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. RG-Tex

    Run for the hills, the Russians are coming, the Russians are coming!!

    March 7, 2011 at 9:47 am | Report abuse |
  2. Realistic

    I have no problem with anyone practicing their faith but remember our laws supersedes your book of faith when it comes to applying our laws. Our prejudices has been part of our fiber for a very long time and seems nothing has changed. People we prejudice a against the Italians, the Irish, the Jews, and on and on. Eventually this prejudice towards the Muslims will be taken over by another prejudice. Right now , its the Muslims turn because all others had had their time. Suck it up Muslims and fight a good fight but this too shall pass. Before you know it, you will be replaced and we will focus our prejudice on another race or something else related to that race, its not personal its just the way we are.

    March 7, 2011 at 9:55 am | Report abuse |
  3. WVlady63

    HOORAY FOR TENNESSEE!!! ALRIGHT AMERICANS, LETS FALL IN BEHIND THEM AND SUPPORT THEM!!! If "we the people" don't start standing up for ourselves and America, AMERICA WILL BE RUN BY FOREIGNERS!!! If you think that is politically incorrect, THANK YOU!!! Unless the bleeding-heart-liberals wake up, they are going to see what their years of liberalism is doing to our country!!! SHARIA LAW IS NOT OUR LAWS!!! IF THESE FOREIGNERS WANT TO PRACTICE SHARIA LAW, THEN THEY SHOULD GO BACK TO WHERE THEY COME FROM, NOW!!!!!! THIS IS AMERICA AND WE PRACTICE AMERICAN LAWS, NOT SHARIA LAWS!!!!

    March 7, 2011 at 9:56 am | Report abuse |
  4. cybexg

    What I want to know is what type of fool votes for a politician who advocates making some religious practices illegal while advocating other religious practices as a basis of government....oh...wait...I think I just described most of the GoP voters....

    March 7, 2011 at 10:00 am | Report abuse |
    • HowieInBrissie


      March 7, 2011 at 10:04 am | Report abuse |
  5. HowieInBrissie

    Not only that, but the Jews killed Jesus and mutilate their little baby boys (oh that's right–most Americans do too so that makes it ok), Catholics worship idols, Hindus also ignorantly pray to statues as if that is going to accomplish anything as well as have a caste system, Mormons wrote their own Bible, while Fundamentalists dumbly believe that the earth is only some 6,000 years old. Have I offended enough of youse bigots yet?

    March 7, 2011 at 10:02 am | Report abuse |
  6. Q

    This is a good first step, but then we need to outlaw Islam completely and make it a capital offence, so we can use the death penalty. Then we can move on to the Hindies and all other worshipers of Satan. I would even go for a return to public burnings if found guilty. Praise Jesus!!!

    March 7, 2011 at 10:07 am | Report abuse |
  7. Katie

    Iit is unfortunate that it seems this is an either/or extreme argument. Some of the opponents of the law immediately jump to the decision to ban all religion....really? I no longer personally choose to follow an organized religion, but I would never remove that option from someone else in fact to ban all religion would make you as bad as the individuals who are choosing to outlaw Sharia Law. The truth is that yes maybe eventually mankind will move away from organized religion but you cannot force that decision on people it does not work. For those who are attacking Islam and Sharia Law, stating that this country was founded on christian principles do you know why our Christian predecessors came to this country? Do you remember the fact that they came here to avoid persecution for their faith? I agree there are parts of the Quran that promote violent and by modern standards unacceptable and extreme responses to various "transgressions" but MOST Muslims do not follow those just as MOST Christians and Jews do not follow the extreme portions of their doctrines. Yes there are countries and groups who have more overall control in some unstable countries in the Middle East and elsewhere that have chosen to enforce those extreme beliefs but this is the United States and most individuals who have come to this country have come here for our freedoms and because they believe in our country NOT to tear it down. For those of you who are attacking Islam I encourage you to try to meet an individual who practices the faith, you will most likely find they are not so different from yourself and their values will match your own in many ways. For those immediately attacking all religion know that faith and belief in something greater has time and time again brought out the best(and yes the worst as well) in people and that if we allow it to, if we say start to look at the core teachings of all religions, maybe we would see that religion at it's highest form, it's uncorrupted form gives us all something to strive for that is a little beyond where we are now.

    March 7, 2011 at 10:22 am | Report abuse |
  8. Johnny Law

    "Mind if we search your vehicle, sir? We have reason to believe you are practicing Sharia Law in there."

    March 7, 2011 at 10:35 am | Report abuse |
  9. Linda Lockwood

    Sharia law is different then Jewish and Christian law. Sharia law is truly set up as a legal system not a relgious one. Sharia law is being considered in courts today by Judges who believe the Sharia Law for muslims is ok to agree to for muslims. For example, in property disputes women have lost cases because a Judge will rule that is ok, since they are muslims, to go with Sharia law. This is what should be stopped from happening. Or for child custody based on age... A muslim man can say based on his religion that he should get custody of the kids and their have been Judges who have agreed to this...... It should be based on standards used for all citizens and residents of the US. I dont think it is against the religion to make sure that Judges and law enforcement do not consider Sharia Law.

    March 7, 2011 at 10:41 am | Report abuse |
    • LivinginVA

      Citations please. The only one I know of was overturned on appeal.

      March 7, 2011 at 10:59 am | Report abuse |
  10. The King

    Uh, the SCOTUS has already set a precedent regarding religious law and stated law. Where they conflict, stated law takes prioriy. So, as usual, all this fear mongering hullaballoo over nothing. Republicans need to either go back to school to learn or stop watching fox lies, prefereably both. Sick and tired of these right wing idiots making us look like a country of backwards, inbred, mentally challenged trailer trash.

    March 7, 2011 at 10:50 am | Report abuse |
    • LivinginVA

      Yes, indeed.

      March 7, 2011 at 11:04 am | Report abuse |
  11. zaglossus

    Haven't they got better things to do? You might as well make a law against illegal aliens (little green men from space, that is.)

    March 7, 2011 at 11:09 am | Report abuse |
  12. YoungBosda

    Some of us here in Murfreesboro are trying, vainly, to curb this insanity.
    We are like voices crying in the wilderness.
    BTW–15 years or so ago, another horrendous outcry came against the establishment of a Buddhist temple.

    March 7, 2011 at 11:12 am | Report abuse |
  13. mfs211

    I read the article and read some comments here. I am a muslim. What is Sharia law? I just practice islam. Which is the basics of life don't hurt other people, don't lie, don't cheat, no promiscuity, be good to family and friends. That's all I know in my little 9 to 5 soccer mom world. What is all this nonsense the media is talking about. I really do not understand at all!
    what the crazy wakkos of the world do what does that have to do with ME.

    March 7, 2011 at 11:14 am | Report abuse |
  14. Barking Alien

    Now how many muslims actually live in TN? I would think that with the high population of rednecks and bible thumpers that this would not be a popular destination for muslims. Surely TN has enough other problems then debating a silly law such as this.

    March 7, 2011 at 11:18 am | Report abuse |
  15. Rico

    U.S. law superceeds sharia law. If you live in the US and break a law, you are brought up on charges. No if, ands, or buts. We live by the law of the land, not the law of religion.

    March 7, 2011 at 11:19 am | Report abuse |
    • LivinginVA

      Which is exactly why this legislation is not necessary.

      March 7, 2011 at 11:34 am | Report abuse |
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