In recent Facebook comments, Coffee County D.A. Craig Northcott, the man now overseeing the Glen Casada-Justin Jones case, expressed intensely Islamophobic views, and also added that “there are no constitutional rights” only “God-given rights protected by the constitution”, adding: “If you don’t believe in the one true God, there is nothing to protect” because “no one other than God has given us any rights.”
In February, civil rights activist Justin Jones was charged with assault and banned from the capitol for throwing a cup of iced tea into the elevator in which Speaker Casada was riding. Casada had been dodging a meeting with Jones to discuss the removal of the bust of the KKK’s first Grand Wizard from the state capitol.
In the wake of the incident, Nashville District Attorney Glenn Funk issued a “no-contact order” to Jones, which prohibited him from contacting Casada. Days later, Jones received a revocation of his bond because of an email he had supposedly sent to Speaker Casada AFTER the no-contact order, on March 1, according to an email printout sent by Casada’s office to the D.A.
But Jones had done no such thing. We now know the email in question was actually sent BEFORE the no-contact order.
Was it a “computer glitch”? An I.T. issue, as the legislature’s I.T. department has said?
These are questions that need answering. It will not, however, be District Attorney Funk who answers them.
Funk has recused himself from handling the case, according to a spokesman with his office, because his office was the recipient of the email whose date of receipt has come into question, and therefore Funk believes his office’s role as a potential witness puts him in conflict.
Instead, Funk referred the case to the District Attorneys General Conference, an umbrella group that oversees all the judicial districts in the state of Tennessee, which has since assigned the case to the Coffee County District Attorney’s office.
Why Coffee County? According to someone at the District Attorneys General Conference office, that process involves ruling out districts that are too close or too far away, checking availability, and then choosing from the districts that remain.
Coffee County’s District Attorney is Craig Northcott.
Craig Northcott has made it very clear in a Facebook conversation with the chair of the Coffee County Young Republicans that he believes the ideology of Muslims to be “evil”.
Extended excerpts from the conversation between District Attorney Craig Northcott and Daniel Berry, chair of the Young Republicans, follow below, but here are a few direct quotes from Northcott:
“Their (Muslims) belief system is evil, violent, and against God’s Truth.”
“They are evil because they profess a commitment to an evil belief system… They are no less evil because they don’t act on their belief system if they refuse to disavow that system.”
“It is no different than being part of the KKK, Aryan Nation, etc. if you support those viewpoints, you are rightly and readily condemned in our society. However, it is now politically incorrect to take a stand against Islam that has the same core of hate.”
“standing firm in God’s Truth which directly opposed to Islam will always be at the center of my position.”
“to deny their religion teaches hate is a denial of the truth”
“There are no constitutional rights. There are God given rights protected by the constitution. If you don’t believe in the one true God, there is nothing to protect. No one other than God has given us any rights.”
To be clear, Justin Jones is not a Muslim. He is a Christian who attends Vanderbilt Divinity School.
Still, Northcott’s Islamophobic beliefs would seem to be a problem not only for his involvement in the Justin Jones case – since Jones is a civil rights advocate who fights for the rights of people of color, and minorities in general – but also for his ability to perform his duties as District Attorney in general.
What follows are excerpts from Northcott’s conversation on Facebook with Berry.
The original post is Berry’s, asking if it’s ever “acceptable” to stereotype an entire group:
After a lengthy back and forth between Berry and other Facebook users about whether or not stereotyping Muslims is OK – during which Berry takes the position that it is not – someone then chimes in with an image from www.TheReligionOfPeace.com which makes the claim that “nearly 35,000 deadly terror attacks have been carried out by Islamic Terrorists since 9/11”:
Berry responds that even if that were true, that would mean in infinitesimally small % of Muslims had committed those atrocities: “So let’s damn 1.8 Billion people because of the actions of (a few). That seems pretty logical to me.”
That’s when District Attorney Northcott jumps in.
Right off the bat Northcott says “Their belief system is evil, violent, and against God’s Truth… they are taught to commit many atrocities in the name of their ‘God’ including pedophilia, beating of their wives, female genital mutilation, and ‘honor’ killings… they are evil because they profess a commitment to an evil belief system.”
As for who the “They” are, Northcott indicates he doesn’t just mean those who kill, but Muslims in general: “They are no less evil because they don’t act on their belief system if they refuse to disavow that system. Romans 1:32 comes to mind in which we are taught that you are just as guilty before God if you give approval to those who engage in evil acts. It is no different than being part of the KKK, Aryan Nation, etc. if you support those viewpoints, you are rightly and readily condemned in our society. However, it is now politically incorrect to take a stand against Islam that has the same core of hate. I do not hate the individual but I will not be cowered into pretending that their belief system is legitimate or one of peace.”
Northcott goes on to point to “what is happening in Europe” as evidence.
Berry responds by pointing out that not all Muslims are the same, just as not all Christians are the same, and that the barbaric “customs” Northcott mentioned are only carried out by a few and not part of the religion millions upon millions of Muslims follow. He also addresses many other “misconceptions” in Northcott’s post.
Berry concedes there are dangerous sects of Islam, but that the vast majority are peaceful people. He then suggests they continue the conversation in person, and says anti-Islam ideas Northcott is describing will not be the position of the Young Republicans of Coffee County, because he and other members believe that “close-minded mentality” and “negativity” is why people won’t join.
Northcott does not agree: “Just because some claim to not hold to some of it doesn’t change the fact that it is the core of Islam. Just because some actual or professed Christians disavow God’s Truth on marriage doesn’t make it any less part of Christianity. Falling for political correctness or an individual’s take on Islam is dangerous.”
Berry then tries to impart to Northcott that at the very least vilifying Muslims shouldn’t be at the forefront of what Republicans do, because it doesn’t help the people of Coffee County and takes away from “actual issues” – but Northcott doesn’t go with him on with that.
Northcott: “If the Republican Party doesn’t stand for anything, it has no reason to exist. The whole purpose is so citizens can know what the core values of a candidate are if they run as a Republican. If that makes me closed minded, so be it. Frankly, I find that our community and country are crying out for people with principles and the courage to stand up for them.”
Berry then says he trusts Northcott and law enforcement to protect from Islamic extremism or hate crimes, to which Northcott responds he “will work for our community, but standing firm in God’s Truth which directly opposed to Islam will always be at the center of my position.”
Islamophobia isn’t just something he dabbles in, it’s “the center.”
Berry then goes on to explain that he’s not defending those who are violent or extreme, and again reiterates that not all Muslims are. He says he believes there are many misconceptions he’s trying to counter, and that he doesn’t believe “the best way to go about moving people away from Islam (if that is the goal) is to go around and label everyone as a terrorist threat. That pushes people away and isolates them further which in turn has the opposite of the intended effect.”
Northcott answers by telling Berry he finds it “extremely offensive that you chose Easter weekend to be an apologist for Islam,” and says the focus should be on Christ instead and the “historical facts” of Christ’s return, and that whoever believes them “is saved and will spend all eternity in Heaven with God.”
Berry asks D.A. Northcott “not to label him as an apologist simply because you disagree with or don’t understand my stance, to which Northcott decides to summarize it all and then he’s “moving on”.
To summarize, Northcott turns to bullet points.
#1 is that Berry saying Christians and Muslims worship the same God is “blasphemy”.
#2 is that he’s troubled Berry hasn’t cited any scripture, only the Koran.
But #3 is the kicker…
3) There are no constitutional rights. There are God given rights protected by the constitution. If you don’t believe in the one true God, there is nothing to protect. No one other than God has given us any rights.
Quite a statement from a District Attorney.
In bullet point #4 Northcott says if being D.A. means he has to stay silent on this, he doesn’t want his job: “I will not be silenced by implications that I am not and can not do my job correctly if I don’t agree with you. If I have to remain silent and not give a defense of the Gospel, I don’t want my job.”
He then says he’s “clearly” not required to stay silent because he has freedom of speech.
In #5 Northcott says “to deny their religion teaches hate is a denial of the truth” – then goes on to tell Berry where to find *better* info about Islam.
Did #3 concern you? It concerned Berry too.
Berry says, “I would argue #3 disqualified you from being D.A.”
Berry says Northcott represents “EVERY SINGLE PERSON” as an elected official regardless of their beliefs, “Not just Christians,” and says #3 concerns him greatly because he swore an oath to uphold the Constitution.
Northcott then elaborates on #3, adding that “Rights come from God”, and therefore “if there is no God there is nothing to protect”.
Berry says one of those rights is the freedom of religion and asks if Northcott defends that right regardless of which religion it is. Northcott responds by citing the Declaration of Independence and says the Founding Fathers asserted our “self-evident” rights come from God, and among them is the freedom of religion – even if it means not worshipping Him: “So, yes, freedom of religion comes from God even when that freedom results in rejecting him.”
Northcott says he does defend the right to freedom of religion, as long as nobody gets hurt, but again reminds Berry he thinks Islam = Hate: “No one including myself or the government can stop the mental attitude of hate.”
He then goes on to say Berry saying bullet point #3 disqualified him from office was said “without factual basis” and therefore “ends up just harming your (Berry’s) credibility.
Berry seems relieved Northcott does defend Freedom of Religion, and suggests Northcott’s bullet point #3 where he says “there are no Constitutional rights” was “easily misinterpreted” by anyone reading it.
Berry apologizes to Northcott, and elaborates on his views.
Northcott accepts his apology, and offers to come by and teach on the subject of the role of Christians in government (which does not seem to subscribe to the separation of church and state).
In summation, the man now in charge of Justin Jones case thinks Islam is”evil” and on par with the KKK, and that there’s no such thing as constitutional rights, only rights the one true God gave us that the constitution upholds.
Northcott has also “liked” the page of Act! For Coffee County, the Coffee County chapter of Act for America, which the Southern Poverty Law Center designates as a hate group.
When contacted for comment by the Holler, Northcott responded:
“The laws protect everyone equally. I judge every situation based up on the facts and circumstances… you assess each individual as you find them, but the ideology is evil.”
While Berry told us:
“I was a little alarmed in the statement he made regarding that ‘all rights come from the one true God.’ Coming from a prosecutor, that’s a little alarming. I believe religion is separate from the law. When you become an elected official it’s ok to hang onto those beliefs but you have to separate those on some level.”
As for Northcott’s beliefs about Muslims, Berry says:
“I think he’s absolutely wrong in his beliefs. I understand his fear, but when I read those comments as a non-Muslim, they’re extremely offensive to me. If I were a Muslim, especially coming from a public official, I’d find that to be extremely offensive and not becoming of somebody in that position.”
Does Berry believe Justin Jones should be concerned about Northcott’s ability to oversee a case like this?
“I would be extremely concerned if I was an activist (like Jones) fighting for those rights and that was the person on my case, having read those comment. I would question his ability to be fair.”
If after reading all of this you agree that Justin Jones – and people of color, and Muslims in general – may have a hard time getting justice from a man who holds these beliefs, feel free to holler at District Attorney Northcott HERE.