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.

Post by:
Filed under: Missouri • Oklahoma • Politics • St. Louis • Tennessee • U.S.
soundoff (972 Responses)
  1. JHA in Texas

    GOP majority legislature and GOP Governor are trying to distract national media, while they STRIP COLLECTIVE BARGAINING RIGHTS from public teachers like Wisconsin, Ohio and other GOP states. Their strategic aim is simple enough. Attack public unions, then private unions and weaken their treasuries. Disrupt union membership structure and make it hard to organize. GOP on Federal / State positions need to focus on JOBS, but for political goals are dragging their feet on JOB CREATION. Americans need jobs to feed their kids, pay their monthly bills and take them doctor when they need to go. Get your rear in gear Republicans: Jobs, Jobs, Jobs –pretend your government job and government paid insurance and benefits are on the line and your kids are hungry! Knock off this stupid religious political stunts!

    March 6, 2011 at 11:58 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Chuck Steak

    I got your Sharia law, right HERE!!

    March 6, 2011 at 11:58 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Mary

    I don't understand what is wrong with the US laws. What Sharia has that the US laws lack of in terms of freedom and democracy?!? If muslims do not intend to ever use this law, then why do they care? Why did they apealed it in OK if their intention is not to eventually try to install it? They say it's a matter of principals or something, and they do not intend to use it, but if that's really true, would you really care? What principle, to have the right to make something bad??? It's like, "No, I don't intend to bring Sharia to the US, but I'd like to know I can if later change my mind". From my personal experiences with Muslims and from what I see happening all around Europe and now in the US, I don't trust them. Now if you do, well, you'll get to my side later, I am 1000% absolutely positive of it, you're just naive now or playing cool, but wait. And as far as the muslims in the US go, become Americans for God's sake. U wanted to live in the West, now you're here, start enjoying the life that you couldn't enjoy back home. Follow what's good from your Quaran and the bad ignore it. Christians do the same with their Bible. Stand up against your extremists, show the non-muslims that you condemn those acts and that they don't act on behalf of you. If you did that, non-muslims around the world would be more accepting of you. I belive it is you to blame too, (the so called "moderate" muslims) for not showing us (the non-muslims) that you are with us and not with your extremists. If you keep keeping quite, the message you're sending is that you accept those acts of terror.

    March 7, 2011 at 12:04 am | Report abuse |
    • LivinginVA

      They are appealing it because Sharia Law includes the strictures regarding fasting, prayers, etc.

      March 7, 2011 at 7:41 am | Report abuse |
  4. State of Tennessee

    I'm proud of my representative Bill Ketron for sponsoring this bill. Everyone except the very few brain dead liberals and wannabe jihadists in this area support it whole heartedly. Democrats ran this state into the ground for the past 150 years. Republicans finally have control for only 2 months and the liberal wussies are having a hissey fit over every little thing that comes up. Let's see if I can remember how this goes now, since we have been hearing it repeated almost daily since the 2008 elections........To the few remaining Middle Tennessee liberals, a.k.a apoligists for Muslim terrorists and other anti-American elements: You idiots lost the election so sit down and shut up. You guys can't stand it because someone is in office that isn't like you. You're just a bunch of bass ackward racists.....I believe that about sums up the situation around here.

    March 7, 2011 at 12:10 am | Report abuse |
    • Kibbz

      Wow. I think your quote of "you can"t stand it because someone is in office that isn't like you" pretty much sums everything up about your comment. Hissy fit anyone? 😮

      March 7, 2011 at 4:29 am | Report abuse |
  5. oldzoom

    The skinny of it all is the seperation of church and state. Sharia law or christain law/values take a back seat to local, state and federal laws, so what's the problem? If you don't like it move to a different country.

    March 7, 2011 at 12:20 am | Report abuse |
  6. jazz92

    The islam religion is not the target. They can still pray 5 times a day and practice the peaceful parts of the religions but not the voilence parts. The beatings and killing of women. Killing the infidale is outlawed. The horrible parts of the religion is being banned.

    March 7, 2011 at 12:22 am | Report abuse |
    • LivinginVA

      That's not what the bill says. Sharia law includes the dictates on prayers, eating, fasting, giving to charity, etc.

      March 7, 2011 at 5:46 am | Report abuse |
  7. Only Thing Necessary For Evil to Triumph is Good Men Stand By and Do Nothing

    Y'all are hilarious, thanks for the show. Oh, just a thought...might want to read what the proposed bill actually says http://www.capitol.tn.gov/Bills/107/Bill/HB1353.pdf Also, looks like some of you are tools of a hard left spin campaign, explained here: http://ricochet.com/main-feed/What-Exactly-Would-the-Proposed-Tennessee-Anti-Shariah-Bill-Do

    March 7, 2011 at 12:34 am | Report abuse |
  8. Gregory

    Anyone who feels optimistic about the fate of the human race need only check in on these online comments and they will quickly lose all hope.

    Honestly, people... develop some intelligence and do it soon.

    There is no reason to pass a law outlawing Sharia law. The law of the land is the law of the land, period. There is no question of precedence here.

    Trying to cite Sharia law in a US court will get you nowhere. You might as well quote the bible as your defence for stoning someone to death. Do we need to pass a law saying that US laws take precedence over Christian law (whatever you might construe that to be)? Of course not. The laws of the state and the nation are the only law recognized. There is no need to outlaw Sharia law. If someone in the course of following sharia law, as they understand it, violates US local, state or federal law then they will be held to the same laws as anyone else.

    Is this actually difficult to understand? Evidently so.

    Now if someone introduces a bill to make Sharia law the law of the land.. THEN you can be concerned.

    But this bill has no purpose other then fear mongering and bigotry.

    And no I'm not a muslim.

    March 7, 2011 at 12:35 am | Report abuse |
  9. weston

    murfreesboro is NOT a suburb of nashville. please don't associate my city with this nonsense.

    March 7, 2011 at 12:36 am | Report abuse |
  10. JHA in Texas

    RESPONSE TO: STATE OF TENNESSEE :..............Gotta love those Republicans: .........WHY?.................
    1. Bush Tax Cuts for Wealthy(Unfunded -No pay as you go) -Stimulated / Created "0" jobs, added 3 trillion dollars to deficit
    2. War No. 01 – Iraqi Invasion started for Weapons Of Mass Destruction, Zero found, final reason for invasion-Sadam had intentions on WMD's, War was to cost Zero Dollars per Neo-Cons Cheney, Rumsfield, Warfield,Bennett, USA casualties 5000 KIA, 35,000 injured.
    3.War No. 02 – Afghanistan – started as No. 01, never fully manned up or equipment at begin to eliminate terrorist, so left for next President to escalate and finsih. Cost of two wars kept off the books, supplemental budget – several hundreds of billions of dollars.
    4. GOP Bush Prescription Drug legislation (Unfunded-No pay as you go) for Senior citizens added mega billions to deficit
    5.Worst financial disaster since Great Depression of 1939 , we have Big Busniess congressmen / Senators, lobbyists and Bush administration, Wall Street Investment Banks / firms and all financial speculators to thank.
    6. Bush TARP to fund big banks, save Wall Street so they can pass out huge salary increase and bonuses, AIG alone profited Goldman Sachs 24 billion dollars.
    7. American economy in the toilet, unemployment record high.

    Cost to American Taxpayer = PRICELESS! (We have just spent the future of our children, grandchildren and their kids.)
    Yes I agree with STATE OF TENNESSEE POSTING you have to love those wacky Republicans!

    March 7, 2011 at 12:42 am | Report abuse |
    • judge-mental

      uhh, they just extended the Bush tax cuts to everyone and lo and behold... job unempolyment rate dropped. the 787 billion dem admin bailout that would keep jobs or save jobs in the last 2 years has done what?

      March 7, 2011 at 4:34 am | Report abuse |
    • Aarrgghh

      Judge: those numbers were dropping already and this president has already added more jobs than the last clown did in 8 years. You should not take credit for things your party votes no against, like job creation. The 787 billion dollar bailout was paid back to below 25 billion, look it up. Bush let over 14 trillion out to banks interest free. Any thing your party has legislated has not yet gone into effect.

      March 7, 2011 at 7:38 am | Report abuse |
  11. Ron Jeremy

    Kosher laws ok but not Sharia?

    March 7, 2011 at 12:48 am | Report abuse |
    • Edwin

      Ron Jeremy: Kosher law would NOT be okay if this bill passes, because much of Kosher law is subsumed into Sharia law. For example, it would now be illegal to avoid seafood due to religious reasons (since this most definitely a part of Sharia law). Since the law cannot treat people differently based on their particular religion, I suspect a lot of Kosher Jews will have serious troubles in Tennessee if this passes.

      Then again, who am I kidding? Jews in Tennessee probably ALREADY have troubles...

      March 7, 2011 at 1:17 am | Report abuse |
    • LivinginVA

      Edwin: and all the restrictions on alcohol would have to go, too – they conform to Sharia Law.

      Those (and ones concerning abortion, strip joints, etc) were "imposed" on the US by Christianity. Seems to me the folks most vocal about changing the nation's laws to conform to their religion are right wing Christians.

      March 7, 2011 at 5:55 am | Report abuse |
  12. Ron Jeremy

    Let the persecution of minorities begin!

    March 7, 2011 at 12:49 am | Report abuse |
  13. Double Standards

    Deuteronomy. Nuff said. Guess we gotta banish them there Christians, too... Hypocrytes.

    March 7, 2011 at 12:52 am | Report abuse |
  14. Jay

    What a bunch of crap. Over reacting once again by idiot politicians.

    March 7, 2011 at 12:53 am | Report abuse |
  15. Edwin

    According to Sharia Law, it is legal for a muslim to help build churches, and it is not allowed to eat certain kinds of seafood. How will the Tennessee bill affect these parts of the Sharia Law?

    Since it makes it a crime to practice Sharia Law, it would become illegal for devout muslims to help build churches. It would also be illegal for them to say no to seafood - they would be forced by Tennessee law to eat it.

    This is the sort of idiocy that bills like this create. I saw one poster comment that Sharia Law allows for certain kinds of murder. I do not know about that, but I do know that murder is ALREADY a crime in Tennessee, so no new law is necessary to keep it illegal. Anyone who tells you differently is clearly ignorant of U.S. legal standards.

    March 7, 2011 at 1:14 am | Report abuse |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28