Southern Religion

Richard Land’s embrace of Peter King’s Muslim McCarthyism

The Souther Baptist Convention’s Richard Land struck an “innocent until proven guilty” pose in defense of Republican Rep. Peter King’s hearings on the “radicalization” of Muslims in the United States.

The Christian Post reported:

Dr. Richard Land, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, praised the upcoming meetings for allowing Muslim leaders to separate themselves from Islamic terrorists and establish their loyalty to the United States.

“This is a great opportunity for the Muslim community to come forward and denounce terrorism,” Land told The Christian Post on Monday.

The long-time religious freedom expert said he would advise Muslim leaders to reject the acts of American terrorists – such as that of Faisal Shahzad, who attempted to detonate a car bomb in Times Square – and to aid authorities to stop the recruitment of American Muslims by terrorist groups.

“If they (Muslims) don’t do that and attack the questioning, they’re exacerbating the problem,” Land said.

Land and King use the term “Muslim community” in the same McCarthyite way, as William Saletan explains:

Through this phrase—the “Muslim community”—King has casually substituted unnamed Muslim “leaders” for Muslim citizens as representatives of American Islam. Yesterday on MSNBC, Eugene Robinson of the Washington Post told King, “You have alleged that the Muslim American community has not been forthcoming in helping law enforcement officials deal with radicalization.” King replied: “I talk to cops and counterterrorism people on the ground all the time, and they get virtually no cooperation.” Robinson accused King of assuming “that the Muslim American community, a religious minority in this country, is somehow abetting and aiding and giving shelter to this process of radicalization, when that is clearly not the truth.” King shot back: “It is the truth.”

No it isn’t the truth.

A study released in February by the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security (a combined effort by Duke University, the University of North Carolina and the Research Triangle Institute) found that:

  1. The “number of Muslim-Americans engaged in terrorist acts” is declining. It fell “from 18 in 2009 to 10 in 2010.”
  2. When Muslim-American terrorist suspects were brought to the attention of U.S. officials, “the largest single source of initial information (48 of 120 cases) involved tips from the Muslim-American community.”

King has responded to the study with claims that off-the-record sources report the opposite. Thus neither the existence of King’s sources, nor if they exist their credibility, can be examined.

Too convenient, and so not persuasive.

As a result the onus is still on King, and therefore on Land, to demonstrate that there are in fact truly compelling reasons for the hearings, which begin Thursday.

March 9, 2011 Posted by | Politics, Uncategorized | , | Comments Off on Richard Land’s embrace of Peter King’s Muslim McCarthyism

Two thirds of Americans have heard nothing about the congressional probe on Muslims (but most support it)

A Public Religion Research Institute poll found that “two-thirds (65%) report having heard nothing at all about” upcoming congressional hearings on “alleged extremism in the American Muslim community.”

Yet, when questioned, a “majority (56%) of Americans say that” the hearings House Homeland Security Committee Chairm Rep. Peter King (R-NY) are a good idea.

Religion News Service explored the islamophoia obvious in the findings:

Peter Gottschalk, co-author of “Islamophobia: Making Muslims the Enemy,” said the findings reflect the impact of recent waves of anti-Muslim rhetoric surrounding burning the Quran and opposing the construction of mosques.

“The Muslim community has been fairly successful at demonstrating themselves as neighbors, but the question becomes are they good neighbors?” said Gottschalk, chairman of the religion department at Wesleyan University.

There is a significant relationship between that islamophobia and preference for Fox News as an information source, the Public Religion Research Institute poll found:

More than three-quarters (76%) of those who most trust Fox News say [the hearings are a] good idea compared to only 45% of those who most trust CNN and 28% of those who most trust Public television.

The survey findings also show a significant correlation between trust in Fox News and negative attitudes about Muslims. Americans who most trust Fox News are more likely to believe that Muslims want to establish Shari’a law, have not done enough to oppose extremism, and believe investigating Muslim extremism is a good idea. There are even differences among Republicans and white evangelicals who trust Fox news most and those who trust other media.

  • Republicans who say Fox News is their most trusted news source are more likely than Republicans who trust a different news source to say they are well-informed about Islam (53% to 34%). They are also more likely than Republicans who most trust other news sources to say the hearings are a good thing (82% to 60%).
  • White evangelicals who most trust Fox News are much more likely than those who trust a different news source to say they feel informed about Islam than those who trust other sources of news (70% to 37%). This same group of evangelicals is also more likely than their counterparts who most trust other news sources to say the hearings are a good thing (84% to 60%).

Fox News’ cultivation of the reflexive human fear of “the other” can have profoundly destructive consequences, as Nicole Neroulias obliquely notes in her Beliefnet blog:

As Islamophobia expert Peter Gottschalk explained, in a quote that didn’t make it into my story: “Most Americans were also in favor of the Patriot Act, because they didn’t think they were the ones who would be investigated – but, compare that to the outrage over the invasiveness of TSA screenings, which everyone experiences.”

February 18, 2011 Posted by | Poll | | 1 Comment

Look at beautiful Park51 (neither a mosque nor at Ground 0)

Park51 street view

Architectural drawings reveal a “futuristic,” latticework structure whose design is based, the project’s official twitter account tells us, on Mashrabiya and fills the interior with natural light.

Ed Pilkington writes in the Guardian:

In fact, the proposed scheme for the much-slated “Ground Zero mosque” is neither a mosque nor at Ground Zero – it is a multifaith community centre with an Islamic prayer area, two blocks north of the site where the twin towers once stood. Now, conceptual drawings of the building have been released, revealing a planned structure that is strikingly modern and in keeping with the spirit of New York’s most cutting-edge design.

. . .

Contrary to the mass of bad publicity that has been heaped on it in recent weeks, the building is designed to be multifaith and also secular.

Sharif el-Gamal, the developer of the $120m (£76m) project, told Associated Press that nearly a quarter of its space would be devoted to a sports and fitness centre, which, it is hoped, would attract New York residents of any faith and ethnicity for a fee of up to $2,700 a year per family. Another floor would be given over to a playground and childcare area.

In addition, there would be a restaurant and exhibition space, and on the 12th floor a memorial and sanctuary remembering the events of 11 September 2001 that would again be multidenominational.

. . .

Equally, at least four floors of Park51 are to be given over to a gym and spa, and only two basement floors to a Muslim prayer hall. With a restaurant, artists’ studios and a childcare centre, this $140m building clad in an abstract play of Islamic patterns could hardly be less militantly hardcore.

The Park51 Web site explains that the architectural renderings were “prepared by our Architectural Design consultants SOMA Architects. These new images display an updated exterior and provide a first look into Park51’s interior and lend some insight on how we’re envisioning the project.”

Only the most absurdly strained view of the Park51 as made visible now can be made to support objections by the Southern Baptist Convention’s Richard Land and others to its construction.

October 4, 2010 Posted by | Politics, Religion | , , , | Comments Off on Look at beautiful Park51 (neither a mosque nor at Ground 0)

Pew Forum interactive map of controversies over mosques and Islamic centers

The Pew Form on Religion & Public Life explains:

This map shows the locations of 35 proposed mosques and Islamic centers that have encountered community resistance in the last two years. Click on a location for a brief overview of the project based on news reports. In many cases, the opposition has centered on neighbors’ concerns about traffic, noise, parking and property values – the same objections that often greet churches and other houses of worship as well as commercial construction projects. In some communities, however, opponents of mosques also have cited fears about Islam, sharia law and terrorism.

While the map shows only projects that have met resistance, many mosques and Islamic centers have been built in recent years with little or no opposition. See, for example, articles in the Louisville Courier-Journal and the Associated Press about newly opened mosques in Kentucky and Pennsylvania

View and use the map here.

September 25, 2010 Posted by | Church/State, Churches, Law, Politics | , , | Comments Off on Pew Forum interactive map of controversies over mosques and Islamic centers

Candidate assumes North Carolinians are easily stampeded

Republican congressional candidate Renee Ellmers of Dunn, N.C., showed with her “victory mosque” television attack ad that she believes the people of the 2nd Congressional District can be stampeded by images of Muslims as a threat, lack a clear grasp of history and are short on devotion to religious liberty.

She used a series of false images in an attempt to create the impression that Democratic seven-term incumbent U.S. Rep. Bob Etheridge is somehow willing to contemplate construction of a “victory mosque” on “ground zero” in New York City.

Michael Biesecker of the Raleigh News & Observer dissected the ad, concluding gently that “the ad contains both factual errors and historical inaccuracies.”

The ad derives its primary energy from and deliberately fans the flames of anti-Muslim sentiment. That is, for example, the purpose of its repetition of the historically groundless term “victory mosque” and the implication that the Park51 community center is intended to be such a structure.

Ellmers’ descent to what her campaign calculates is the politically convenient demagoguery of relating Park51 to “terrorists” says nothing about her opponent.

It does speak clearly to the kind of elected official she would be — one who is willing to demean religious minorities in pursuit of political advantage and who has little respect for the intelligence of her constituents.

We’re not asking you to take our word for it.

View the ad below and decide for yourself.

[H/T: Civil Commotion]

September 24, 2010 Posted by | Politics, Religion | , | Comments Off on Candidate assumes North Carolinians are easily stampeded

There was a mosque/prayer room in the south tower

All of Richard Land’s contrived arguments about how close for a mosque is “too close” to Ground Zero for the Park51 center falls to hypocritical pieces when you realize that interred in the rubble are the remains of the mosque in the South Tower.

Call it aprayer room” if you wish.

It was on the 17th floor, and it wasn’t the only space in the towers where faithful Muslims prayed:

Moreover, the prayer room was not the only example of Muslim religious practice in or near the trade center. About three dozen Muslim staff members of Windows on the World, the restaurant atop the north tower, used a stairwell between the 106th and 107th floors for their daily prayers.

Without enough time to walk to the closest mosque — Masjid Manhattan on Warren Street, about four blocks away — the waiters, chefs, banquet managers and others would lay a tablecloth atop the concrete landing in the stairwell and flatten cardboard boxes from food deliveries to serve as prayer mats.

During Ramadan, the Muslim employees brought their favorite foods from home, and at the end of the daylight fast shared their iftar meal in the restaurant’s employee cafeteria.

After 9/11, Muslims prayed at Ground Zero for their fellow Muslims who had been irretrievably interred in the rubble.

Samuel G. Freedman of the New York Times wrote:

Fekkak Mamdouh, an immigrant from Morocco who was head waiter, attended a worship service just weeks after the attacks that honored the estimated 60 Muslims who died. Far from being viewed as objectionable, the service was conducted with formal support from city, state and federal authorities, who arranged for buses to transport imams and mourners to Warren Street.

There, within sight of the ruins, they chanted salat al-Ghaib, the funeral prayer when there is not an intact corpse.

“It is a shame, shame, shame,” Mr. Mamdouh, 49, said of the Park51 dispute. “Sometimes I wake up and think, this is not what I came to America for. I came here to build this country together. People are using this issue for their own agenda. It’s designed to keep the hate going.”

The underlying truth of the counterfactual uproar over Park51 is fanning the flames of hate, Richard.

September 16, 2010 Posted by | Politics, Religion, SBC | , , | 2 Comments

Bill Keller’s thus far nonexistent ‘old-time evangelism center’

From Baptists Today we learned of a Christian Post story which reports as fact that “fiery preacher” Bill Keller will open an “old-time evangelism center” on Jan. 1, 2011, near Ground Zero as somehow a responce to Park 51. Although Daniel Bates of the London Daily Mail is more careful, and writes:

Bill Keller said he is raising funds to build a house of worship within a few blocks of where terrorists flew planes into the Twin Towers on September 11, 2001. … he plans to open his Christian centre on January 1 next year.

Indeed, the Christian Post’s Victor Anderson unabashedly reports:

After the conclusion of 2010, the permanent location will be open seven days a week to “combat this new evil being constructed near ground zero” and to “bring people the Truth of God’s Word and the love and hope of Jesus Christ,” referring to the proposed $100 million, 13-story Islamic cultural center and mosque that has ruffled feathers across the nation.

Meanwhile, Keller held services Sunday for 55 in a room at the New York Mariott Downtown Hotel.

The New York Times Fernanda Santos reported that at his Sunday service:

Mr. Keller promoted his center, which he called the 9/11 Christian Center at Ground Zero, as a religious counterweight to the mosque, which he repeatedly called a “victory mosque” or a monument to “a great Muslim military accomplishment,” as he explained it at the inaugural service at the New York Marriott Downtown Hotel on West Street, two blocks south of ground zero.

Mr. Keller also described the conservative broadcaster Glenn Beck, who is a Mormon, and Feisal Abdul Rauf, the imam who is behind the Muslim community center, as followers of false faiths. Later, he called the mosque’s potential worshipers guilty of terrorism by association, saying it was “their Muslim brothers” who “flew airplanes into the World Trade Center towers and killed 3,000 people.”

Both mainstream daily newspaper reporters understand that Keller’s ambitious self-promotion is newsworthy, but does not bring magically into existence the center for which he is attempting to raise money.

Thus far what he’s doing is more a newsworthy stunt amid chaotic Islamophobia than the launch of a project.

September 7, 2010 Posted by | Cults, Politics, Religion | , , , | 1 Comment

The act of an individual, not expressive of an entire faith

Assuming Nidal Hasan was driven by his religion to kill 13 and wound 31 at Fort Hood is akin to judging Christianity by the actions Timothy McVeigh, who was executed for his role in the Oklahoma City bombing which killed 168 people.
So argued Bruce Prescott, executive director of Mainstream Oklahoma Baptists on his Nov. 8 “Religious Talk [mp3]” radio program. He said:

The problem is with the individual. It’s not with the faith.

Prescott’s guest, Razi Hashmi, Executive Director of the Oklahoma Chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR-OK), said [mp3]:

This is really, really upsetting, because this reall violates the tenets and the principles of my faith, and I believe of Islam. And it is very unfortunate that this happened. But we shouldn’t use it as an issue of religion, and it shouldn’t be framed in that way. I think it concerns some greater issues, such as mental health and the harmful consequences of war. There are many Muslims that proudly and patriotically serve in the American military. About 20,000.

. . .

There’s a verse in the Quran that speaks to this, that if you kill one innocent human being, it’s as if you have killed all of humanity. Conversely, if you have saved one innocent life, it’s as if you have saved all of humanity. It shows the sanctity of human life in the Quran, and it mentions this many, many times.

Prescott and Hashmi touched on the “fear mongering” of the “extreme right wing” in response to the Texas tragedy.

The independent Associated Baptist Press both failed to report that in its mentioned a reference to Islamophobia in its account of the interview, and subsequently imported the rightist view from the blog of Bryan Fischer, director of issues analysis for the American Family Association. They quoted Fischer as writing, “This is not Islamophobia. It is Islamo-realism.”

Faith in Public Life’s Bold Faith Type blog published an inclusive survey of Muslim voices denouncing the Fort Hood shooting.

Our view of the incident is here.

November 10, 2009 Posted by | Religion | , , , | Comments Off on The act of an individual, not expressive of an entire faith