RARITAN TOWNSHIP — An elected official has walked back his comments after sharing a social media image that called the religion of Islam a "cancer."

As first reported by TapInto, Republican Deputy Mayor Louis Reiner shared a meme this week that showed a "mushroom cloud" explosion with the caption: “Some cancers must be treated with radiation. Islam is one of them.”

The post has since been deleted.

In a Facebook post Wednesday, the Raritan Township Democratic Club said, "The hate speech that is spewing from Committeeman Lou Reiner's mouth and his Facebook posts can not and should not be tolerated."

Urging the township mayor and committee to call for Reiner to step down, the party organization also said "Racist and Islamophobic remarks, such as the ones made by Councilman Reiner or any other elected official are simply not acceptable."

Reiner then issued an apology, in a statement given to InsiderNJ, which read: “I sincerely regret my Facebook post yesterday using a poor choice of words, seemingly calling the entire Islamic faith violent. My intentions were to highlight the radical fringe jihadists who have highjacked their faith."

The statement to InsiderNJ added: "We need more people of faith in our society today. I offer this apology to the vast majority of Muslims who practice their faith peacefully and contribute greatly to our community.”

It's not the first time an elected official in NJ has been criticized for sharing inflammatory social media content in the past few months.

South River school board member Kevin Nielsen spent years posting anti-Islam messages on his Facebook page during the years that he was working as a police officer.

Over the summer, a Board of Education member in Toms River sparked protests by sharing multiple memes and comments on Facebook that have been described as hate speech and anti-Muslim.

Dan Leonard, who has resisted calls to step down but who has ended his re-election campaign amid the public turmoil, has said his posts all were taken out of context.

He previously told New Jersey 101.5 in July that "there is a difference between being Anti-Muslim and Anti-Sharia Law! I am Anti-Sharia Law as should every United States Citizen!"

Also over the summer, the Sussex County Republican Committee Chairman was criticized for Twitter posts that called the world's second-largest religion a "cult" and that called for America to "eradicate Islam from every town, city, county and state in our homeland."

Jerry Scanlan later apologized for retweeting items that contained "off-color and inappropriate content" and called it  "human errors of judgment."

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