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. Sweetpea

    And this from the same folks who desperately want to establish a Christian theocracy in the US. Problem is, they couldn't tell you what's actually in the Bible any more than they could tell you what Sharia law is.

    March 7, 2011 at 1:20 am | Report abuse |
  2. Jeff Frank - Ohio

    Whatever hits the fan will not be evenly distributed.

    March 7, 2011 at 1:25 am | Report abuse |
  3. Westerner

    I am getting sick and tired of people referring to these backward uneducated hicks from banjo country who walk around with bibles tapped to their foreheads as Christians Huackabee is a prime example, They know nothing of the teachings of Christ, just what they want. Its sad that Christianity has been so distorted by these biblethumper morons.

    March 7, 2011 at 1:31 am | Report abuse |
    • Aarrgghh

      psssst. Huckabee is a Mormon, just saying

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

      Aarrgghh: Either you are being sarcastic or you are confusing Huckabee (a Christian) with Romney (a Mormon).

      March 7, 2011 at 7:43 am | Report abuse |
  4. Mike Stephens

    am i the only person who sees this picture as very gay? what's with all the men worshiping each others ass? patriarchal religions make me ill.

    March 7, 2011 at 1:33 am | Report abuse |
  5. malochlic

    After 250 years, many people in this country are still ignorant and are biggots. I have seen and heard more Christians and other religious/nonreligous people killing each other in the USA than I have seen Muslims doing that in the USA. So, why are we targeting Muslims, instead, shouldn't we target the religious group(s) that commits the most crime??? Once you have the stats that Christians commit more crimes, than you biggots might change your point of view; if there's any hope left in you!

    March 7, 2011 at 1:39 am | Report abuse |
    • judge-mental

      there's a difference between killing somebody for their religion and killing for drugs, money, or tresspassing-I haven't been around 250 years, but most murders are in the name of money or love., not because the bible tells me so....

      March 7, 2011 at 4:25 am | Report abuse |
    • Aarrgghh

      Hey Judge: convert or kill the heathens ring a bell? I bet it does to our native American population. Do you think they believe that Muslims did that to them? How about the murder of abortion providers? In this country the religion that has committed murders for religious purposes is the Catholic one.

      March 7, 2011 at 7:44 am | Report abuse |
  6. Kaka

    What happened to ground zero mosque?!!!

    March 7, 2011 at 2:08 am | Report abuse |
  7. Chitown Jason

    Can't we all just get along?!!!!

    March 7, 2011 at 2:23 am | Report abuse |
  8. wake up!!!!

    What a laughable situation! Playing right into the terrorists plans. By outlawing Sharia, you're making it a bigger threat than it really is, and you're focusing attention on extremist Islam. Just what they wanted!!

    March 7, 2011 at 2:57 am | Report abuse |
  9. Ken Wood

    If you Muslims want to practice Sharia Law, you should go back to where you came from. We HAVE laws here in the United States. Which makes one wonder, WHY DID YOU COME TO THE US IN THE FIRST PLACE??? (legitimate question)...

    March 7, 2011 at 3:04 am | Report abuse |
    • Aarrgghh

      Yes we do have laws here, such as the freedom to practice any religion you want without laws against it or persecution for it. You do not appear to have gotten that memo.

      March 7, 2011 at 7:46 am | Report abuse |
    • LivinginVA

      Also, there have been Muslims living in US for centuries. Suggesting that they "go home" when many of them have been born and raised here is extremely offensive.

      March 7, 2011 at 7:49 am | Report abuse |
  10. Ken Wood

    The United States of America ALREADY has laws!!! We don't need anymore laws!!! If you want to have Sharia Law, go home and do what you want, but, DO NOT impose or attempt to impose your culture on US!!!

    March 7, 2011 at 3:07 am | Report abuse |
    • LivinginVA

      And the laws we have ALREADY prohibit the parts of Sharia Law that you find objectionable. You are right, we don't need any more laws.

      March 7, 2011 at 7:44 am | Report abuse |
    • Aarrgghh

      Yes do not attempt to force your beliefs and culture on us... Ken.

      March 7, 2011 at 7:47 am | Report abuse |
  11. aacon

    I would want parts of the Bible and Quarn both banned and any other' teaching 'book or otherwise that causes harm.For example in the Bible you have to depend on God to heal not a doctor,and some kids have been killed by parents not taking them to the doctor depending on God.The whole issue acrosss the boaard needs to be dealt with.It`s time.It`s overtime actually...

    March 7, 2011 at 3:21 am | Report abuse |
  12. Seriously

    Once again, the fine citizens of the south do their best to serve up some hillbilly justice. Way to live down the stereotype of being backwards and bigoted.

    March 7, 2011 at 3:49 am | Report abuse |
  13. David

    You cannot compare sharia law with any of the Old Testament laws. Old Testament law was replaced with the new in Christ Jesus which is the law of Grace. Using Old Testament law in comparison to Sharia law is invalid if you do not include the New Testament.

    March 7, 2011 at 4:47 am | Report abuse |
    • LivinginVA

      Jews don't include the NT. Besides, it's Leviticus that keeps getting quoted on the subject of gay rights.

      March 7, 2011 at 6:01 am | Report abuse |
    • Aarrgghh

      The new testament was the book used to convert the heathens, was it not? it oppressed women until US law over rode that Christian rule.. No religion's rules can supersede the laws of this country, period

      March 7, 2011 at 7:50 am | Report abuse |
  14. David

    It is not so much the Bible or the Koran that should be used as indicators in this argument. They have their place. However, to know the “truth” all you need do is study the “historical” spread of Islam and Shari law throughout the world. That would be more than enough. Humanity has proven time and time again that it does not learn from its history. Not even recent history. The history of the spread of Islam in the country of Lebanon would surprise you! Islam claims to be a sheep but he is only in costume. He’s a wolf!

    March 7, 2011 at 5:26 am | Report abuse |
    • Aarrgghh

      While you claim intelligence and are clearly a moron.

      March 7, 2011 at 7:52 am | Report abuse |
  15. John

    WHERE is the Sharia Law practiced in the US?


    March 7, 2011 at 5:51 am | Report abuse |
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