Tennessee Lawmaker Asks for Votes Because He's Christian, Opponent is Not
Tennessee has been a hot bed of conflict between Christians and Muslims over the past few years, beginning with the construction of Islamic Center of Murfreesboro, which many locals claimed would be a terrorist gathering place.
The U.S. Justice Department stepped in to intervene, and the mosque was eventually built (pictured), noted The New York Times in 2012.
In 2013, Coffee County Commissioner Barry West posted a picture of a man squinting down the barrel of a rifle with the caption, "How to Wink at a Muslim" on Facebook, reported WSMV.
Local Muslims called for West to resign, but Coffee County Mayor David Pennington stated, "I seen the post. My answer to that is, you know, what a commissioner does on his off time, as long as he's not in a full commission meeting, you know, I have no control over what a commissioner does."
Now, there are is another Christian-Muslim conflict in Coffee County where County Commissioner Mark Kelly, a Christian, is running against Zak Mohyuddin, a Muslim.
According to The Tennessean, Kelly made the following claims about Mohyuddin in a July 16 letter:
My opponent has expressed his beliefs publicly that the United States is not a Christian nation; that the American flag should be removed from public buildings because it is a symbol of tyranny and oppression; that public prayer should be banned because it insults non-Christians; and that the Bible should be removed from public places.
Kelly could not cite any specific incidents, but told The Tennessean, "I have heard him in our discussions over time. Just go back to the places he represents and you'll find out. He also denied making another statement about the wheel tax that I can prove he said."
"That is a very serious allegation. What he is saying is vile and offensive and completely untrue," Mohyuddin stated. "It's an attack on my patriotism. I have never ever said any words even close to that in public or in private. It is absolute lies. It's not like he doesn't know me."
"I am a Christian and have been and will be. Zak isn't, and he has a different faith and there are a lot of different faiths," Kelly told The Tennessean. "I am standing on my values and my record. The point of the letter was to encourage the conservative base to get out and vote. It was simply to show the difference in views between two people, not that one is right or wrong, just a difference."
However, Mohyuddin holds a U.S. government security clearance that requires a background check every five years, and contributes 100 hours to giving free income tax return preparation via the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program every year.
Kelly also wrote in his letter:
I believe in the Christian values and work ethics that are the foundation of this great nation... Our Founding Fathers prayed to God and established our Nation and its Laws based on the Judeo-Christian principles of the Bible. Because the Bible is foundational to understanding American history and law as well as our heritage; the Bible belongs in public places.
"The Supreme Court made a decision that county commissions or city councils can start meetings with Christian prayers, and that's fine," Mohyuddin said. "That's the law of the land. And I participate. I bow my head like everybody else. I don't have an issue with it. I understand the intention of it. We have a common creator. We have different faiths.
"The same with Bibles," Mohyuddin added. "This is a Christian majority country. That has never even occurred to me about not having them in public places. That's how absurd it is."