The Sussex County Republican Committee is being criticized for Twitter posts that called the world's second-largest religion a "cult," that called for America to "eradicate Islam from every town, city, county and state in our homeland," and that referred to members of congress as "stupid bitches" and "Whores of Babble-on," according to a North Jersey Record report.

The Twitter account has been made private with only "approved followers" able to view is content.

Chairman Jerry Scanlan, who also is a trustee of the Sussex County Community College, stood by the comments and took to his organization's Facebook page to criticize Gov. Phil Murphy for attempting to "change the subject in Sussex County," where a county ballot question was planned in order to determine local support for the Murphy administration's policy of limiting law enforcement cooperation with federal immigration officials.

Scanlan's posts referred to Muslim U.S. Reps. Ilahn Omar, D-Minn., and Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., as well as U.S. Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., the same targets of President Donald Trump as well as Toms River school board member Daniel Leonard, whose comments about Islam and the congresswomen also have led to calls for his resignation.

"I find it shocking that Murphy found local Democrats to do this for him," Scanlan wrote. "The people of Sussex County do not support the radical policies of the four members of Congress that some local Democrats turned up in support of. They have made vicious anti-Semitic statements and are the authors of the most economically dangerous legislation in the history of our Republic – including the Green New Deal. I stand by my wholehearted opposition to the policies they promote."

The rest of the committee, however, distanced itself from Scanlan's posts, saying that any comments or retweet prior to Thursday "should be considered the opinion solely of Mr. Jerry Scanlan."

On Thursday, the committee issued a statement saying that Scanlan "has agreed to remove himself from involvement in any social media platform concerning the Sussex County Republican Committee.

The vice chairwoman of the committee, Jill Space, is the wife of Assemblyman Parker Space, R-Sussex, who caused a minor stir in 2017 when he posted a picture of him and his wife posing with a Confederate flag that had the face of singer Hank Williams.

Scanlan did not immediately return a request for comment.

Scanlan is the latest political and school official in the state to face heat this month over comments regarding Islam and the Democratic congresswoman.

In Toms River, Leonard was criticized for numerous social media posts denigrating Islam and for a post in which he hoped for the death of Tlaib.

Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver, who is acting as governor during Murphy's vacation, and the Toms River school board president have called for Leonard to step down. He is up for re-election in November. Leonard has defended his posts but said he would be more careful with what he posts.

Assemblyman Jamel Holley, a Democrat from Union County, said the comments by the two officials is an example of a trickle-down effect caused by President Donald Trump. He called on Leonard to resign.

“It's unfathomable that in 2019 and in one of the most diverse states and nations in the world, we must continue to deal with unrelenting hatred surfacing in our communities," Holley said in a statement Friday.

“This is a clear example of the game 'follow the leader.’ The racist and personally degrading remarks we’ve heard out of the White House over the last week have given a false perception to many that it is acceptable to insult and threaten others even from an elected office."

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ

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