Religious Leaders Speak Out on King Hearings
As we approach the King hearings, more and more religious leaders are speaking out against the false premises and dangerous consequences of the upcoming hearings by Rep. Peter King on “radicalization” in the American Muslim community.
Here’s a sampling of their comments:
Michael Sean Winters, blogger at National Catholic Reporter:
These hearings have the potential to unleash the kind of unreasoning fear that only aids the terrorists in their objectives. How many times need it be said: Al-Qaeda is not Nazi Germany. It does not possess the resources of a large industrial nation of several millions of people. It cannot overrun Belgium, Holland and France in two months nor bomb London night after night with a well-armed Air Force. Al-Qaeda can only succeed if it scares us into abandoning our way of life, including the First Amendment protections and cultural dispositions against religion discrimination. Rep. King’s fear-mongering plays into Al-Qaeda’s hands.
Rabbi Mark A. Gruber and Sister Jeanne Clark, OP, local faith leaders from Long Island, in the Huffington Post:
We stand together with a broad spectrum of religious and secular leaders who believe that fighting terrorism does not require compromising our nation’s core values and highest ideals. In our experience volunteering and breaking bread with Muslims on Long Island, we are inspired by our neighbors’ commitment to worship in peace and pursue the American dream.
David Gushee, Professor of Christian Ethics at Mercer University and Co-Founder and Board Chair of the New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good, in USA Today:
King is overlooking or misstating critically important facts about what is going on in the American Muslim community. He is ignoring clear data about the full range of terror threats facing our country. His hearings have the potential to inflame already tense relations between American Muslims and the rest of their fellow citizens. And they threaten the perceived legitimacy of any practice of Islam in the United States, therefore risking one of our most fundamental liberties — freedom of religion.
Eboo Patel, founder and executive director of Interfaith Youth Core, in the Washington Post:
Now is the time for us to be united in our fight against the common challenge of domestic terrorism, not be divided by religion. Let us join together to make this nation safe for all our children. Let us collectively seek to eliminate threats regardless of the source.
J Brent Walker, executive director of the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty, in the Washington Post:
…I only wish [King] would investigate terrorism across the board, as the Congress has the right to do, not to impugn one religion – especially when that religion, Islam, is so misunderstood in our culture today.
Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite, professor at Chicago Theological Seminary and senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, in the Washington Post.
Creating enemies has never worked out well for us as a nation in the long run. Treating each other with respect and as fellow citizens, and honoring our traditions of religious pluralism has worked for us.
And polling from Public Religion Research Institute finds that King’s exclusive focus on the Muslim community is at odds with an overwhelming majority of the public, who say the hearings should be broadened to focus on religious extremism wherever it may be found rather than focusing on Muslims alone (see graph below):
Update: More religious leaders speaking out here.