This morning on the Today Show Mitt Romney and Chris Christie repeated their call for Rick Perry to disassociate himself from pastor Robert Jeffress because of the pastor’s denigration of Romney’s Mormon faith. Yesterday, Christie even compared Jeffress to “those folks in New Jersey who disparaged in both parties my decision to appoint a Muslim judge” and said that any “campaign that associates itself with that type of comment is beneath the office of President of the United States, in my view.”
Ironically, one of the people who slammed Christie over his criticism of anti-Muslim activists is Jay Sekulow, who endorsed and introduced Romney at the Values Voter Summit last week and in 2008 was a member of Romney’s “National Faith and Values Steering Committee.”
In fact, Sekulow and his organization, the American Center for Law and Justice, which was founded by Pat Robertson, tried to prevent American Muslims from exercising their First Amendment rights by suing to block the construction of a mosque in lower Manhattan and also issued a pamphlet which claims that Sharia law is on the brink of eclipsing the U.S. Constitution that “devout Muslims cannot truthfully swear the oath to become citizens of the United States of America.” Tim Murphy pointed out the irony in Romney condemning anti-Muslim bigot Bryan Fischer while praising Sekulow, and People For the American Way urged Romney to disavow Sekulow in the same way he has urged Perry to “repudiate” Jeffress:
“Mitt Romney is right to criticize his rivals for silently standing by and accepting bigotry,” said Michael Keegan, President of People For the American Way. “Now it is time for him to apply those standards to his own campaign. The truly courageous position for Romney to take would be to stand up against religious bigotry of all stripes – including the GOP’s increasingly prevalent scapegoating of American Muslims.
“Romney endorser Jay Sekulow’s American Center for Law and Justice has suggested that devout Muslims cannot become true citizens of the United States. Sekulow himself has perpetuated the debunked claim that the Constitution is under a threat from Sharia law and was a leader of the extremist backlash against the building of an Islamic community center in lower Manhattan, including overseeing the ACLJ’s lawsuit attempting to stop the community center’s construction.
“Last weekend, Mitt Romney called Sekulow a ‘treasure.’ If Romney wishes to show that he is a true champion of the American values of religious freedom and tolerance, he must apply the same standard to his own endorsers as he does to those of Rick Perry.”
But Sekulow isn’t the only anti-Muslim activist in the Romney camp.
Walid Phares was recently named a foreign policy adviser to Romney. As the Council on American Islamic Relations pointed out in a letter [pdf] to Rep. Peter King, Phares has close ties to a Lebanese militiamen and even served as an official in a militia that was “implicated, by Israel’s official Kahan inquiry and other sources, in the 1982 massacre of civilian men, women and children at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in Lebanon.”
Phares also claims [pdf] that “jihadists within the West pose as civil rights advocates, interested solely in the ‘rights’ of their immigrant communities” in order for their “institutions [to] fall into their hands,” and warns of the “spread of Wahhabism” through Muslim infiltration of “the U.S. armed forces and ultimately even into the Pentagon.”
While Romney was willing to call out Jeffress and Fischer over their intolerant rhetoric, it is uncertain if he will apply that standard to his own campaign.