Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky discussed the possibility of a Muslim President on CBS’ “Face the Nation” Sept. 20 (video below). The presidential hopeful, currently polling at four percent in the Republican primary, says that a candidate should not be judged by their religion but by their American values.
“I think that it’s not so much what religion you are, it’s what you stand for.” Paul said regarding the possibility of a Muslim in the White House.
The senator did note that the likelihood of the U.S. electing a Muslim in the near future is slim.
“I don’t think we’re anywhere near that probably happening, because they (Muslims) are a small minority in our population," he said.
Every U.S. President elected to date has been identified as belonging to some sect of Christianity; Episcopalians dominate the field with 11 having occupied the White House.
Paul’s comments follow Ben Carson’s negative stance on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” The retired neurosurgeon, currently polling at 14 percent in the Republican primary, says that Islam is “not consistent with the Constitution."
“I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation,” Carson said. “I absolutely would not agree with that.”
Carson’s comments have received heavy criticism from Muslim advocacy groups, who say that his stance should disqualify him from the presidency.
“To me this really means he is not qualified to be president of the United States,” Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), said, according to Al Jazeera America. “You cannot hold these kinds of views and at the same time say you will represent all Americans, of all faiths and backgrounds.”
Paul also weighed in on Islamophobia in the U.S. during his appearance on "Face the Nation."
“The hard part is that while we are a very pluralistic society, more open to all religions, more free than any other country, the problem is that the people who have been attacking us have been all of one religion (Islam) and it’s hard to separate that,” Paul said.
Paul concluded that more can be done by the Muslim community to distance themselves away from radical Islam.
“I think it’s really incumbent — and this is what I’ve been saying all along — civilized Islam needs to step up in a bigger way and say ‘this doesn’t represent us.’” Paul said. “I know they do, but I don’t hear enough of it. I frankly think that Saudi Arabia has often stoked the flames of radical Islam instead of trying to be helpful.”
Photo Credit: GageSkidmore/Flickr, CBS Screenshot