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. tr33house

    What a waste of time and taxpayers money.

    March 6, 2011 at 5:12 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Chris

    Something to keep in mind – many of the punishments that people find so terrifying about Sharia law actually come from the Old Testament. People seem to not realize that Islam is based on the foundation of both Judaism and Christianity.

    March 6, 2011 at 5:13 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Brandon

    you mean it is still legal to beat your wife and decapitate people in TN? It is all the crimes that are already illegal just under a different name.

    March 6, 2011 at 5:17 pm | Report abuse |
  4. merri702

    I voted for Obama and was rabidly anti-Bush and i did not trust Peter King. BUT I cannot wait for these hearings to begin as ISLAM is a scourge that has to be exposed for what it is. A political movement bent on destroying the very core of our society. People Freedom. Mohammed was nothing but a warlord who plagiarized the Bible and crafted hos own doctrine of oppression, and suppression of other religions for his gain. Just because he lived 1400 years ago, does not make him smarter than us. He started a cult .. and it grew thru wars, conquest, and the population explosion of Muslims. Europe in centuries past saw him for what he was, and had to constantly fight his and his followers off. Now we're under attack. And we better drop these 20th century niceties, because Islam doesn't care about your niceties. They just want you gone!! Just like the nazis

    March 6, 2011 at 5:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Alert U

      It is now safer to be a Satanic Worshipper in Tennessee and other right-wing strongholds in America than to worship the Deity called: God; Yahweh; Allah.
      Then again Delaware tried to elect a witch to the Senate, that failed, but Tennessee was successful in getting the one who worships Aqua Buddha in.

      March 6, 2011 at 7:13 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Factual

    The Sharia Law prohibits stealing, now does that mean that the police will be sent to jail for 15 years for catching the criminal and prosecuting him/her?

    March 6, 2011 at 5:28 pm | Report abuse |
  6. tank

    No one is suggesting that sharia law b implemented into our court system. Anyone n the USA has to follow our laws. If a religious group wants to live by their own laws w in their church then let them as long as they arent hurting anyone or breaking any US laws. Quit being a bunch of scared pu$$ies. Live and let live. You rt wing nut jobs are a bunch of scared lil` pu$$ies.

    March 6, 2011 at 5:31 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Don McLaughlin

    >> All of you debating this are naive. Sharia law is not about 'follow these laws above any others'.
    As a Muslim, I can say tell you that your ignorance of Sharia law is frightening!! I hope you learn something about the subject if you are going to continue to post here!!

    March 6, 2011 at 5:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Alaskan

      Has it occured to you that we don't care? Don't care about ALL the laws we don't care that you are Muslim or what ever..... All we care about is that if you tred on us we will not take it!
      Don't like us? LEAVE!
      don't want to be like us?.... LEAVE!
      don't want to follow our laws?... LEAVE!
      want to belittle our faith because it isn't your (wrong) faith?..... THEN STFU AND GTFO. GO SOMEWHERE WHERE YOU ARE ACCEPTED DON'T B1TCH AT US CAUSE YOU WANT US TO CHAINGE!!!! we started this country because we didn't like where we were... Did we complain and revolt? We moved! You don't like our freedom then choke your self with your own laws somewhere else!

      March 6, 2011 at 6:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Don McLaughlin

      >> Don't like us? LEAVE!
      >> don't want to be like us?.... LEAVE!
      >> don't want to follow our laws?... LEAVE!
      Uh... Alaskan...

      My great grand parents on my mother's side came over here from Scotland and my grandparents on my father's side came over here from Ireland. This IS my country.

      Let me be very specific here, Christian Scientists sometimes don't want medical help for their families when it goes against their beliefs. No one attempts to make it a crime to practice of Christian Science in this country. No one tells them to leave!! When there are conflicts between their beliefs and state and local law, they are examined on a case by case basis.

      You may not care, but there is freedom of religion in this country and Muslims are going to demand their freedoms just like everyone else. So I suggest that you learn to live with us because we are going to be here for a long time just like Christians, Jews, Hindus, Atheists, Blacks, Asians, and many others who have come here to live in an open and just society.

      March 6, 2011 at 8:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Alaskan

      I agree but if the people vote this in and you don't like it then you can leave..... Plain and simple... I personally couldn't care less if this is voted in... I couldn't care less about any of the bs that you all are posting.... It's my free speech that let's me be able to troll like this....
      First off it is a crime in some states to practice Christian science on your children if it will jeprodize the welfare of the child

      Second off I never said they can't have a religion here

      Third. What I did say was that they shouldn't be allowed to use there LAWS here... Plain and simple.... I don't go over there and do something that is ok In the bible and tell the "my laws allow me to do this" all they would do is laugh at me befor I'm shot

      And fourth
      "this is my country?"
      F CK YOU!!! this is OUR COUNTRY!!!
      I have just as every right to express my opinion and say that they shouldn't be allowed to use their laws as "the law" as you do to say this is YOUR country....

      Also I may not like everyone on earth but you don't have to worry about me... Unless you come to my home and tell me I have to abide by you laws and not The laws of our forefathers! Also unless your a native American we all came from some where else dumba$$

      March 6, 2011 at 10:54 pm | Report abuse |
  8. WDrad

    Good. The south leading the way in progressive legislature aimed at keeping their states decent, way to go! If only the non diverse liberal states had some cajones.

    March 6, 2011 at 5:34 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Factual

    I find this article amusing. For 1400 years, if there is an islamic society (following sharia law), then a person of non islamic faith (Jew, Christian, fire worshipper) have had choice either to go to their own court or go to the sharia court. I guess the west has a lot to learn from Islamic tolerance. I find it amusing that the "modern western world" is still is middle ages as far as this issue goes.

    March 6, 2011 at 5:38 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Chris

    A good portion of sharia law is already illegal by felony in the united states so it makes absolutely no sense to not make it illegal.

    March 6, 2011 at 5:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • LivinginVA

      If it's already illegal, why pass another law say that it's illegal? Seems to me a waste of time and effort. That's like saying "let's pass a law against murder, I know there's already one on the books, but we want to people to know we really don't like it."

      March 6, 2011 at 7:10 pm | Report abuse |
  11. CaseyOR

    North Carolina to pass law banning unicorns...

    March 6, 2011 at 5:39 pm | Report abuse |
  12. dave sq

    OH OH Obama aint gonna like it if they dont allow Sharia Law to be used..nope he sure isnt.....
    however I must say that the naiveness of many will allow the Sharia law to be used in "some"cases..they will allow the wedge to get in the door cuz everyone wants to "give peace a chance"" All those things in the Koran cant be true..we are all one big happy family

    March 6, 2011 at 5:39 pm | Report abuse |
  13. rob

    Ok people what is comes down to is this. You have a right to practice your own religion and every religion has its own set of laws within that group but the laws can't not and should not take precedence over the laws of the country you live in. If you live in a country that has Sharia laws that is fine but if you live in a non Muslim country you follow the larger societal laws of that country. Its simple a lot of religious groups do that I as an American wouldn't and couldn't go to Yemen and try to enforce my larger societal laws on that country and its people just because I want to. I have to go with pro American whack jobs on this one..You live here you follow the larger laws followed by the majority of people,.if not you leave. I don't think this Anti Sharia law is trying to oppress Muslims most of the basic Sharia laws are covered under the Freedom speech. But this is a protection .

    Say you marry a Muslim or do business with a Muslim and they do something to you that under Sharia law is perfectly fine well what recourse do you have if the American courts allowed Sharia laws over its own..It would be chaos. Any group that does that would bring about chaos. i think that is how this whole thing started. Someone did something and tried to invoke Sharia law and the government said Ahnoo this ain't happenin sunshine. Because if that's the case..we shouldn't be arresting polygamist Mormons

    This is just a bunch of whiny babies who want their way. They want the fruits of living in this country but don't want to have pick any apples. I bet if some dude robbed them at gun point they would be quick to call the police and press charges.

    March 6, 2011 at 5:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Uhhh

      To Rob.
      Agree with your sentiments. But what makes someone pro-American a whack job? Sounds from your diatribe that you are pleased with being an American. Why not be proud of it too? Perhaps you were just trying to satiate the crowd on here who still find themselves too intellectual or cool to love their country openly. And in case I'm misunderstood, I am very well traveled (abroad) and educated. But, also pro-American.


      March 6, 2011 at 11:40 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Pastor Evans

    You their demonic display of their false religion. Just think if followers of Jesus Christ would block traffic to hold prayer here in America, people would get mad, call the ACLU, cry separation of Church and state, but why not for this? Anything Islamic take it back to the middle and destroy it like you currently are. We don't want this crap here!!!

    March 6, 2011 at 5:44 pm | Report abuse |
  15. JOSEPH


    March 6, 2011 at 5:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      I love that you said this was an inclusive society but then said Muslims can jam it. If that doesn't underscore how inclusive we are I don't know what does. Keep on keeping on my man!

      March 7, 2011 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse |
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