Tennessee bill would make it a crime to practice Sharia law
Men pray on the street before the start of the American Muslim Day Parade last year in New York.
March 6th, 2011
01:59 PM ET

Tennessee bill would make it a crime to practice Sharia law

Editor's Note: CNN’s Soledad O’Brien chronicles the dramatic fight over the construction of a mosque in the heart of the Bible belt. “Unwelcome: The Muslims Next Door," airs March 27 at 8 p.m. ET.

Murfreesboro, Tennessee, has been the epicenter of a months-long battle over the construction of a new mosque in the Nashville suburb. It's one example of many concerning Muslims in America, and how cities and communities are responding to efforts to build Islamic places of worship.

That battle got fiercer when two state lawmakers, one representing Murfreesboro, introduced legislation that would make it a felony to practice Sharia law, which includes lessons found in the Quran, the holy book of Islam, and which can inform how Muslims live their everyday lives, including prayer rituals. Many Muslims consider Sharia law to outline basic tenets of living a moral life. What is Sharia law?

State Sen. Bill Ketron, R-Murfreesboro, and state Rep. Judd Matheny, R-Tullahoma, who are backing the same bill in the Senate and House, describe Sharia law as dangerous to U.S. national security, according to the Tennessean newspaper. The bill grants Tennessee's attorney general the power to investigate complaints about anyone who might be practicing Sharia law.

The possible punishment for practicing Sharia law is 15 years behind bars.

Last year, construction equipment on the site of a planned mosque in Murfreesboro was torched, and police suspect arson. Signs on the mosque property were vandalized with spray paint reading, "Not welcome." Two other proposed Islamic centers in Tennessee stoked much controversy last year.  A Crusaders' cross was spray-painted on the side of a Nashville mosque, next to the words, "Muslims go home." In Williamson County, not far from Murfreesboro, plans to build a mosque were quashed after residents complained a turn lane into the building would be too costly. The debate over a mosque near ground zero in New York is still raging. The U.S. Justice Department supports the Murfreesboro mosque.

Tennessee isn't the first state to consider anti-Sharia law legislation. Oklahoma passed a similar bill last year. This month Missouri House Speaker Steve Tilley said he would support a bill that "maintains that U.S. law shall take precedence in U.S. courts," according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Tilley referenced a case, frequently cited in the debate concerning the Oklahoma law, in which a New Jersey judge relied on Islamic law to rule in a case involving domestic violence.

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Filed under: Missouri • Oklahoma • Politics • St. Louis • Tennessee • U.S.
soundoff (972 Responses)

    why dowsn't anything rhymn with orange?

    March 6, 2011 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mary

      Are you my personal STALKER now , why are following me

      March 6, 2011 at 2:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mitchell

      Who said nothing can rhyme with it? Here i'll do it:

      Door hinge.

      March 6, 2011 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |

      Such is to be expected from the ignorant rednecks in Tennesse? It's from people like these that the Tea Party Movement is getting it's support! Such ignorance and hatred should itself be outlawed!!!

      March 6, 2011 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mmmmm

      Strange you would ask that...you eat orange peelings?

      March 6, 2011 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • ron

      2nd part of first amendment. or prohibit the free exercise thereof.

      March 6, 2011 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |

      @fakenutt the teaparty stuff you posting is so lame..

      March 6, 2011 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Fallowt

      "Forage" is pretty close, so is "cringe"

      March 6, 2011 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |

      i guess "oar hinge" might work...

      March 6, 2011 at 4:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dan


      Reynolds v. United States in 1879 established that religious duty is not an acceptable defense in criminal cases. In other words, if someone practicing Sharia law violates a law in Tennessee, they would be guilty and not protected by the free exercise clause of the first amendment.

      You can't kill people and claim that your religion forces you to as a defense.

      March 6, 2011 at 4:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • George

      Because you touch yourself.

      March 6, 2011 at 5:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brandon

      @ RUFFNUTT, you call people ignorant then you call Tennesseans rednecks. Do you even understand what Sharia law is?

      March 6, 2011 at 5:19 pm | Report abuse |

      YOU MEAN @fakenutt the imposter he hates the teaparty and like to post the same stupid stuff under evryones name...

      how i feel is it's kinda a waste of time and taxpayers money.. because i have yet to see someone stoned to death or given lashes for a crime.. Sharia law doesnt really apply when we already have our own laws in place... unless someone has an example of it being used..

      March 6, 2011 at 5:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • aacon

      Just as my white race brought themselves and their religion to North America to take the land away from the Indians,so can the Islam religion and it`s people who practice it.Islam is a religion of world conquest.It states all must die who will not convert or submit to it.That is a declration of war.Duh...All religions must be banned that practice a form of world conquest.Freedom also means freedom from religion.I know their is a creator,but I can see clear what is happening in human history in our times.Wake up people before Islam comes knocking at your door one at a time until they number so many it cannot be stopped.They already number a little over 1/3 of the world.Open your eyes and cast the demonic religion out while it still can be & your young.I LOVE YOU TENNESSEE !

      March 6, 2011 at 5:51 pm | Report abuse |

      SO THEY ARE JUST LIKE THE BORG!!! i knew it.. startrek ripped the borg off from islamic people..

      March 6, 2011 at 6:13 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Mary

    i just read the first paragraph , I know the law of America states that we are free to practice our religion. These laws being proposed are a direct iviolation on our rights that means ALL AMERICANS not just a certain group. Please ppl think before you speak , all religions have some extremist in them. This obviouly wont stand against the laws in America.

    March 6, 2011 at 2:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dede

      Your name is Mary? Since when do muslims have christian names?

      March 6, 2011 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Larry

      Sorry, Mary, but you missed the point – this has NOTHING to do with your daily life, but on how you are judged in courts of law throughout the United States.

      Sharia law has NO standing in America courts, and the extremist/fundamentalist Wahabist Muslims are pushing for it as an alternative. This is the United States of America, and American law will be followed.

      March 6, 2011 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Strawberry Burns

      I think what you are missing is that this is about people making a set of laws that are not US laws take precedence. There are Sharia courts here in America set up outside of our criminal justice system. People in the Muslim community who use these courts exclusively are bypassing the law of the land they live in when criminal activity is not reported to authorities but instead dealt with by these unauthorized courts.

      March 6, 2011 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Stephen

      I haven't actually read the law, but if people wish to take part in their own courts, then go for it! Catholic and Mormon church's do it! As long as these courts don't make any actions that violate the US law, then they are free to do as they please. Personally I am against almost all established religions for various reasons, but we must respect people's choices to live and believe as they wish unless they are infringing upon our rights!

      March 6, 2011 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jaclyn

      Re: Dede

      If you knew anything about Islam, we believe Mary is the mother of Jesus, our prophet.

      March 6, 2011 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • jazz

      freedom is one thing...taking over another's religion and crippling another country until it bends over backwards is something else. From what I hear(cant go on anything else ATM)[feel free to correct me] Sharia law is enforcement of Muslim's Hanurabi code or similar laws upon the US, not the code/creed they live by. Religious freedom is fine as long as it doesnt IMPOSE on another.(I know christianity has turned into this in recent years, whereas Wicca and Magick of all forms HAVE NOT.Its not about CONVERTS...its about FREEDOM.)

      Of course when most religions collapse due to this extremeist behavoir, well...who's responsible?? Its not Al-Queda. its OURSELVES.. This collapse is DUE soon. I dont know why or how, tho. I just know its coming.

      I dont agree..I think TN is taking appropriate action. I dont care if you need a prayer room or rug or wear funny muppet clothing and go about your life....dont IMPOSE on me in the process. Sure as hell dont start violence on behalf of religion or I have right to shoot point blank between the eyes.

      March 6, 2011 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kris

      All of you debating this are naive. Sharia law is not about 'follow these laws above any others'. Sharia law dictates dress (and whether you agree a woman should be required to keep their face covered or not doesn't make it against US law), prayer times, etc. Are you telling me we should send someone to prison because they pray 5 times a day because of their 'law'? Jehovah's Witness members are not allow to pledge allegiance to anything but God. Should we throw them in jail as a national security risk because they do not pledge allegiance to the US?

      March 6, 2011 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • P

      Jehovah's Witness members don't blow themselves up in crowded streets or fly planes into buildings either.

      March 6, 2011 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • SB

      The Tennessee Law is paranoid and unnecessary. If you choose to practice Sharia Law in the United States you can already be tried for abuse or assault in the case of corporal punishment ordered by a Sharia court, kid napping in the case of child custody (the age of discernment), fines and/or jail time for tax evasion related to unlicensed marriage (nikah / nikah mut‘ah), fines related to Islamic rules regarding inheritance that may be used to avoid state or federal taxes, federal lawsuits related to illegal taxation (zakat), etc... It seems to me the United States judicial system is robust enough to handle any practices of Islamic fundamentalism incongruous with existing federal and state law.

      March 6, 2011 at 4:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • fishfry001

      Actually they are not a violation because there can be only one law in this land. Practice your religion? Fine. The problem arises when you want to mesh your religion with law. That's a no-no, and you cannot supplant United States law, be it federal, state or local, with a religion-based law. In our western society that is a recipe for complete disaster. If Muslims want to come here, they have to assimilate as opposed to carving out pieces of our country for their own. Sharia Law facilitates such a division within our borders. it cannot be allowed.

      March 6, 2011 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cedar Rapids

      'Jehovah's Witness members don't blow themselves up in crowded streets or fly planes into buildings either.'
      Sharia law doesnt tell people to do it either.

      March 6, 2011 at 4:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Alaskan

      But they still do Jo ho's don't... And they leave my door step when I ask them.... Muslims call us pigs and throw stones..... See my comments below

      March 6, 2011 at 5:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bryan

      @Kris – Sharia law also dictates that woman should not be educated; however, it's required by United States law that all children go to school until the age of sixteen.

      March 6, 2011 at 5:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • WDrad

      We should also allow the beating of women too since that is found in the bible! I want my religious freedom to beat on chicks!

      March 6, 2011 at 5:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • skytag

      @Stephen: "I haven't actually read the law, but if people wish to take part in their own courts, then go for it! Catholic and Mormon church's do it!"

      Surely you can't be stupid enough to believe this, can you? I have yet to see anyone name an act or behavior this law would outlaw that isn't already against the law.

      March 9, 2011 at 1:53 am | Report abuse |
  3. Mmmmm

    We got it Tennessee! no sharia shee-ite shi here in the shenandoah bible belt

    March 6, 2011 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Mary

    I'm shocked ,how'd that happen , you know the law of the land or did i miss something hear

    March 6, 2011 at 2:18 pm | Report abuse |

    dear eather bunny... please bring me chocolate and some peeps

    March 6, 2011 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • DfromthePeg

      I don't know who the eather bunny is? Does he bring you ether?

      March 6, 2011 at 6:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mary

      I just took a drink of water when i read this and sprayed it all over the screen , thanks for the laugh

      March 6, 2011 at 6:09 pm | Report abuse |

      yes... sometimes if your good the ether bunny will take you to far away places...

      March 6, 2011 at 6:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mmmmm


      March 6, 2011 at 10:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • cameltooe

      Ohhh, I luv the peeps.....

      March 6, 2011 at 10:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • cameltooe

      Ohh how I luv peeps.....

      March 6, 2011 at 10:17 pm | Report abuse |
  6. esther

    I wonder when will we talk about the real enemies of freedom and human rights???? this is just like a smoke screen,we all know they used 9 11 to target muslims.And we know 911 whas an inside job. Im not a muslim my self,but i can andurstand that what the west are doing in muslim beliving coutries are scaring the muslims over to the Shia side perhaps..I just hink its un fear

    March 6, 2011 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mary

      Pls explain to me how 9 1 1 was an inside job , i haven't heard anything that makes sense

      March 6, 2011 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mark9988

      just plain silly

      March 6, 2011 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • g

      Wow, I just found out how far one's head actually can go up one's butt. sharia law is about killing women and girls with impunity.

      March 6, 2011 at 4:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • DeAguaDulce

      Well, "Esther" you say you're not a Muslim, but the way you use English certain suggests you come from that part of the planet.

      March 6, 2011 at 5:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • RIALgal

      It's the date 9/11 pronounced "nine eleven". 9 1 1 is "nine one one", the emergency number. We don't count one two three ... nine one zero, one one, so why in the world anyone confuses the two is beyond me. I once heard the story of a young child being told by a parent to dial nine eleven on the phone and the child replied that there's not an eleven on the phone dial. How old are you, by the way, two nine?

      March 6, 2011 at 5:14 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Eric of Reseda

    "Last year, construction equipment on the site of a planned mosque in Murfreesboro was torched, and police suspect arson." REALLY?!? The equipment was TORCHED and people may think it's arson?!? Wow. Good to know we have some Sherlock Holmes on the case...

    March 6, 2011 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Brenda

    Wow. I suggest learning to spell before posting to a public board. Just sayin'

    March 6, 2011 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kouli

      Knowing how to spell does not make you smart.As long as you can articulate your thoughs that even you can undestand is fine ,you moron.

      March 7, 2011 at 10:17 am | Report abuse |
    • ohshuddup

      all religions and nationalities come to the states to escape the stupidity in their homelands. This results in the CONFORMING of the individual to the laws, customs, and culture of THIS country. All have previously followed this formula, and are succeeding (Italians, Irish, Iberian, Ukranians, etc). Why are muslims still hanging onto the very issue from which they ran from? it seems to me that the intolerance inherent in their belief will not allow them to think about the fact that they can make change for the better.
      Step into the modern era, the waters fine

      March 7, 2011 at 11:47 am | Report abuse |
  9. Jo An

    Can the Baptist still 'handle snakes'...and not allow women to speak in church or cut their hair or wear make up or jewelry..that was what churches taught when I lived in Tennessee...even today, no woman can be ordained to be a 'preacher'...In Rockwood, Tennessee a high school program was held sponsored by all the churches in town. The First Baptist Church would not allow the minister of the First Christian Church to speak...SHE WAS A WOMAN...

    March 6, 2011 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • DeAguaDulce

      The snake handlers are not Baptists. They are a very small sect of Pentecostals, who are largely ostracised even from other Pentecostals. When you start out with such glaring inacurracies, it makes it hard to listen to anything you say after that.

      March 6, 2011 at 5:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Teri

      Sorry. Wrong religion. Baptists aren't the snake handlers. Baptists aren't the ones that don't allow their women to participate (that's the Church of Christ, which is a prevalent religion in TN).

      March 6, 2011 at 6:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Teri

      Oh, and it's the Church of God that doesn't allow women to wear pants or cut their hair. You'll mostly find those in E. TN.

      March 6, 2011 at 6:06 pm | Report abuse |
  10. USA#1

    let's hope this law goes through. We sure don't need Sharia practiced in the USA. That's what those Muslim's want to do.....slowly take over and we need to be smart enough to realize it and stop it before it starts. You are in the United States of America and you will follow the law of the land. NEVER SHARIA!!!

    March 6, 2011 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • chemist

      The law of the land includes freedom of religion!

      March 6, 2011 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • USA#1

      Chemist – freedom of Religion – no problem. Sharia – problem, huge problem!!

      March 6, 2011 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jason

      "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion NOR PROHIBITING FREE EXERCISE THEREOF..."

      March 6, 2011 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • CW

      Please provide proof that Muslims are trying to take over this country and not simply trying to live their lives in the land of the free.

      March 6, 2011 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • fishfry001

      @CW: The proof is that they don't want to assimilate and are pushing to have Sharia Law established in our country.

      March 6, 2011 at 4:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cedar Rapids

      Then I hope this bill does not just mention sharia but all religious groups attempting to place religious laws above the law of the land.

      March 6, 2011 at 4:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • g

      chemist this is not about religion

      March 6, 2011 at 4:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • steve harnack

      Ignorance on display for everyone to see. When someone asks for an example of ignorance they should be shown your comment with the following advisory: If you think like this your brain is in danger.

      March 6, 2011 at 6:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Johnny Muslim

      USA#1Do you anything about your own freakin country. Sounds like you work at some car dealership

      March 6, 2011 at 10:46 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Dennis

    Once again Tennessee lives up to its reputation of being a backward state full of Christian terrorists.

    March 6, 2011 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mmmmm

      amen for christian terrorist

      March 6, 2011 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mary

      See , even MMMM know's there is extrimists in every religion COME ON ppl THINK

      March 6, 2011 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mmmmm

      Mary Mary so contrary! your bifurcated tongue is repulsive! I do not like snakes.

      March 6, 2011 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mark9988

      Adherents to Sharia law are duty bound to destroy those who do not submit to it. This law is incompatible with the laws of the United States in that it BOTH 1) claims that it is exclusively correct and all other laws are false AND 2) requires adherents to exterminate the infidels. Most religions have characteristic 1 but Sharia is unique in characteristic 2.

      March 6, 2011 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mmmmm

      Mark that's why God has placed his blessing upon Isaac and shun Ishmael. The younger brother shall rule over the older...and don't you forget that!

      March 6, 2011 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mary

      @ mmmmm, i was agreeing with u , you must be the FAKE one , dirt bag

      March 6, 2011 at 4:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • mar1961

      Hey dennis, YOU FREAKIN IDIOT, what planet are you on, you dont see what they have done to europe, my uncle lives in bradford england and he says the infestation is so bad, you cant even go out for a walk around the streets anymore, the gov has ruined the whole land, there are places that the police dont go out of fear, so watch some news and get some education before you speak, and yes they are here to take over, not assimilate.

      March 6, 2011 at 4:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Johnny Muslim

      Of course the Klan originated from that state. I think Tennessee has one to many Walmarts and not enough libraries

      March 6, 2011 at 10:47 pm | Report abuse |
  12. johnny

    Why?. Are we as American so accepted of other people religion and when it comes to us practicing our Christian belief in other countries we are kill or persecuted. We want to accept everybody religion while giving up ours and that wrong., We either believe the Word Of God through Jesus Christ Our Lord or we don"t . If not ALLEY ALLEY IN FREE

    March 6, 2011 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tennessee = retarded

      Because of the stupid christian missionaries asking to be killed in other countries

      March 6, 2011 at 10:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Aarrgghh

      You say "our" and Christian" like all US citizens are catholic or something... you need an education

      March 7, 2011 at 7:59 am | Report abuse |

    musims are the evil do'ers now.. bush told me so...

    March 6, 2011 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Kelcy

    So does that mean that they have also criminalized the portions of US law that are in agreement with sharia law? So murder, theft, fraud, etc would no longer be against the law?

    And in a time of fiscal and job crisis this is the best use of these state legislators time?

    March 6, 2011 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Mary

    @ USA#1 , I am not for anyone controlling me or anyone else , i'm saying that all in the USA are free to practice the religion of their choice, to deny any one religion the same rights is the start of the end to the USA's doctrine

    March 6, 2011 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • USA#1

      Mary, Mary, Mary; Muslim's can practice their religion but when it comes to following the law, it is American law they will follow and no other. Go Tenn!! Pass this law and get er done and please show other states how it's done. You try taking a 1000 catholics and have them block the streets for their prayers and see how long it takes for the authorities to clear them out!! Everyone is afraid of the muslims – not TENN!!

      March 6, 2011 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mary

      You obviously didnt hear what i said , so let me try again , i said every religion has extremist , look at the catholic preists who sodimize little boys , the morons who take on multiple viwes , ect. Pls think about it not every one in 1 religion has the same way to walk or belives every think about that religion ALL RELIGIONS HAVE EXTREMISTS GO LOOK IT UP ALL DO

      March 6, 2011 at 3:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • rue morgue

      Sharia is *not extremist* law for Muslems. It it *main stream* law. What is it you don't understand?

      March 6, 2011 at 10:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Aarrgghh

      rue: the oppression of women is standard catholic law as well. So is the praise for the murder of abortion doctors. It is you who does not comprehend the point. No law shall be made restricting someones religious belief in this country and also, US law take precedence over ANY religions law ALREADY. no need for this fear promoting, grandstanding bull

      March 7, 2011 at 8:03 am | Report abuse |
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