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. LivinginVA

    If this bill is passes, I'd like to suggest that all of the restrictions on the sale of alcohol conform to Sharia Law therefore must be rescinded.

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

      And public nudity laws, too!

      March 6, 2011 at 8:47 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Jeremy Griffin

    Sometimes in the mornings, after I have my coffee, I like to see how long I can keep from pooping, even when it's almost bursting out, and so when I finally do go, it's like the best poop ever.

    March 6, 2011 at 8:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • ls

      You. Are. The. MAN.

      March 6, 2011 at 10:33 pm | Report abuse |
  3. ricksok1

    Just some good ole boys always meaning some harm. Beats all you ever saw
    been in trouble with law since their great grandpappies were born.
    Joining the Klan, lynching a few please let's not ask a thing about their IQ.

    March 6, 2011 at 8:39 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Jeremy Griffin

    Did you know that of all mammals, the gorilla has one of the tiniest penises? It averages about 3 inches.

    March 6, 2011 at 8:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Paul

      Wow that's bigge than yours I bet!

      March 6, 2011 at 8:49 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Tomm

    Everyone seems to speak of the Truth but as it stands, NO Religion, in the world, knows the TRUTH!
    Mark Twain, Henry Ford, Luther Burbank and many others (great Americans) knew more about the
    TRUTH than so many of today!

    March 6, 2011 at 8:44 pm | Report abuse |
  6. MikeH

    Easy - just ignore them.

    March 6, 2011 at 8:46 pm | Report abuse |
  7. L64

    I wonder how many of the wome actually locked into the islamic system here even know that those actions are illegal here, or if they would have any faith in being supported if they defied it?

    March 6, 2011 at 8:46 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Paul

    Got new for you folks, conservatives in this country are as bad, if not worse, than the muslim terrorists.

    March 6, 2011 at 8:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Frank

      Thank you,Paul. How true that is!!!

      March 6, 2011 at 11:03 pm | Report abuse |
  9. KDW31

    US law already trumps Sharia law and all other religious laws that are in conflict with it. The case that everyone keeps sighting was overturned on appeal and it has been generally stated by those in the judiciary that the original judge made a very poor ruling. There has not been one case anywhere in the country where someone was not convicted of a crime due to practicing parts of Sharia law that are in conflict with the laws of the US. There is no need for this legislation and all it is is fear mongering and xenophobia.

    March 6, 2011 at 8:52 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Ike


    Do we really need a new law to arrest someone for stoning a woman or cutting off a thief's hands? Does anyone believe those things aren't illegal, and punishable by at least 15 years in jail already? Are those really the things that are going to be targetted by this new law?

    March 6, 2011 at 8:52 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Miguel

    Excellent, Sharia law or for that matter ANY religious law (a legal system that is judged by priests, rabbis, imams, etc) that would try to trump the legal system local to federal – should be banned. I would guess that even if passed, it would only be enforced for mostly egregious acts portrayed in that law (e.g. saying a woman needs to be stoned, or similar harsh punishment). Thanks Tennessee and Oklahoma...

    No need for any beleivers to try to defend the barbaric portions of Sharia law, like the parts involving stoning, or how an honor killing would be justified for such and such an offense.

    Sorry – we don;t have Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Buddist etc law in the country as a basis for legal – issues, judgements or punishments. No one in the US system should even dignify any attempt to use Sharia law as a defense for anything – with anything but complete rejection of such defenses and an outright ban of the practice of Sharia law, and prosecute any Imam or other figure who tries to.

    March 6, 2011 at 8:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • LivinginVA

      You are right, NO religious law should trump US Civil Law. Fortunately, it already doesn't. There does not need to be new law stating it.

      As far as your comment "I would guess that even if passed, it would only be enforced for mostly egregious acts portrayed in that law". That's not what the law says. There is NOTHING in this law that implies a policeman can't arrest any Muslim at prayer (which is dictated by Sharia law) or that a DA couldn't prosecute for it.

      March 6, 2011 at 9:01 pm | Report abuse |
  12. rhino4362

    What we should do is outlaw what ever religion the tea baggers are drinking from, I heard some pretty insane beliefs coming from their mouth. I use to remember a country that had a consitution for all the people but now it only applies to the wealthy and the tea nuts. the very people that hand out consitution bibles like water have not real concept what is is about.

    March 6, 2011 at 8:52 pm | Report abuse |
  13. leeintulsa

    I'm just glad another state wants to look like an idiot with this law. From what I hear, this stupid, redundant law is being sued in Oklahoma. Finally, someone else so the world isn't laughing at us alone.

    Killing people is already illegal here. Whatever the perp claims is the reason doesn't really matter. Recently in New York, this very thing happened, and he's never going to see the light of day again. We don't need yet another lame law aimed at only some Americans. You religious nuts are really kind of embarassing sometimes..

    March 6, 2011 at 8:53 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Frank

    I think they should kill all fukkin Arabs

    March 6, 2011 at 8:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Frank

      Another Tea Partier using my name here. How do I know? His profanity just gave him away!!!

      March 6, 2011 at 11:06 pm | Report abuse |
  15. SiriusVH

    There are two opposed pitfalls here: stupid religious intolerance and idiotic political correctness. Both should be avoided.

    March 6, 2011 at 8:56 pm | Report abuse |
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