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August 8, 2011

Jewish Dems to Herman Cain: Clearly State Your Views on the First Amendment

Listed in: Separation of Church and State, NJDC News, Press Releases

NJDC challenges Cain to prove he respects religious freedom for all Americans during his address to Jewish Republicans.

WASHINGTON, DC - The National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC) today called upon Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain to definitively state his views on who the First Amendment applies to when he addresses the Republican Jewish Coalition’s luncheon in Sioux City, IA. [Republican Jewish Coalition]

“The First Amendment’s essential protections have historically been cherished by American Jews, as they have by members of other minority faith communities. Yet Herman Cain’s dismal record of misrepresenting and misunderstanding both the Constitution and Islam - another minority faith - places him at home with some of the most extreme conservatives in the Republican Party,” said NJDC President and CEO David A. Harris. “Despite his apology for his offensive statements about Islam, the damage has been done. Cain has proven that generalized, know-nothing attacks on Islam can sweep up Judaism and other minority faiths in their path.”

Harris challenged Cain to adhere to his apology when he addresses Jewish Republicans today.

“If Cain is truly a serious candidate to represent all Americans, then he will cease using Islam as a straw man to scare potential voters—including the Jewish Republicans he is addressing today. But if he continues his behavior behind closed doors, let alone publicly, Cain will confirm beyond a doubt just how out of step he is with the majority of American Jews and all others who value religious freedom.”

Cain appeared recently at a rally to prohibit the building of an Islamic center in Murfreesboro, TN. He said that the center’s construction represented “an infringement and an abuse of our freedom of religion.” He added that the center “is just another way to try to gradually sneak Shariah law into our laws.” [New York Daily News, July 15, 2011] Days later, he justified his redefinition of the First Amendment during an appearance on Fox News, when he said that the mosque could be banned because “Islam is both a religion and a set of laws, Shariah law.” He also claimed that Islamic law is “the difference between any one of our other traditional religions where it’s just about religious purposes.” [New York Times, July 23, 2011]

In redefining the First Amendment, Cain proved two things:

  1. He does not understand Judaism and other faiths that have millennia of history of religious legal scholarship firmly cemented into their teachings and rituals.
  2. He proved that generalized attacks on Islam can sweep up Judaism and other religions in their path.

He also asserted that he would not allow Muslim-Americans to serve in his cabinet [PolitiFact Georgia, June 8, 2011]—later clarifying by saying that some sort of loyalty test may be required for a Muslim to work in a Cain Administration. [CNN, June 10, 2011] Cain apologized for his anti-Islamic remarks by saying that Muslims in America “have the right to practice their faith freely and peacefully.” [The Tennessean, July 29, 2011] However, days later on the campaign trail, The Iowa Independent quoted Cain as saying it was a “damned if you, damned if you don’t” apology. [The Iowa Independent, August 4, 2011]

The sincerity of Cain’s apology is unclear. To prove his sincerity, Cain must use today’s appearance to explain his views on the First Amendment and refrain from using Islam to distract voters from the issues.

If Cain fails to do so, it will confirm that he cannot be trusted to protect the First Amendment and resulting religious liberty for all Americans, and that he is simply too radical for the vast majority of American Jews.