(CNSNews.com) – If Islam is as peaceful a religion as Muslims say, shouldn’t they be “begging” people to visit mosques to listen to sermons, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee asked on Tuesday night, disputing the notion that intelligence agencies monitoring mosques in the U.S. would violate First Amendment rights.
“I hear people act like there’s something that is terrible about going and sitting in and listening to the sermons of a mosque,” he said during CNN's undercard Republican presidential debate in Las Vegas.
“If Islam is as wonderful and peaceful as its adherents say, shouldn’t they be begging us to all come in and listen to these peaceful sermons? Shouldn’t they be begging us all to come, and listen, and bring the FBI so we'd all want to convert to Islam?”
Islam, radical Islam and terrorism featured prominently in the debate among the four candidates lagging at the bottom of the opinion polls – Huckabee, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.), and former New York governor George Pataki.
Huckabee said the argument that “we can’t listen” to mosque sermons was “utter nonsense.”
“If there’s something so secretive going on in there that somebody isn’t allowed to go and hear it, maybe we do need for sure to send somebody in there and gather the intelligence.”
To the assertion that monitoring mosques in America would violate Muslims’ First Amendment rights, Huckabee noted that religious services are by their nature public.
“You know, if you go to my church, you’ll probably get a real blessing,” Huckabee continued. “Heck, it’ll be a wonderful experience. You go to some people’s church, you may go to sleep. I don’t know what happens in every church, but, the point is that these are public places, and folks are invited to come.”
“So, if it’s a public place, and people are invited to come, how does it violate anybody’s First Amendment rights that somebody shows up because they might want to just listen in and see is there something that is a little nefarious?”
“And, if there is, then you take the second step of getting a search warrant, you do whatever you have to do. That’s all protected under the constitution.”