatsoever — if they embrace American values and they place our Constitution at the top level above their religious beliefs — I have no problem with them,” he said. “I said that. It’s on the record. On NBC — on ‘Meet the Press.’ Did anybody pick up on that? Of course not. Because that wasn’t a juicy story, but that’s exactly what I said. That’s exactly what I meant.

“I don’t care what a person’s religious beliefs are or what their religious heritage is — if they embrace American culture, if they embrace our Constitution and are willing to place that above their religious beliefs, I have no problem with them,” he said. “I said that. Why is it impossible for people to hear that?”

On NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday, Mr. Carson was asked if a president’s faith should matter to voters.

“I guess it depends on what that faith is. If it’s inconsistent with the values and principles of America, then of course it should matter,” he said. “But if it fits within the realm of America and consistent with the Constitution, no problem.”

He was then asked if he believes Islam is consistent with the Constitution.

“No, I do not. I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation. I absolutely would not agree with that,” he said.

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