Ben Carson Campaign Manager: We Have No Issue With 'Islam-Lite'

"I don't think there's any other religion that says that people of other religions have to be killed."
Justin Sullivan via Getty Images

WASHINGTON -- Ben Carson's campaign manager on Monday made clear Islam was the only faith he believes runs afoul of the values in the U.S. Constitution, sparing potential candidates for the White House who might happen to be Jewish, Hindu or Buddhist.

"I don't think there's any other religion that says that people of other religions have to be killed," Carson campaign chief Barry Bennet told The Huffington Post following an event in Washington, D.C., hosted by National Review and Google. (It's a misconception that the Quran advocates violence against non-Muslims.)

The famed neurosurgeon caused a stir when he told NBC's Chuck Todd over the weekend that he would not support a Muslim becoming president because Islam is "inconsistent with the values and principles of America" and is incompatible with the U.S. Constitution.

The comments drew condemnation from Democratic and Republican presidential hopefuls alike. Contrary to Carson's views, the Constitution states that "no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States."

“I think Dr. Carson forgot to read Article 6 in the U.S. Constitution, which states there shall be no religious test to hold office in the U.S. He also forgot that both the President and Members of Congress have to swear an oath to the Constitution -- and Representatives Andre Carson and Keith Ellison both did that when sworn in to the United States Congress," said Randa Fahmy Hudome, a prominent Arab-American political consultant and former Bush and Obama administration official. "In fact, Representative Elllison was sworn in on Thomas Jefferson’s Koran."

Bennet drew a distinction between radical elements of Islam, such as Islamic State terrorists, and the vast majority of Muslims that he called "Islam-lite."

"I know there are a lot of other people who practice, I'll call it Islam-lite. And that's fine," he said. "But you have to separate yourself from the tenents of the harsher sect in order for him to consider voting for you. That what this is all about."

Bennett further claimed that, during his 39-year tenure at Johns Hopkins, Carson had "trained a lot of doctors who are Muslim. He's getting a lot of positive feedback from them."

Sam Stein contributed reporting.

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