SD lawmaker: Interfaith dialogue is ‘part of a war’

It was Interfaith Day Wednesday at the South Dakota capitol in Pierre. About 50 people, representing several religions, gathered in the rotunda to pray; an example of people of different faiths coming together.

Then Sen. Neal Tapio, R-Watertown, the former state campaign chair for Donald Trump, happened by, the Sioux Falls Argus Leader says.

The group asked him to pose for a photo.

It was going well until Tapio shouted, “I don’t like being called a racist.”

He stressed the need to ban travel to the United States by Muslim individuals, particularly from Muslim-majority countries where groups have supported Sharia law.

“If you don’t have the freedom to leave a religion, is there a freedom of religion?” Tapio said. “And that’s the question we have to asks ourselves as a state.”

As Tapio stepped away from the group he told reporters that the interfaith day was a “political movement.”

Those on the steps continued to pose for photos, this time without him.

Around Tapio, coalition members started singing “America the Beautiful,” temporarily muffling Tapio’s comments.

In a statement, Tapio said “hiding behind an interfaith group and then using terrorist style bullying tactics in the press is a slap in the face of every patriotic American service member that signed up to defend freedom.”

Related: Republican gubernatorial candidate Phillip Parrish won’t talk with interfaith leader about faith because “Islam is ultimately not a faith” (Bluestem Prairie)