The Republican candidate running in a competitive House race in North Carolina has a history of making anti-Muslim comments, a CNN KFile review finds.
Mark Harris, a former pastor who stepped down from his congregation in 2017, is the GOP nominee in North Carolina’s 9th District, which runs along the state’s southern border below Charlotte and Fayetteville. Harris defeated three-term GOP Rep. Robert Pittenger in a May primary and is now facing Democrat Dan McCready. CNN rates the race toss-up, the most competitive designation.
Harris, as the senior pastor of Charlotte’s First Baptist Church, claimed Islam was “dangerous” and the work of Satan. He also said peace between Israel and the Palestinians could not be achieved until Muslims and Jews accepted Jesus Christ as their savior.
During one sermon, Harris showed his congregation a conspiratorial video claiming that Islam was taking over the world, including the United States. Harris said in that 2014 sermon that he was “shocked” and that “what he showed presented some cold hard facts that need to be exposed. And I mean, need to be exposed quickly.”
The video, which was posted on YouTube in 2009 and which the online fact-checking site Snopes called “Mostly False,” alleges that European and American cultures are in terminal decline due to a coincidence of decreasing fertility rates and booming population growth among Muslim immigrants. “As the population shrinks, so does the culture,” the narrator states.
The narrator later adds, “In a matter of years, Europe as we know it will cease to exist.”
Over Middle Eastern-sounding music, the video goes on to cite dubious statistics on various European countries, including the assertion that the average Muslim family in France has 8.1 children to the average non-Muslim family’s 1.8. “In just 39 years, France will be an Islamic republic,” the video claims.
Pew research published in 2017 showed that while Muslim women in Europe do have more children than non-Muslim women, the difference was projected to be between 2.6 to 1.6 and 2.9 to 1.9 in France specifically. The research suggested that the Muslim portion of the European population is expected to increase over coming decades, although the data does not support the sweeping claims made in the video.
The video goes on to warn of a similar pattern in the United States before claiming that Islamic organizations had met “three years ago” in Chicago to plan “to evangelize America through journalism, politics, education, and more.” It’s unclear what meeting is being referenced in the video.
“If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?” Harris asked the congregation after the end of the video.
A spokesperson for Harris’ campaign did not return a request for comment.
In another sermon, in November 2010, Harris called Islam dangerous and a counterfeit of Christianity.
“There is a satanic trinity of the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet. Satan is always a counterfeit,” Harris said. “Listen to me, that is why the religion of Islam is so dangerous. It is the great counterfeit of our generation.”
Harris went on to say that many elements of the Koran are identical to passages from the Bible, and warned against listening to political leaders who call Islam one of the great religions of the world.
“It is the great counterfeit. That’s why we’ve got to be so careful of political leaders who somehow just like to speak of it as one of the great world religions. Ladies and gentlemen, it is not,” he said. “In right here in Revelation 13, can’t you see where we’re moving? Because in Revelation 13 there is a counterfeit death and there is a counterfeit resurrection.”
In another November 2010 sermon, Harris played on a similar theme, saying that in countries under Islamic rule, people are given no choice but to “worship the anti-Christ” and “to bow down to the image of the Beast.”
“If you reject Jesus and you go into the great tribulation that we’re describing in Revelation 13, the Devil’s not going to give you that choice,” he said. “You’re going to be forced to worship the anti-Christ. You’re going to be forced to bow down to the image of the Beast. And you know as well as I do in some countries of the world this very morning under Islamic rule, men are given no choice, but God’s given you a choice this very morning.”
In 2011, Harris delivered a sermon in which he recalled a recent trip he took to Israel and noted the tension that existed between Palestinians and Israelis. He went on to say there would be no peace between Jews and Muslims until they converted to Christianity.
“You cannot be in that land, as powerful and as moving as it is, without realizing the incredible tension that is constantly in that land between the Palestinians and the Jews,” Harris said. “There will never be peace in Jerusalem until the day comes that every knee shall bow, every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.”
Harris continued to say that no inhabitants of Jerusalem – whether they be Jewish, Muslim, or Christians without a personal relationship with Jesus – would experience peace until they accepted the teachings of Jesus.
“Jesus, when he went into Jerusalem, said, ‘I am the vine. I am the true vine,’ and until those that are called in Islam realize that and until those that are called in Judaism realize that, for that matter, until those that are caught in the religion of Christianity and are missing the personal relationship with Jesus Christ, realize that, there’ll never be peace in their soul or peace in their city.”