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National Islamic group calls on GOP to rebut NC lawmaker

Posted April 10, 2013

— The nation's largest Muslim advocacy group is calling on the Republican Party to repudiate state Rep. Michele Presnell, who equated the religion of Islam with "terrorism" in a recent email to a constituent. 

Presnell, R-Yancey, is a co-sponsor of the now-notorious House Joint Resolution 494.

That resolution, which House leaders say is now officially dead, said the state has the authority to establish a religion if it chooses to and can choose not to recognize judicial rulings on the Constitution and Bill of Rights, including the First Amendment. 

Last week, when the resolution was in the headlines, constituent Britt Kaufmann wrote to Presnell to express her opposition to it.  

In the email exchange, Kaufmann identifies herself as a Christian and tells Presnell the measure would be divisive.

"I believe it violates our country's Constitution, and freedom of religion is one of America's founding principles," she wrote.

In a follow-up message, Kaufmann asked, "Would you be comfortable with a public prayer to Allah before a legislative meeting in Raleigh?"  

"No, I do not condone terrorism," Presnell responded. "Britt, we just need to start taking a stand on our religious freedom, or it will be whisked away from us."

"I am saddened that you make a leap from Allah to terrorism so quickly," Kaufmann responded. "If the state sets a precedent of choosing one religion above others, we have to be prepared for any religion to be chosen as the preferential one."

"No, you are wrong," Presnell responded. "Have a good day." 

CAIR: Comment 'bigoted'

The Council on American-Islamic Relations issued a statement Wednesday calling for Presnell to be reprimanded. 

"If the Republican Party hopes to reach out to minority groups, it must clearly and forcefully repudiate such bigoted comments by its representatives," CAIR National Legislative Director Corey Saylor said in the statement.

A GOP official in southern California was reprimanded by her party for anti-Muslim and anti-Sikh remarks last December, Saylor noted.

Presnell closed her office door on a WRAL News reporter at the Legislative Building on Wednesday, and a second request to interview her went unanswered.

Kaufmann said she was surprised by the lawmaker's responses.

"She represents me, too, and even though I am also Christian, I simply wanted her to know that not all Christians in her district supported this idea of a state religion," Kaufmann said via email. 

However, she gave Presnell credit for responding to her message.

"As long as she was willing to enter into dialog, I felt I should pursue it. That's when change can happen, when people talk and exchange ideas," she said. "Not all politicians are open to that. They simply send form letters and don't engage, especially with dissenting opinions."

81 Comments

This story is closed for comments. Comments on WRAL.com news stories are accepted and moderated between the hours of 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Monday through Friday.

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  • Minarchist Apr 11, 1:03 p.m.

    "The basic structure of our beginning framework of LAW, came from Christian/Judaic, guidance. Whether you like it or not. There's a reason why the Commandments are in stone at the Supreme Court"

    And your "Commandments" are stolen from early Egyption relgion. WAYYYYY before your bible.

  • Minarchist Apr 11, 1:00 p.m.

    Wow, so quick to demand a reprimand for a verbal comment. How many of these muslims stood up after 9/11 and spoke against what thier fellow muslims did? They are so one sided when it comes to issues about their religion. Islam is always right or it's the will of Allah. Christians didn't attack our country and it's people, Muslims did!
    kermit60
    April 11, 2013 12:27 p.m.
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    You blame over 1 billion Muslims for the action of 19?

  • josephlawrence43 Apr 11, 1:00 p.m.

    A basic tenet of the Islamic religion: The world is divided into two "houses"-one is Dar-al-Islam or that portion of the world controlled by Islam. The second is Dar-al-Harab, loosely translated means "house of war" and represents those parts of the world not controlled by Islam. The Islamic religion preaches that the entire world should be under Islamic rule. That to be accomplished by any means necessary, including terrorism, deception and including murder. Don't take my word for it--look it up...

  • johnnyrottenmedic Apr 11, 12:41 p.m.

    This is horrifically stupid. As a conservative, I am highly offended by the ignorance and arrogance of this hick.-----Also, I would like to congratulate our military men and women for following the orders of the military industrial complex. We declared 2 nations free (IRAQ/ AFGHANISTAN). They seem truly free when people have no freedom of speech, religion, press, and the women still must be oppressed on a regular basis by the semi-theocratic government. Mission accomplished? More like a waste of time and money for Halliburton, KBR, Wackenhut, and multiple oil giants.

  • kermit60 Apr 11, 12:27 p.m.

    Wow, so quick to demand a reprimand for a verbal comment. How many of these muslims stood up after 9/11 and spoke against what thier fellow muslims did? They are so one sided when it comes to issues about their religion. Islam is always right or it's the will of Allah. Christians didn't attack our country and it's people, Muslims did!

  • welfarequeen Apr 11, 12:15 p.m.

    NC is one of six states that actually amended its state constitution to bar anyone from holding public office that doesn't believe in god. Of course it is blatantly unconstitutional and the courts have ruled as such. In 2009, City Councilman Cecil Bothwell of Asheville, North Carolina was called "unworthy of his seat" because of his open atheism. So of course it is no surprise that ignorance still runs rampant in our elected officials, including this Presnell woman who speaks so foolishly against Islam. I do feel sorry for her constituents!

  • atheistswillrule Apr 11, 12:08 p.m.

    "The basic structure of our beginning framework of LAW, came from Christian/Judaic, guidance. Whether you like it or not. There's a reason why the Commandments are in stone at the Supreme Court"

    Did you know the Qu'ran is also carved in stone at the Supreme Court? As is Muhammed, as is Confucius?

  • Ken D. Apr 11, 12:00 p.m.

    "The basic structure of our beginning framework of LAW, came from Christian/Judaic, guidance. Whether you like it or not. There's a reason why the Commandments are in stone at the Supreme Court"

    The Ten Commandments, to the extent that they deal with moral values, come from the same cultural ethos that gave rise to Islam. The foundation of our laws comes from English common law, not the Ten Commandments.

  • Minarchist Apr 11, 11:38 a.m.

    "This country was founded on Christian Religion"

    UMM no it wasnt. Our founders made that very clear. See the "Treaty of Tripoli" Minarchist April 11, 2013 9:49 a.m. >>>>I see you read, barely. The basic structure of our beginning framework of LAW, came from Christian/Judaic, guidance. Whether you like it or not. There's a reason why the Commandments are in stone at the Supreme Court, Just read some Washington's, Adams, personal writings, and what influenced them. The treaty was signed to appease those of islam to keep from going to to war...
    Dnut
    April 11, 2013 11:29 a.m.
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    I read it correct. It said we were NOT founded on the Christian religion. Signed John Adams. "appease" LOL ok buddy. Got proof that I can read and signed by Adams. All Im seeing is you calling Adams a liar.

  • RustyDawg Apr 11, 11:31 a.m.

    It should be interesting how history will reveal these times. Of course, it will probably be printed only in the official state language, Mandarin.

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