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. Eddie G

    OF COURSE US law should take precedence! Who could possibly question this?

    March 6, 2011 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
  2. jjww

    Wow, another state that contributes almost nothing to the GDP of the country focusing on nonsense. How about contributing to the tax income of the country rather than just being a burden and acting as though everyone should follow your self-righteous example.

    March 6, 2011 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
  3. John

    Take you stupid barbaric religion and shove it right up you a$$.......and btw your prophet was a pedophile of the lowest moral standard!! I spit on his grave!!!

    March 6, 2011 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • USA#1

      @John – Hey, don't hold back. Let us know how you really feel. LOL!

      March 6, 2011 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • John

      Good grief,would you mind not posting that Tea Party mumbo-jumbo under my name? If you want to display your stpidity,at least cut out the Tea Party lingo.

      March 6, 2011 at 4:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Aarrgghh

      Dont be so hard on the Catholics John, They can not help their hatred, their ignorance demands it.

      March 7, 2011 at 8:12 am | Report abuse |
  4. Strawberry Burns

    Wow! People, do you not see the leading nature of how this article is written? This is not about banning mosques, or the moral teachings of Sharia law. This is about one set of laws that are in place in our country being surpassed. The law that is introduced has nothing to do with the racism and everything to do with making sure our laws aren't disregarded. This is about our legal system and not racism.

    March 6, 2011 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brian

      Its amazing...my posts WONT be posted...but your ignorance can blaze trails throughout the web...hmmm.

      March 6, 2011 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mmmmm

      And put a cherry on top of that strawberry. sharia has no basis in American judicial processes...the nerve!

      March 6, 2011 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |

      That happens to some of my posts too,Brian. But these ignorant rednecks can post anything they want here and have shown,regardless of how stupid it is!

      March 6, 2011 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |

      @fakenutt go post yourself..

      March 6, 2011 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Akira

    What in the hell are you babbling about? If you're looking to debate about some loopy Zionist conspiracy theory, this ain't the place.

    March 6, 2011 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |

      i dont know... i went to the bank the other day... and when i looked into the back room wwhen the door open for a second.. i thought i seen a rabbi counting money..or marking it.. and he had a hat on his head that was plugged into the usb port on his computer.. like he was sending a signal out on the internet...

      March 6, 2011 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mary

      Ok Ruffnutt , lay down the BONG now the men in the white coats are here to help u

      March 6, 2011 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse |

      IT'S TO LATE!!! they got to you....

      the only cure is to listen to heavy metal and dance in the kitchen after you've spread jello all over it.. then with you left hand you touch you right arm and say.."circle circle dot dot...now i have my rabbi sho-t"

      March 6, 2011 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |

      Gee Phunnie boy,isn't this the same state where they held that famous "monkey trial" back in 1925? It goes to show how ignorant and far behind the times they are down there.

      March 6, 2011 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse |

      @fakenutt did the monkey steal a bananana?

      March 6, 2011 at 5:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Richard E

      Well y'ahl know they cover their bedroom winders with the Confederate flag, doncha?

      March 6, 2011 at 6:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • TN Mom

      ...1925...it's now 2011. Did you do anything stupid in your past? Were talking 86 years ago...

      March 6, 2011 at 10:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • faye

      agreed. lessons learned-moving forward in truth now with education and a humble spirit of our own brokenness and faults.

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

      And it is also the state where it is ok to murder your preacher husband while he is sleeping. Yes you may shoot him in the back with, is it a rifle or a shotgun, I forget? Then while you are on the witness stand, pull out a pair of hideous looking shoes from a Wal-mart bag and tell the jury how your dead husband made you parade around in them. You'll get time served and be on your merry way.

      It's a great state, really, it is.

      March 7, 2011 at 8:28 am | Report abuse |
    • dddd

      I'm from Detroit, and my wife and I moved to Nashville 3 years ago. While I don't agree that this legislation is a good idea, it is an uneducated generalization to say that everybody from TN is ignorant and "behind the times." Also, the Monkey Trial was an effort to raise awareness of the concept of evolution.

      March 7, 2011 at 12:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mary

      I feel like I should be paying u for the Entertainment , u should have your own blog that ppl pay u to make them laugh KEEP EM COMMING

      March 6, 2011 at 5:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • sure bob

      i think you might be alone on that one. but either way im glad you are finding some laughs.

      March 6, 2011 at 8:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Waterfront


      March 6, 2011 at 10:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • shawn

      ..I saw a rabbi...

      March 7, 2011 at 12:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Terry P

      The Muslims want to deflect the discussion to something other than what it is – just look at Iran and their modus operandi....

      March 6, 2011 at 4:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Quinapalus

      Those durn Muslims....always playing with our heads.

      March 6, 2011 at 6:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Johnny Muslim

      I hope you know your generalizing million and millions of people.

      March 6, 2011 at 10:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Edwin

      Terry P: umm, American muslims have no more control over the government of Iran than American christians have over the witchcraft executions in the western parts of Africa.

      If you admit you are in league with the pastors from Africa who execute children, then I suppose it is reasonable for you to believe that American muslims are in league with Iran's government. Otherwise, stop making such ludicrous arguments.

      March 7, 2011 at 1:22 am | Report abuse |
    • Havardfbl

      Click your heels three times and go back to the sand.

      March 7, 2011 at 12:29 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Alaskan

    Thank god people have nothing better to do than write on here about how unfair Ten. Is
    I for one am glad they are passing a law making it illegal for them to practice their LAWS (not religion) here... I mean how upset would you be if they came into your house and said it was against their law to sit on the couch, then behead you for it? Well I don't like it... Your here in america you live by our laws... Don't like it? Leave! Don't like where your from? Then stfu and deal with it.... It's the liberals that think everyone is special that is killing our country.... Don't like your states laws?! Move or vote! We all have a voice and my voice says Thank you for trying to pass a law that helps protect us just like AZ making illegal migrants illegal! What a concept!

    March 6, 2011 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • David

      There should be one bill passed that say that
      Then you can go practice whatever religion you want, as long as it doesn't violate the US laws.

      A problem with Islam, as well as MANY other religions is people trying to force their beliefs on everyone else. This means both making me follow a different law as well as excusing someone that does. Christians try to do the same thing by introducing bills that are driven almost entirely by heavy religious reasoning. No belief is more guilty of this than any other.

      This is also the reason why if Christians were to complain about not having prayer in schools, tell them sure you can have it. BUT everyone else has to be allowed to pray to whomever they choose as well. Highly doubtful many will go along with that.

      Law is law and if it's custom built for each person that demands it then there should be no law at all. Follow the laws of the country/state in which you live or GTFO.

      March 6, 2011 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • USA#1

      @Alaskan – THANK YOU! I COULDN'T HAVE SAID IT ANY BETTER. If you don't like our laws in the USA – GTFO!!

      March 6, 2011 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Aarrgghh

      that's right USA, including the law about respecting other peoples religious beliefs and not forcing yours on anyone else.

      March 7, 2011 at 8:15 am | Report abuse |
  7. bizzyb0ne017

    I would like to see Christian law made illegal asap. It is 10000x the threat to America that the bogey man known as Sharia Law is

    March 6, 2011 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mmmmm

      Christian principles has been the underlying basis for this country's viability and prosperity and its correction since its inception, you MORON!

      March 6, 2011 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Name*joe

      Yeah your right, it is a threat only because all the terrorists seem to be muslim. It would be great to change the laws then ur head can be lopped off for making a comment.

      March 6, 2011 at 3:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hard Justice

      Name*joe, Ted Kazinsky and Timothy McVeigh were Muslims?

      March 6, 2011 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • bizzyb0ne017

      No they haven't Mmmmm. Never have been, and the founders went out of the way to specify that our country had nothing to do with Christianity and the dangers of it. Nice try with your bs though.

      March 6, 2011 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • bizzyb0ne017

      Joe, the overwhelming majority of terrorist acts in America, in exponential amounts, have been by Christians not by Muslims. Keep being a bigot and hiding this truth from yourself.

      March 6, 2011 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Name*joe

      I did say seem...not are which leave some room for the idiots that still roam

      March 6, 2011 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mmmmm

      @no name Joe, love crushing your nuts any day, it's call freedom of speech...LOL!

      March 6, 2011 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mark9988

      @ HardJustice: They weren't Christians either

      March 6, 2011 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mmmmm

      Bizzybody sorry to burst you bubble our founding fathers weren't godless men and believe in inalienable rights from your comments you don't know what that means...look it up and stop trying to rewrite history they believe in the Creator read their writings!

      March 6, 2011 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Name*joe

      Mmmmmmmmm, crushing my nuts? Are you a hefty female? My comment was more or less agreeing with your post.

      March 6, 2011 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chris


      They were not godless men, not by any means. But were they christian as you would think of it? No. They were, for the most part, deists. They were humanists informed by the Enlightenment and for the most part, felt a large amount of the religious practices were silly.

      March 6, 2011 at 4:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mmmmm

      @Joe I apologized @chris I reject the Masonic diest theory as well, our prinicipkes are christian and not based on natural law try a again

      March 6, 2011 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chris


      It's not a theory. The deism label comes from their own writings. These writings are easily found – please read them and make up your own mind.

      March 6, 2011 at 5:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Waterfront

      I AGREE WITH Mmmmm ! They KNOW what they are talking about, GO Mmmmm, I'm by your side ! Your a Patriot and it shows. Lets Blaze this forum, Notice how the Demo-crap get so ANGRY, OMG this is amazing that this can get them SO, SO ANGRY. We'll we know they have NO self Control whats so ever.

      March 6, 2011 at 10:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Aarrgghh

      MMM it would appear that you are the moron. Our founding fathers could not disagree with you more.. This country was founded on freedom of religion not catholic in any way. Most of them were atheist or agnostic. Here is a link of their quotes on the subject. http://www.ecis.com/~alizard/founding-fathers-xtianity.html

      March 7, 2011 at 8:17 am | Report abuse |
    • Aarrgghh

      Thomas Jefferson said,
      "Christianity...(has become) the most perverted system that ever shone on
      man...Rogueries, absurdities and untruths were perpetrated upon the
      teachings of Jesus by a large band of dupes and imposters led by Paul, the
      first great corrupter of the teachings of Jesus."

      March 7, 2011 at 8:20 am | Report abuse |
  8. lgny

    This is all so silly. There is NO proposal to make Sharia law a replacement for US law. Hence, this is a law to protect the state against a non-existent threat. It's only purpose is to raise public fears of a religious takeover.

    March 6, 2011 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • pazke

      EXACTLY. This is nothing more than a scare tactic and a waste of time and money. I can't say I expected anything different from Tennessee and Oklahoma, though.

      March 6, 2011 at 4:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Waterfront

      wow a sensible person, thank god, cause there are VERY few sensible people on here.

      March 6, 2011 at 10:47 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Strawberry Burns


    How up to date are you on how Sharia based law is carried out in the countries many of these people come from? In particular it's treatment of women and female children. Maybe you should do some research before calling me ignorant.

    March 6, 2011 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Aarrgghh

      How up to date are you on the Catholic religions practice of those same exact things? Obviously not very. You know why that religion changed? Because the laws of the country they practiced in would no longer allow their persecution of women. Otherwise the Catholic religion would still be behaving exactly the same way as it had for centuries.

      March 7, 2011 at 8:23 am | Report abuse |
  10. Name*joe

    I can't believe that people could be liberal enough to allow people to have their own laws. Last time I checked if you came here you were going to be an american citizen. I'm getting tired of people coming over here and trying to change how we live so its more like their war torn country. I shouldn't have to change for them. Its sad that americans are weak and refused to stand up for ourselves and this country. Last time I checked the stars and stripes were still flying so we should still salute it, protect it, and live by the law of the land. If you don't like it and can't live by it then try canada. I hear they got great healthcare.

    March 6, 2011 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Alaskan

      liberals are like a slow cancer,
      Nothing good happens....
      Only complaints about how others are suffering.... How we need to change our ways to make others privates feel good... As long as their are two people on this planet there will always be happy and upset people, their will be winners and losers.... Quite trying to make everyone a winner you wasting our time and money.... If you like our laws stay... If you don't I hear Iran is a nice place in the summer....

      March 6, 2011 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Name*joe

      Libs r the same retards that give kids a trophy for participating instead of letting them experience a loss, learn from it, and get better. That's why the city I live near...is nothing but a big hand out. That's why the generation from wwII is the greatest, you won't see that again because the only time you see people fight is when their hand outs are taken away

      March 6, 2011 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      The problem is that the Tenn law is written so loosely as to prohibit individuals from practicing the ideas of sharia law in their own lives. No one is suggesting that sharia law overtake US law. If an individual wants to follow the dictates of sharia law in their own lives then there should be no law preventing it as long as it doesn't come into conflict with the laws of the United States. This law would prevent that. It would be like passing a law sagaint saying grace before a meal, taking communion, or prying the rosary.

      March 6, 2011 at 4:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Waytogo

      Alaskan, go back to playing on your ham radios.

      March 6, 2011 at 6:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Alaskan

      Why bother we just got this thing called the inter net.... It's a little easer to put your liberal panties in a knot now....

      They see me trolling... They be hating....

      I like how other people have stooped to personal name calling/insults here instead of commenting on the article at hand.... I at least put up a valid debate.... What did you bring waytogo? Oh yah your liberal ignorance.... (btw the natives up here still club seals and hunt whales what now?) sorr for the of topic guys.... Just to recap WAY TO GO TENN!

      March 6, 2011 at 7:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Aarrgghh

      And last time I checked being an american citizen was completely separated from what religion you practiced... You are free to bring your faith with you, just as our ancestors did when they fled persecution. You are a hate monger with a narrow view and limited understanding of what our rights actually are.

      March 7, 2011 at 8:26 am | Report abuse |
  11. enkay

    I am a Hindu, borni in India , lived there till 16 and emigrated to the US. In India, there are two sets of laws one for the Muslims (you could call it the Sharia law I guess) and another for the rest of the population. Under Sharia law, polygamy is allowed and this is used very effectively to increase the %age of Muslim population compared to the rest of the population. Eventually, there would be yet another carving out of that country along religious lines much likehow Pakistan was carved out as a 99% Muslim country. People in Tennesse and Oklahoma are doing the right thing by creating a bill outlawing Sharia law.Do we really want to see a Muslim nation carved out of the US in the long run ? Based on the experiences of other countries, the answer should be a resounding NO. When I took my oath of citizenship, I recited the pledge of allegiance which said, 1 Nation under God...not 2 or separate nations down the road. just my 2 cents.

    March 6, 2011 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • USA#1

      @enkay – now let's hope you have changed a few minds today or at least opened a few minds. Great post-thank you!

      March 6, 2011 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mary

      ok, i get it now , i just don't want my freedom of speech eroding, no i dont agree with the extremist view of ANY religion though , great to have u hear

      March 6, 2011 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Uhhh

      Happy to have you here, Enkay!

      March 6, 2011 at 11:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Aarrgghh

      It said 1 nation under god. it never said whos god. God is a generic term for whichever deity you choose to worship, or not. The name of the Catholic god is not "god" it is Jehovah or Yahweh. nowhere, anywhere does it say "one nation under Yahweh"

      March 7, 2011 at 8:29 am | Report abuse |
  12. Artos

    slippery slope here when does the American people have the right to say what religious practices are not ok. because i know that people would want Christmas outlawed in its form since that Holiday was taken from the pagans and they could see it as an constant insult to their beliefs.

    March 6, 2011 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |

    The ignorance of some of the people here is quite appalling,especially toward the Muslims and other religious groups. No wonder the right-wing politicians keep getting reelected time after time!!!

    March 6, 2011 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mary

      Amen Ruffnutt, jsut goes to show the kind of IQ the right wingers have 000000000

      March 6, 2011 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |

      good ol fakey post under so many names...

      March 6, 2011 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Alaskan

      Hmmm could it be because the last time I herd of the Muslims doing something it was a shooting at ft hood? Or maybe the times they have held us and other countries citizens hostage? Or maybe trying to blow up a plane with explosive boxers? Or how about the times square fail?
      If they would just quit complaining and help a little old lady across the street or battle illiteracy instead of "heathens" or maybe you know HELP PEOPLE INSTEAD OF TRYING TO KILL AND APRESS THEIR BELIEFS? maybe we wouldn't feel this way... I can't remember the last time I was stuck in a snow berm and a Muslim pulled up and said "let me help you out" or I was in line for a concert and the tickets sold out and a Muslim said "here have mine" or better yet found a cure for a sickness? Now if they just help instead of explode and behead/stone things maybe, just maybe we could get along.....

      March 6, 2011 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Ken

    First Sharia, then Mormon, then Baptist, then Jehovahs Witnesses, then Catholic, then Jewish. I guess when these idiots are done everyone can go back to whatever country they emigrated from. Native Americns will be very happy.


    March 6, 2011 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mary

      YA you all GET THE HE11 out of here

      March 6, 2011 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
  15. schuyler

    Are they not just doing what Islamic countries have done which they claim to hate. This legislation in Tennessee is also not just about Tennessee law taking precedence over sharia, but criminalizing religious practices in order to marginalize a religion. Some Islamic countries do the same thing to varying degrees. In America we are supposed to value freedom of expression and if we do not value this neither will our children. Furthermore, our children equipped with these prejudices will cause more pain for themselves and the world, and in 2055 we may, as a country, look like Iran, Afghanistan, or any other hate filled and war-torn country becuase of the seeds of hate we are planting now.

    March 6, 2011 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |

      Well said,schuyler. Thank you.

      March 6, 2011 at 5:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • USA#1

      @schuyler – Muslim's are certainly allowed to practice their religion. Please, everyone, stop using that as an excuse. This is evident in the amount of Mosques that have been built in the United States. I know what would happen if you went over to Yemen or Iran or any Islamic country for that matter and tried to build a church. You know full well what would happen. Radical Islamics have no tolerance for anything but Islam and Sharia and you'd be killed.

      March 6, 2011 at 6:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • LivinginVA

      USA#1: No, this bill would make practicing Sharia Law illegal and punishable by jail. Sharia law includes dictates on prayers, fasting, charity to the poor, eating.....If a similar law were passed concerning "Canon Law" for Catholics, they could go to jail if they insisted on not eating meat on Fridays or during Lent.....

      March 6, 2011 at 8:20 pm | Report abuse |
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