COMING SOON, TO A TERRORIST RECRUITING VIDEO NEAR YOU…. There’s already a mosque in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, but as Islamic population grows in the area, there are plans to build a Muslim community center, which would include a pool and gym.

Local officials have already approved the plan to build the facility, but right-wing bigots in Murfreesboro are organizing in larger numbers to speak out against the community center.

With this in mind, Tennessee Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, a Republican gubernatorial candidate popular with Tea Party zealots, was asked at a recent event, “We’ve got a threat that’s invading our country from the Muslims. What’s your stand on that?” He replied by suggesting Islam might not be a religion that qualifies for protection under the First Amendment.

…Ramsey proclaimed his support for the Constitution and the whole “Congress shall make no law” thing when it comes to religion. But he also said that Islam, arguably, is less a faith than it is a “cult.”

“Now, you could even argue whether being a Muslim is actually a religion, or is it a nationality, way of life, cult whatever you want to call it,” Ramsey said. “Now certainly we do protect our religions, but at the same time this is something we are going to have to face.”

The gubernatorial candidate went to suggest that the law-abiding Muslims in Murfreesboro might be “bringing Sharia Law here to the state of Tennessee.”

Now, it’s tempting to approach this rationally. One might want to explain to Ramsey what the First Amendment is, and why Islam deserves as much protection as every other faith tradition. One might also be tempted to explain that the local Muslim community has expressed no interest in “bringing Sharia Law” to Murfreesboro. One might even be tempted to describe Ramsey as blisteringly stupid.

But let’s put all of that aside, and consider a separate angle: is Ramsey doing al Qaeda a huge favor?

Terrorists are desperate to convince Muslim populations that the United States is at war with Islam. Ramsey’s moronic remarks, then, are practically custom made for a recruiting video — here’s an American official, running to be the chief executive of a state, arguing publicly that every religion deserves freedom under U.S. law except Islam, which he suggests might be a “cult.” This message appeals to the American voters in the room, who make no effort to hide their hatred and mistrust of their fellow neighbors who happen to be Muslim.

I seriously doubt Ramsey is sophisticated enough to understand this, but his bigotry is the kind of approach that promotes and encourages the radicalism that undermines our security.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.