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)
  1. Blessed Geek

    HELP! The message of our lord jesus is not powerful enough to counter the muslim's message. Jesus has no power. We are unable to carry out the great commission. We, therefore, need to ban their religion – because jesus has no power over them. HELP!.

    March 6, 2011 at 7:59 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Richard

    Am I the only person that feels like this country is moving backwards?

    March 6, 2011 at 7:59 pm | Report abuse |
  3. smith

    i always hear "Muslims go home" wait a minute!!! my great-great-great grandparents were born in this country and they were all Christians but i chose a different path. so my question to you is, where is my home?
    the second comment i want to make is that "this sharia law thing" is nothing more than an scapegoat for a deliberate plan by anti-Muslim and racist groups to deprive the rights of the Muslims in this country. Muslims in this country represent less 1 percent and i honestly don't know how that can be a danger to the country. but the big irony is that the united state government spends billions of dollars around the globe in the name of establishing democracy and freeing people while it openly tolerates and supports anti-Muslim groups right here. it is unfortunate and it is time for wise people to rise up and defend their freedom because we are all into this, one way or another. God bless America.

    March 6, 2011 at 8:00 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Polecat

    Sharia law ain't so bad, women have too many rights in this country. They also take males jobs away and are gaining too much political power to boot. No pun intended. Bring on Sharia! Time to begin whipping those females back into submission. No pun intended. Beat me, whip me, and show me that you care will become our new slogan!

    March 6, 2011 at 8:00 pm | Report abuse |
  5. LocalJim

    What about orthodox Jews or a hasidic Jew. Do we ban their manner of practice. How about midnight mass? should that be a felony? Civil law trumps religious freedom. Good thing my freedom of speech is allowed so i can flip this and point to the pro-right gov't in some Tenn. borough wasting the peoples time in pointing out peoples cultural in differences in our beautiful land of freedom.

    March 6, 2011 at 8:02 pm | Report abuse |
  6. KAI

    Every religious doctrine has its extreme laws. People who oppose other religions are just too insecure about their own belief system. It boils down to people just don't want to think; either from laziness, mental illness or capacity. Overcoming the need to answer the hard questions with paranormal systems of belief are what will bring humanity to destruction Why can’t people realize that when you live you live and when you die you die and return to the universe and it makes something different out of your atoms? We are just a temporary compound of atoms, that is the afterlife and nothing else. Why is that idea so threatening?

    March 6, 2011 at 8:09 pm | Report abuse |
  7. albert

    People quoting the old testament have no clue as to what the Bible teaches. Laws, specifically the entire Mosaic law, ended when Jesus Christ came to the earth. To say that the Bible condones stoning and killing is to say that people don't know what the Bible teaches. Very sad indeed.

    March 6, 2011 at 8:20 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Brian

    Insane and racist. The tenants of Sharia law that violate US law are ALREADY illegal: executing adulterers, chopping the hands off thieves, etc. This law would make all of the rest of it illegal (prayer rules, etc.) which would effectively ban a type of islam. Any such law would eventually be overturned in the Supreme Court.

    March 6, 2011 at 8:21 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Lou

    This goes beyond the recent Oklahoma ballot which was overwhelmingly passed by a state full of imbeciles. Just goes to prove that Tennessee can out-retard just about anyone.

    March 6, 2011 at 8:21 pm | Report abuse |
  10. lance

    God bless the volunteer state!

    March 6, 2011 at 8:24 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Audrey

    Stoning people is already against the law. So is cutting off a person's hand. Praying 5x per day doesn't need to be.

    March 6, 2011 at 8:25 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Steve T

    More smokescreen drivel from the tea baggers who somehow believe this kind of nonsense is a priority.

    March 6, 2011 at 8:35 pm | Report abuse |
  13. L64

    Very true, Albert.

    March 6, 2011 at 8:36 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Larry

    This is good. I support it.

    March 6, 2011 at 8:37 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Cow

    If a religious law conflicting with American law...ie, beating wives then yes, it is still illegal.

    March 6, 2011 at 8:38 pm | Report abuse |
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