Muslim-American groups and others are calling for Ben Carson to quit the 2016 race after the Republican presidential hopeful said a Muslim should not be president.
The groups have said these views make him unqualified to run himself.
Dr. Ben Carson, a Christian, made the comments on September 20, adding that Islam was inconsistent with the Constitution.
Another Republican presidential candidate, Bobby Jindal, said on September 21 a Muslim president should swear on a Bible to uphold the Constitution.
Bobby Jindal said a Muslim Republican who fought to protect religious liberty, respected the Judeo-Christian heritage of the US and was committed to destroying Islamic State and radical Islam, and condemned cultures that treated women as second class citizens would get his vote.
But they must “place their hand on the Bible and swear to uphold the Constitution”, he added.
The Republican candidates for president are being asked about their views on Islam since Donald Trump failed last week to correct a supporter who said President Barack Obama was a Muslim.
Donald Trump, the Republican frontrunner, has since said he would have no problem appointing a Muslim to his cabinet.
In an interview with NBC’s Meet the Press, Ben Carson said the president’s faith matters if it differs with the values of America.
“I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation,” he said.
Ben Carson elaborated later when he told The Hill: “Muslims feel that 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.”
Democrats immediately denounced his remarks and Muslim groups called on Ben Carson, a neurosurgeon who is riding high in the polls among Republican voters, to quit the race.
“To me this really means he is not qualified to be president of the United States,” said Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).
Ibrahim Hooper noted that the US Constitution specifically does not require the president to have a certain religion.
Farhana Khera of Muslim Advocates said the “religious bigotry” was heard when JFK was hoping to be the first Catholic president.
Haroon Moghul, a leading commentator on Islam, told CNN: “I think Carson’s comments mean he should get out of the race.”
One of the latest polls, run by CNN/ORC, shows Ben Carson has slipped into third place in the Republican race, trailing former Hewlett-Packard chief Carly Fiorina and Donald Trump, who has consistently remained ahead of the pack.
Senior Republicans had said after the 2012 election that if the party did not become more inclusive, it would continue to push away young voters.