Posted by | March 26, 2011 14:12 | Filed under: Top Stories

As Minnesota governor, GOP presidential hopeful Tim Pawlenty wanted to expand minority home ownership, and so the state housing authority set up a program whereby Muslims could buy homes without interest payments by creating a lay-away-type plan. This gave low and moderate income immigrants who wanted to comply with their religious beliefs to become homeowners. Adam Serwer at The American Prospect suggested this could hurt Pawlenty with his base, given that he was giving a nod to Sharia law.

In 2004, then-Gov. Pawlenty urged the Minnesota Housing Financing Agency to partner with local groups and businesses in an effort to increase minority homeownership in the state. That partnership became the Emerging Markets Homeowners Initiative. At the time, Minnesota’s minority homeownership rate of 42 percent was slightly behind the national average, and part of the reason was that Minnesota’s relatively large Muslim population was unable to purchase homes. The MHFA decided to partner with a local group, the African Development Center, in “developing culturally sensitive products,” that would allow Muslims to enter the market. According to MHFA spokesperson Megan Ryan, the effort fizzled, in part because the ADC wasn’t able to find interested homebuyers. “I don’t know if it was that point in the economy,” Ryan said. “for whatever reason the program never took off.”

Pawlenty’s effort to increase minority homeownership by encouraging companies to offer Sharia-compliant mortgages was entirely in keeping with his reputation as a “Sam’s Club Republican” concerned with helping “regular people.” But in the 2012 race, he’ll be up against competitors who may try to use it against him.

Now, Pawlenty brags, through a spokesman, that he shut the program down.

“This program was independently set up by the Minnesota state housing agency and did not make any mention Sharia Law on its face, but was later described as accommodating it,” the spokesman, Alex Conant, said. “As soon as Gov. Pawlenty became aware of the issue, he personally ordered it shut it down. Fortunately, only about three people actually used the program before it was terminated at the Governor’s direction.”

Pawlenty’s objection: “The United States should be governed by the U.S. Constitution, not religious laws,” Conant said.

However, as we’ve posted, and as Think Progress notes, religious laws are fine with Pawlenty, as long as they’re based on Christianity, and not Islam. Pawlenty spoke a very different game with Christianity Today.

I started with the perspective of someone who says that faith is separate from public law and public service; it really isn’t. We have, as a country, a founding perspective that we’re founded under God; our founding documents reference and acknowledge God, and acknowledge that our rights and privileges come from our Creator.

At the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition, where Republican candidates tried to out-God each other, Pawlenty asserted his believe that our country needs to turn to God, urging, “we need to be a country that turns toward God, not a country that turns away from God.” He just has to make sure that the religious frame of reference conforms with his religion, and not Muslims; just as, if he is going to work to make it easier for minorities to buy homes, he can’t be seen as doing so in keeping with Islamic beliefs. That wouldn’t be good for business.

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Copyright 2011 Liberaland
By: Alan

Alan Colmes is the publisher of Liberaland.