Ben Carson on Monday night sought to clarify — but didn’t back down from — his controversial comments that he would not support a Muslim as president, declaring “I meant exactly what I said.”
In a post on his official Facebook page, Carson reiterated the comments he made to NBC’s Chuck Todd on Sunday that he would be uncomfortable with a Muslim in the White House because of certain tenets of Sharia Law, the legal system for followers of Islam.
“Those Republicans that take issue with my position are amazing,” Carson wrote. “Under Islamic Law, homosexuals – men and women alike – must be killed. Women must be subservient. And people following other religions must be killed.”
Carson acknowledged that “there are many peaceful Muslims who do not adhere to these beliefs.”
“But until these tenants are fully renounced,” he added, “I cannot advocate any Muslim candidate for President.”
His comments on NBC’s “Meet the Press” last weekend set off a firestorm of criticism from both sides of the aisle, prompting Democrats in particular to take sharp aim at the retired neurosurgeon and Republican presidential contender.
Many critics have pointed to the fact that though Carson is arguing that the Islamic religion is incompatible with the Constitution, that assertion itself is unconstitutional, as the Constitution bars a religious test for elected officials.
It was a rare moment of agreement for former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney and Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton, both of whom cited that portion of the Constitution in tweets responding to Carson.
“Of course, no religious test for the presidency–every faith adds to our national character,” Romney tweeted Monday night.
Clinton offered a similar point earlier. “Can a Muslim be President of the United States of America? In a word: Yes. Now let’s move on,” she said in a personal tweet that quoted the Constitution.
One of Carson’s main opponents in the fight for conservative support, Sen. Ted Cruz, put forth a more subtle rebuke of the retired neurosurgeon.
“You know, the Constitution specifies there shall be no religious test for public office and I am a constitutionalist,” he said.
But Carson insisted Monday night on “Hannity” that his opposition to a Muslim president had nothing to do with religion.
“I don’t care what religion or faith someone belongs to,” Carson said. “If they’re willing to subjugate that to the American way and to our Constitution, then I have no problem with that.”
Still, his refusal to budge on the issue comes as little surprise — he doubled down on them in aninterview with The Hill on Sunday, and his assertions about Shariah law are not uncommon in some conservative GOP circles.