Do Baptists Support Mosque at Ground Zero?

Everything within you right now is probably saying, “Of course not!”

Wrong. Wayne Rhodes let me know about this article. You won’t believe it…especially if you consider yourself to be a Baptist.

Religious leaders line up behind Ground Zero mosque

‘We have the right to the free exercise of our faith’

Hundreds of protesters rally against the proposed Ground Zero Islamic mosque as thousands turned up to show support or opposition to the proposed Islamic mosque and community center on September 11, 2010 in New York City.    UPI /Monika Graff Photo via Newscom

The Anti-Defamation League, responding to the public rejection of the idea of an Islamic mosque near Ground Zero in New York, has assembled an “Interfaith Coalition on Mosques” to offer support for the right to build religious facilities.

The group includes clergy from a multitude of faith traditions, including Executive Director Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission.

Land said the purpose for the coalition is clear.

“To help support the First Amendment for all Americans – we have the right to the free exercise of our faith without the interference of the government. For over a hundred years, the Supreme Court has ruled that’s not just the federal government, it’s all government,” Land stated.

“We agree with that as Baptists. We believe that people have the freedom to worship and to express their faith and to have houses of worship in the places where they live,” Land added.

However, Americans for Peace and Tolerance founder and president Charles Jacobs says the coalition project proves the ADL has lost its sense of purpose.

“This is the latest liberal outrage of the month. The ADL’s mission, what it raises money for, is the protection of the Jewish people from Jew hatred and there’s been an enormous rise in anti-Semitism around the globe, even in America,” Jacobs explained.

“One has to conclude that the ADL is disconnected from the Jewish people,” Jacobs said.

He said if the actual numbers of attacks against either Muslims or Jews are considered, Jews are still the most frequent target.

“There are ten times more attacks on Jews in America than there are against Muslims. Even with that figure, Jews don’t go around claiming there’s a great ‘Jew-o-phobia in America,” Jacobs added.

Jacobs use of the phrase, “Jew-o-phobia” is a word play on the term Islamophobia, a word that appears at the top of the website for the Council on American and Islamic Relations. The site features a video on Islamophobia produced by CAIR and the national and Washington units of the ACLU.

According to ADL, other members of the coalition are Saud Anwar of the American Muslim Peace Initiative, Elliott Cosgrove of Park Avenue Synagogue, C. Welton Gaddy of the Interfaith Alliance, Katharine Henderson of Auburn Theological Seminary, Paul Peter Jesup of the Ukrainian Orthodox Autocephalus Church, Guy Massie of the Diocese of Brooklyn and others.

An Islamic monitoring group, Islam Watch, pointed out that CAIR and other Muslim groups successfully have portrayed themselves as victims. Islam Watch writer Amil Imani says most Muslims are paranoid.

“As a group, Muslims are paranoid and suffer chronically from the disease of victimization. That is, they either victimize the helpless whenever and wherever they can, or scream murder against the strong. This mentality is one of the many bequests that Muhammad left for his Ummah,” Imani said.

Land said he joined the coalition because he believes the religious liberty of Muslims is under attack.

“At this present moment, it’s Muslims who are victims. We have a case right here in Murfreesboro, Tenn., for instance, where there’s been vandalism and arson in an attempt to stop a mosque from being built,” Land continued.

Land continued by speaking in favor of the Muslim group trying to build the mosque.

“They’ve crossed all the ‘T’s’ and dotted all the ‘I’s’. They’ve gotten through all of the zoning requests and people have resorted to violence to keep them from having a place of worship where they live. And we believe that’s un-American,” Land argued.

However, Jacobs says that the Murfreesboro mosque is not simply an innocent object of anti-Muslim prejudice.

“The ADL just filed a brief in support of the Islamic Center in Murfreesboro, Tenn., and they have a board member named Mosad Rawash, who is a supporter of Hamas,” Jacobs explained.

“He’s asked the mosque members to sign a pledge supporting violent jihad and martyrdom of Palestinian fighters against the Israelis. It is beyond bizarre how the ADL could support such mosque leadership,” Jacobs added.

“Americans are amazingly tolerant and the claim that Muslims are victims of Islamophobia is just bogus,” Jacobs observed.

Land’s support of the Murfreesboro mosque in light of its connection to Hamas is a major reason Crosstalk show host and religious liberty analyst Ingrid Schlueter expressed concern over Land’s position.

“If Richard Land showed one tenth as much zeal in defending sound biblical doctrine as he has in promoting the expansion of Islam through mosques, we might have a Reformation in the Southern Baptist Convention,” Schlueter remarked.

“As it stands, Land is aiding and abetting the relentless march of Islam in the West. Ironically, he does it in Jesus name,” Schlueter said.

Jacobs says the “relentless march of Islam in the West” is largely the product of the media and complicit liberal intellectuals.

“What is this all about? It’s an attempt to force the liberal vision on the rest of the (Jewish) community. They’re going to be dividing the Jewish community over this and they’re playing right into the hands of the enemies of the Jewish community,” Jacobs observed.

“So what the liberal Jews have done is turned Jewish teaching around. It looks like the ADL’s mission is no longer the defense of the Jewish people in these dangerous times, it’s the defense of the liberal dream,” Jacobs added.

The ADL Coalition website says, “Working under the sponsorship of the Anti-Defamation League, which initiated the concept, ICOM will carefully monitor incidents of mosque discrimination around the country, gather facts and analyze the information, and speak out when appropriate to help Muslim communities who are encountering prejudice.”

The open-ended statement of support is an issue for those concerned about the expansion of Islam in the United States.

A conservative rabbi who spoke on condition of anonymity said the issue isn’t interfaith relations.

“Interfaith dialogue is not the issue. The issue is who’s funding the mosques, who’s supporting the mosques and who’s paying for the educational materials in the mosques.”

In a recent story in WorldNetDaily, American Family Association culture analyst Bryan Fischer reported that 80 percent of the funding for mosques in the United States comes from Saudi Arabia.

Land says that he’s not sure of that percentage, and equated Saudi mosque funding to Christian missions.

“There are lots of Christian churches in other countries where more than 80 percent of them are funded by American Christian missionary money. And we would say that founding those mosques, or giving money to start those mosques – you’re free to do that.

“We’re not going to say you can’t do that because it’s a particular form of faith,” Land stated.

Land says that Saudi money for mosques should be allowed even though the Saudis also pay for jihad-promoting religious materials for those mosques.

“We have to deal with how each mosque and how each imam interprets jihad. We know that there are many different interpretations of jihad just as there are different interpretations of ‘crusade.'” Land emphasized.

Regardless of the difference of American opinion on the meaning of jihad, Islamic law is clear.

In his exposition of Islamic Law, Reliance of the Traveller, Ahmad Ibn Naqib al Misri, translated by Nuh Ha Mim Keller, writes in Section 09.0 that “Jihad means war against non-Muslims.”

Land is firm in his support for the ADL’s coalition mission even though it requires him to stand up for the rights of Muslims.

“The one thing we should never do is to allow any government … to decide which religions are kosher and which ones are not,” Land stated. “Whenever we allow other’s religious freedom to be diminished, we set the stage for our religious freedoms to be diminished as well.”

Jacobs reflects on the whole issue and concludes that at its heart, the issue isn’t religious freedom. It’s the ADL and misplaced priorities.

“The biggest threat to Jewish life is Islamic anti-Semitism. Number two: They’ve run away from that path because it’s not politically correct or because they’re afraid. And number three, they’re being played like a violin by this whole political strategy of saying there’s a wave of Islamophobia,” Jacobs stated.

The Anti-Defamation League did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

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