Ben Carson, a US Republican presidental canditate, says he does not believe a Muslim should become president and added that Islam is antithetical to the US Constitution.
"I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation. I absolutely would not agree with that," Carson told NBC's "Meet the Press."
Carson is a retired neurosurgeon, observant Christian and has been running high in surveys. Moreover, he is close to the top of polls for the crowded field of Republican candidates.
America’s largest Muslim civil rights group and advocacy organisation, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, condemned Carson’s comments and drew attention to the fact that the US Consititution bans religous tests for holding public office.
"To me this really means he is not qualified to be president of the United States," said the group's spokesman, Ibrahim Hooper. "You cannot hold these kinds of views and at the same time say you will represent all Americans, of all faiths and backgrounds."
NBC reporters asked Ben Carson in interview on Sunday whether he thought President Obama is a Christian because he was born in the US and has an American mother and Kenyan father and Carmen responded, "I believe that he is. I have no reason to doubt what he says."
Support for Carson had been growing, though he lost ground according to a CNN/ORC poll released on Sunday, moving to third place from second with 14 percent support. Sixteen Republican hopefuls are battling for their party's nomination for the presidental election in 2016.
In another debacle, after failing to correct a questioner who said US President Barack Obama was a Muslim, Republican frontrunner Donald Trump asserted it was "not his job" to do so, saying, “Am I morally obligated to defend the president every time somebody says something bad or controversial about him? I don’t think so!”
Trump spoke on Sunday to NBC and said a Muslim becoming President of the US is "something that could happen ... Some people have said it already happened, frankly," and told CNN’s State of Union, "I have friends that are Muslims, they're great people, amazing people."
Trump continues to lead the race for the Republican presidential nomination with the support of 24 percent of registered voters, a CNN/ORC poll showed.