The Washington Post's Sally Quinn recently spoke with Ben Carson on the campaign trail about his faith — and how that faith has shaped his worldview, his campaign and his life.
Ben Carson says he is a religious pluralist who accepts people from all faiths.
He has also said that to become president, “you have to reject the tenets of Islam.” And for the past few weeks, he's been trying to explain how those views don't conflict.
When he says Islamic principles are incompatible with the U.S. presidency, he's not talking about all Muslims, he says — just “a Muslim who believes in sharia [law].”
What exactly does he mean by sharia?
“I’m talking about the subjugation of women, the judging of people with sexual deviation and feeling that you have the right to kill them ... the feeling that somebody who becomes an apostate as you see it and tries to leave the faith is deserving of death. I just don’t see those things as consistent with American values or our Constitution.”
Of course, that isn't everyone's definition of sharia law — and Carson says he understands that there are many different kinds of sharia, including some versions that include none of the above: “I’ve said if Muslims are willing to reject those things and to place our Constitution above, you know, their belief system, I don’t see why they couldn’t serve as president of the United States.”
Carson isn't prepared to adopt that standard himself: Sometimes the Constitution comes first, he’s said — but sometimes the Bible does. He just doesn’t have to make a choice, he says.
“Well, fortunately it’s not a problem for us,” he says, “because the people who put the Constitution together believed in the Christian faith. And all the values [in the] Constitution are derived from our Judeo-Christian heritage. So there’s no conflict there.”
Some candidates have floated the idea of taking in Christians, not Muslims. That wouldn’t solve the problem for Carson. “If you’re, you know, an extremist and you want to get in here and do stuff, say ‘I’m a Christian. You know, look at my cross, I’m a good guy.’ And then all of a sudden, when you get here — [explosion noise].”
“And as you probably know, with the jihadists they believe that it’s okay to lie to people who belong to what they call the ‘kafir.’ If you’re not one of them, you can do anything you want and it’s okay.”
As for the terrorist group many of the refugees are fleeing: If Carson were president, he would get rid of the Islamic State by “strangling them, all of their supply routes, all of their monetary routes, their oil, everything that’s giving them sustenance. Then you find them and you kill them. It’s as simple as that.”
Does he ever ask himself what Jesus would do? Would Jesus say “find them and kill them”?
“I seriously doubt he would put himself in that position.” Jesus, he says, would never run for president.