(KOKOMO) — An Indiana city council member who made insulting comments about Muslims on social media in 2015, years before he was elected, said he regrets posting those remarks and did so at a time when he “didn’t understand what Islam actually was.”
Greg Jones, a Republican member of the Kokomo Common Council, posted incendiary remarks about Muslims and their religious beliefs on Facebook in June 2015, the Kokomo Tribune reported.
At the time, Jones was a candidate seeking the council seat he now holds but he lost in November 2015 to the Democratic incumbent in the city of some 58,000 residents located about 40 miles (64 kilometers) north of Indianapolis.
Jones ran for the seat again last year and defeated Democrat Donnie Haworth with 54% of the vote in November. He was sworn into office on the council, where Republicans now hold a 9-0 majority, on New Year’s Day.
In his 2015 Facebook posts, Jones made insulting comments about Muslims and referred to Islam as “a Theocratic Moon Cult.” That year, he also made numerous posts about LGBTQ people, including calling homosexuality “a crime against nature.”
He told the Kokomo Tribune in an interview Monday that he regrets his comments about Muslims and no longer espouses those opinions. Jones said that since 2015 he’s researched the history of Islam and read parts of the Quran.
“I think it was in bad taste, and it was made in a sense of ignorance at that time,” he said. “… I didn’t understand what Islam actually was, and I researched more into it since then, and all that, and I’ve kind of changed my opinion about this.”
When asked about his comments about LGBTQ people, Jones said he doesn’t “agree with homosexuality” but added that “I would not stop anybody from seeking out life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
Common Council President Lynn Rudolph said he was surprised by Jones’ online comments about Islam, and said that he’s “never, ever heard him talk about those kind of issues.”
Rudolph said Jones was elected by voters in his district. “I think that we need to know what they think,” he said.