Capitol's New Mop Sink Isn't For Foot Washing - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Capitol's New Mop Sink Isn't For Foot Washing

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In a March 13, 2013 photo, a new utility sink is installed in the men's restroom outside the House chamber in the state Capitol in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo) In a March 13, 2013 photo, a new utility sink is installed in the men's restroom outside the House chamber in the state Capitol in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Sometimes a mop sink is just a mop sink.

Building managers and legislative staffers have sought to reassure concerned Tennessee lawmakers that recent renovations at the state Capitol did not install special facilities for Muslims to wash their feet before praying.

"I confirmed with the facility administrator for the State Capitol Complex that the floor-level sink installed in the men's restroom outside the House Chamber is for housekeeping use," Connie Ridley, legislative administration director, emailed. "It is, in layman's terms, a mop sink."

The nearly $16 million renovation completed in December focused on upgrading electrical, mechanical and plumbing systems in the Capitol. Parts of the building also got new carpets, paint and security upgrades. Senate clerk Russell Humphrey said a House and a Senate member had asked him about the sink, which replaced a utility sink mounted higher on the wall that was used for filling and emptying buckets. "There was concern about why it had been modified," said Humphrey, who declined to identify the lawmakers or elaborate on their concerns.

Republican Senator Bill Ketron, R-Murfreesboro, confirmed that he had spoken to Humphrey about whether there were religious reasons for the new sink after the issue was raised by Representative Judd Matheny, R-Tullahoma.

"I just asked the question about what was the intent of that," Ketron said. "And it satisfied my curiosity after it was presented to me."

Matheny denied that he was involved in raising questions about the basin.

Muslims are required to wash their faces, hands and feet before praying as an act of ablution, or ritual purification. Forms of ablution are practiced in almost all major faiths.

Some Christians practice the ritual washing of others' feet as a sign of humility and emulating Jesus, who was said to have washed his disciples' feet before the Last Supper.

Matheny and Ketron were the main sponsors of a 2011 bill that sought to make it a felony to follow some versions of the Islamic code known as Shariah law.

(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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