Republican presidential hopeful Herman Cain, campaigning in Tennessee on Thursday, said he doesn't believe a mosque planned for construction in the state is an “innocent mosque.”
Cain's comments came during a chat with reporters at the end of a “meet and greet” event in Murfreesboro, Tenn.
People in the community have been protesting against the planned worship center, a project organized by the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro.
"It is an infringement and an abuse of our freedom of religion," Cain told the Associated Press. "And I don't agree with what's happening, because this isn't an innocent mosque."
Plans to build the mosque are currently being challenged in local hearings.
The Islamic Center of Murfreesboro's stated vision is to “be a leading force in providing Islamic religious, education and social services to Muslims and non Muslims in the Middle Tennessee area.”
The land purchased for the mosque will also include recreation areas, education facilities, and a cemetery, according to documents made available on the organization’s website.
Those who oppose the mosque have reportedly argued that there is a plot to spread Islamic extremism across the United States, and that the mosque is a part of carrying out that plan.
It appears Cain might share that viewpoint. He told the Associated Press, “This is just another way to try to gradually sneak Shariah law into our laws, and I absolutely object to that.”
Cain was born in Tennessee, 65, but grew up in Atlanta.
While campaigning, Cain has been positioning himself as a problem solver, having successfully turned struggling companies into successful businesses.
He has worked for the U.S. Navy, the Pillsbury Company, and as chairman of a Federal Reserve Bank branch.
The married father of two also serves as associate pastor at Antioch Baptist Church North in Atlanta.