The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), a U.S. Muslim Brotherhood entity, is hard at work developing interfaith political alliances. Of these partnerships, Baptist leaders have proven to be among the tightest.
In its latest newsletter, ISNA promotes an article by Rev. Brent Walker, Executive Director of the Baptist Joint Committee on Religious Liberty. Walker boasts of how his organization stood with ISNA against “misguided congressional investigations of terrorism focused only on Islam.”
The ISNA official that Walker specifically references as a friend is Sayyid Syeed, former ISNA Secretary-General and current director of its Office for Interfaith and Community Alliances. In 2006, he was recorded stating, “Our job is to change the constitution of America.”
This comment is less surprising when you consider ISNA’s background. A 1991 U.S. Muslim Brotherhood memo identifies it as one of its fronts for its “kind of grand jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within.” The federal government acknowledged ISNA as a U.S. Muslim Brotherhood entity when it designated the group as an unindicted co-conspirator in the Hamas-financing trial of the Holy Land Foundation, a “charity” housed inside ISNA. The group continues to promote Sharia.
The Baptist Joint Committee’s website showcases a suit against the NYPD for its intelligence-gathering program by the American Civil Liberties Union, which has connections to the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood network. The complaint states that the NYPD “imposed an unwarranted badge of suspicion and stigma on law-abiding Muslim New Yorkers.”
In its latest magazine, ISNA attacks the NYPD and makes the ludicrous statement that “Muslim terrorism is not a threat after 9/11.” Walker likewise downplays the threat, saying that although Islamic terrorism “must be resisted with all our might,” he guesses that “99.99%” of Muslim-Americans are patriotic and opposed to extremism.
Unfortunately, polls show there is a formidable Islamist minority. In a 2011 Pew poll, five percent viewed Al-Qaeda very or somewhat favorably. Another 11% said they only viewed the terrorist group “somewhat unfavorably.” Another 14% chose not to answer the question.
Walker provides a review of some of the defining moments in ISNA’s courtship of Baptists. ISNA’s Syeed helped put together the first National Baptist-Muslim Dialogue in Boston in January 2009. One of the leaders was Dr. Roy Medley, General Secretary of American Baptist Churches USA. Other involved groups included the Alliance of Baptists, the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and the Baptist World Alliance. According to ISNA, about 100 Baptist and Muslim leaders participated.
The second National Baptist-Muslim Dialogue sponsored by ISNA was held in December 2012, partially paid for with a grant from the Boston Baptist Social Union. Other sponsors included American Baptist Churches USA, the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, the Alliance of Baptists, the Progressive National Baptist Convention, the Lott Carey Foreign Mission Society and the Andover Newton Theological School.
Over 75 Baptist and Muslim leaders took part. Obama Administration officials even came: Rashad Hussain, the U.S. Envoy to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and Ambassador Suzan Johnson Cook, Ambassador-At-Large for International Religious Freedom.
ISNA’s website lists three Baptist groups as official interfaith partners: American Baptist Churches USA, the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and the Progressive National Baptist Convention. All three also belong to the ISNA-allied interfaith coalition named the Shoulder-to-Shoulder Campaign. When ISNA officials recently met with Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan, the Shoulder-to-Shoulder Campaign was highlighted as one of their top achievements.
ISNA has leveraged its interfaith relationships as a tool to paint its critics as anti-Muslim bigots. On January 15, ISNA sponsored an event about the "Islamophobia Network" at the First Congregational United Church of Christ in Washington, D.C. One of the speakers was Rev. Dennis Wiley, co-pastor of the Covenant Baptist United Church of Christ.
ISNA took action when four members of Congress (Reps. Bachmann, Gohmert, Franks, Westmoreland and Rooney) wrote well-documented letters requesting investigations into the relationships between the U.S. government and Brotherhood-linked groups and individuals. ISNA and its allies went into overdrive, generating heaps of negative media coverage of them.
One of the ways they accomplished this was through their interfaith partners. A coalition of 43 interfaith groups wrote a public letter on July 26, 2012 defending ISNA, Muslim Advocates and the Muslim Public Affairs Council of having “long-standing histories of positive and committed work to strengthen the United States of America.”
The coalition said that the letters “betray our foundational religious freedoms.” They vowed, “We will not stand idly by and allow our country to revive federal investigations into innocent individuals based on their religious adherence.”
The Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty was one of the signatories. The supposedly non-political dialogue with ISNA had political benefits.
This is only a small taste of what’s going on around the country.
This article was sponsored by the Institute on Religion and Democracy.
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