The Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson on Sunday marked his surge to within one percentage point of the frontrunner Donald Trump with a return to his controversial comments about whether a Muslim could become US president.

The retired neurosurgeon told ABC any Muslim would have to “subjugate” some aspects of his or her faith, including Sharia law, before being elected to the White House.

Some elements of Islam, he said, were “against the rights of women, against the rights of gays”. He also said Islam “subjugates other religions, and [advocates] a host of things that are not compatible with our constitution”.

If a Muslim candidate did not renounce such aspects of his or her faith, Carson said, “Why in fact would you take that chance?”

Referring to criticism of his remark last weekend to NBC that he “would not advocate” a Muslim becoming president, Carson said: “I said anybody, doesn’t matter what their religious background, if they accept American values and principles and are willing to subjugate their religious beliefs to our constitution, I have no problem with them.”

Article VI of the US constitution states: “No religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”

The first amendment to the constitution says: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof …”

Carson is a member of the Seventh Day Adventist Church.

His struggle with the issue of religion in US public life has not damaged his poll numbers. An NBC poll released on Sunday showed him at 20% support to 21% for Trump, the long-time frontrunner for the GOP nomination in 2016.

“It reflects what we’ve been seeing out on the road,” Carson said, citing “large crowds” at his campaign events.

Asked by ABC host Martha Raddatz about his comments on Muslims and the presidency, Carson said: “What we should be talking about is Islam, and the tenets of Islam, and where do they come from?

“They come from Sharia. They come the Koran. They come from, you know, the life works and examples of Muhammad. They come from the fatwas, which is the writings of scholars.

“You know, and if you go back and you look at – what I would like for somebody to show me is an improved Islamic text that opposes Sharia. Let me see – if you can show me that, I will begin to alter my thinking on this.

“But right now, when you have something that is against the rights of women, against the rights of gays, subjugates other religions, and a host of things that are not compatible with our constitution, why in fact would you take that chance?”

Carson also said he was “certainly willing” to give Kanye West a chance as president.

The rapper said last month he might run for the White House in 2020. In an interview with Vanity Fair this week he said Carson was “the most brilliant guy”.

On ABC, Carson said: “Well, I am certainly willing to give him a chance. He’ll be able to explain things and see if he resonates with the people.”

This article titled “Ben Carson says Muslim president would have to ‘subjugate’ beliefs” was written by Martin Pengelly in New York, for on Sunday 27th September 2015 15.25 UTC

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