Sen. Ted CruzTed CruzTrump wall faces skepticism on border No Congress members along Mexico border support funding Trump's wall Obama-linked group launches ads targeting Republicans on immigration MORE (R-Texas) is criticizing GOP rival Ben Carson for saying that a Muslim should not be president of the United States.
At a campaign stop in Des Moines, Iowa, on Sunday evening, Cruz said religious convictions should have no bearing on one’s fitness for the Oval Office.
“You know, the Constitution specifies there shall be no religious test for public office and I am constitutionalist,” he said, according to The Des Moines Register.
Carson sparked controversy by declaring on Sunday that Islam has no place in a potential White House administration.
“I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation,” he said in an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press."
“I absolutely would not agree with that,” the retired neurosurgeon added. “If it’s inconsistent with the values of America, then of course it should matter. But if it fits within the realm of America and [is] consistent with the Constitution, no problem.”
Carson doubled down on Sunday evening, arguing that certain interpretations of Islam are inconsistent with the Constitution and the presidency.
“I do not believe Sharia is consistent with the Constitution of this country,” he told The Hill. “Muslims feel their religion is very much a part of your public life and what you do as a public official, and that’s inconsistent with our principles and our Constitution.”
Cruz also said on Sunday that he does support excluding Muslim refugees from the U.S. amid a migrant crisis in Europe and the Middle East.
Cruz charged that accepting Islamic refugees might bring potential terrorists inside America’s borders.
“I think the Christians are a very different circumstance because Christians are being persecuted, they are being persecuted directly for their faith and the Obama administration has abandoned Middle East Christians,” Cruz said, according to The Des Moines Register.
The long civil war in Syria has led to a flood of refugees, including minority Kurds and Christians from that country, seeking shelter in Europe.
Secretary of State John Kerry announced on Sunday that the U.S. will take as many as 85,000 refugees in 2016.
The Obama administration had originally pledged it was accepting 70,000 refugees next year, before increasing that number following pressure from humanitarian organizations and sympathetic lawmakers.
Cruz currently ranks fourth out of 16 GOP contenders in 2016 with 6.5 percent support, according to the latest RealClearPolitics average of polls.
Carson, meanwhile, ranks second with 18.8 percent voter support nationwide.