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. mechatronics

    Good for them for having some balls.

    March 6, 2011 at 10:56 pm | Report abuse |
  2. SJ

    seems like upperhand has got nothing but ignorance and profanity to counter fact based arguments. Excuses based on OT don't apply anymore is laughable at best.

    March 6, 2011 at 10:59 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Madison

    Another charade by a southern state legislature. And even more pathetic is watching Tennessee taxpayers "feeling good" about their taxpayers money been wasted in their very own faces. Since when is "Sharia Law" a pressing problem in Tennessee, and what are the chances that it ever will? Sorry TN taxpayers, but you have been "taken" for a ride...again!

    March 6, 2011 at 11:00 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Jonesy

    " It's not illegal to not put cheese on a burger, nor is it not illegal to stay married, but it IS AGAINST US law to murder someone."

    Sounds good, but bunk.

    I'll point out that the writer's two examples on the left are examples of what we'd consider the "VIOLATION", whereas the one on the right is an example of a "PUNISHMENT" for a violation. It is legal in the USA and many states therein for the state to murder someone in capital cases. It IS illegal for a priest, rabbi or imam to impose any form of punishment not invited and concented by the "perpetrator". Excepting of course that legal rights to cause any kind of injury are quite limited in societies like ours and consent to injury is not quite so easily given.

    So i think the division needs to be made between the "violations" that Sharia Law may want to make versus the prescribed punishments, which absolutely must be fully compliant with all US law. No muslim should be required to subject themselves to any punishment that contravenes the laws of the day. Anyone should be able to subject themselves to rules which amount to behavioural guidelines so long as they do not cause harm to themselves or others that would be considered illegal by US law.

    March 6, 2011 at 11:02 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Billy Davis

    Man these racist just don't quit. The basic tenets of our nation is separation of church and state. You can't make practicing any religion a crime. Such IDIOTS!!!

    March 6, 2011 at 11:18 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Calvin Hobbes

    We should make the Tennessee bill a federal law.

    March 6, 2011 at 11:21 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Dick Richard

    It's funny how these morons are using a book that is pure fairy tales. It was written to control the people. The Easter Bunny is going to impose his law next. Down with religion!

    March 6, 2011 at 11:22 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Elvis Mohammad

    This thread is insane! Muslim Joe, Johnny Muslim, Elvis Jesus, Tennessee=Retarded,Allah....you guys have lost it!

    March 6, 2011 at 11:22 pm | Report abuse |
  9. publius enigma

    Basically the law is legislating against the muslim religions which is against the 1st amendment. Republicans should repudiate these two legislators.

    March 6, 2011 at 11:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Madison

      And lose the next election because their ignorant "base" don't like them anymore? That will be the day...

      March 6, 2011 at 11:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • LivinginVA

      The real irony is that Muslims supported Bush, partly because they tend to be socially conservative. They hold the same views on MANY topics as Fundamentalist Christians.

      March 7, 2011 at 10:34 am | Report abuse |
  10. SharkMan2

    "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." Not to mention that the aspects of Sharia law that these idiots are trying to use to stoke the fear machine are already illegal in the US.

    March 6, 2011 at 11:23 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Republicans hate others

    Don't these Republican legislators have anything better to do? By creating division and hatred towards minorities these men are trying to avoid the job they were elected to do. The reason? They have NO IDEA how to help Tennesee. All they know how to do is create fear, anxiety and division. This is the SAME tactic that is being used against illegals from Mexico and other Latin countries. Why don't they concentrate on JOBS, ECONOMY, the ENVIRONMENT??? Without help on these issues it won't matter who does what to whom, the USA will sink and everyone will drown.

    March 6, 2011 at 11:33 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Scott from NH

    My grandfather escaped the pogroms in Russia to come to this country for religious freedom. He then spent his entire career in the military fighting to preserve the religious liberty and freedom that you want to throw away.

    March 6, 2011 at 11:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • allen

      You need to find a different state,or better yet...a different country to welcome your muzzie buddies into.New hampshire is a good,stable state without all the BS that places like mass,cali etc suffer from for a reason!! You actually are a better fit for 1 of these states.Need help packing?

      March 7, 2011 at 7:41 am | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      Hello Scott – Muslims don't believe in religious freedom. You either convert to Islam or are killed. Stopping them is preserving religious freedom.

      March 7, 2011 at 12:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Peter

      The christians used to have those same recruitment practices

      March 7, 2011 at 12:51 pm | Report abuse |
  13. steve

    About time our government gets some balls. This is America not Africa we practice our bible not one from another country. And you ask why we get mad at people that move to our country.. Want our rights then act like an AMERICAN!

    March 6, 2011 at 11:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sarah in Texas

      Steve, clearly you are a very intelligent person...

      March 6, 2011 at 11:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • skarphace

      @steve: so you are saying that the bible is from this country? That is only true if you are a Mormon, and you are talking about the books 'discovered' by Joe Smith.

      March 7, 2011 at 1:24 am | Report abuse |
    • RG-Tex


      Ole Irish boy, are you?
      Go, get an education.

      March 7, 2011 at 10:20 am | Report abuse |
    • Wombat

      Hey now.. I'm Irish and hate christianity as much as islam and every other religion that stifles scientific progress.

      March 28, 2011 at 11:29 am | Report abuse |
  14. Sarah in Texas

    A law making it a law that courts follow and enforce the law? Good thinking.

    March 6, 2011 at 11:41 pm | Report abuse |
  15. StudiedReligeon

    The United States was founded on the principles of freedom of religion and this bill is direct conflict with this. While Sharia law may not be for everyone, it is ones right to choose to follow or not, and quite frankly, most of those rules are positive for society such as not drinking, not stealing, charity, etc...

    If they wanted to create a Bill in the spirit of the founding principles of our country: 1) People should be free to practice whatever religion they want, 2) We should ban any parts of any religion that are in conflict with National law, 3) We should ban forced religion (such as if someone wants to get out of a religion and is not allowed to). There are numerous cases in which National law has superceded Religion; Mormons/Wives, Catholics/Contraception, etc...

    March 6, 2011 at 11:51 pm | Report abuse |
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