On Monday, at a meeting of the local Republican Party in the third-most-populous county in the United States, a Christian pastor who serves as chaplain for the Harris County GOP tried to stop a Muslim man from serving as a precinct chair because of his religion. “Islam does not have any basis or any foundation,” the pastor, Trebor Gordon, said. “It is the total opposite of our foundation.”
More than four million people live in Harris County, Texas, which includes the city of Houston—home to the largest Muslim population in Texas and one of the largest in the southern U.S., according to the Houston Chronicle. It has more than 1,000 precincts, each of which is represented by a chair, nominated by committee and voted on by the local party.
Syed Ali, 62, who the Washington Post reports has been a Republican since the Reagan administration, was tapped to be one of those precinct chairs, before Gordon interrupted with his motion. Precinct chair Felicia Winfree Cravens was streaming the meeting over Facebook Live when the incident took place.
“Islam and Christianity do not mix,” Gordon said. “During my prayer, this man did not bow his head. During the pledge of allegiance, he did not utter a word. He didn’t even try to fake it and move his lips.”
“If you believe that a person can practice Islam and agree to the foundational principles of the Republican Party, it’s not right. It’s not true. It can’t happen. There are things on our platform that he and his beliefs are total opposite.”
Those assembled on Monday debated Gordon’s motion, the Post reports. When one man pointed out that it was against the law to discriminate on the basis of religion; in turn, precinct chair Mike Robertson actually asked whether Islam is, in fact, a religion. “Can I have a point of information?” Robertson said. “Has there been any factual information provided that Islam is a religion?”
The motion was voted down, and Ali was instated as precinct chair. “It doesn’t bother me at all, as a Republican, as an American, as a Muslim,” he told the Post. “Everyone’s entitled to their view.”