Written by Ryan Mauro
The Presbyterian Church (USA) is updating its 2010 study, ““Toward an Understanding of Christian-Muslim Relations,” which was prompted by “alarming anti-Muslim statements and actions.” The 2-million member church partnered with Islamist groups for the project and its website promotes U.S. Muslim Brotherhood entities as interfaith partners.
The listed advisors for the study include Naeem Baig, president of the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) and Farhanahz Eliz of the All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS) Center, a mosque led by the president of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA). A 1991 U.S. Muslim Brotherhood memo lists ISNA and ICNA among “our organizations and the organizations of our friends.” ISNA was labeled by the government as an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation trial and U.S. Muslim Brotherhood entity.
Another advisor was Ghulam Haider Aasi of American Islamic College. The chairman of the board of trustees is Dr. Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, the Secretary-General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. Its advisory board includes Ahmed Rehab of the Chicago chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations and Kifah Mustapha of the Mosque Foundation. CAIR and Mustapha are also unindicted co-conspirators that were listed as part of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood’s Palestine Committee. The president of the Mosque Foundation, Oussama Jamal, is also on the advisory board.
The study’s bibliography cites Tariq Ramadan, the grandson of the Muslim Brotherhood’s creator; Dr. John Esposito, one of the top allies of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood network and Ingrid Mattson, former ISNA president, described by the authors as an “excellent and readable scholar.” She is also on the International Institute of Islamic Thought’s Council of Scholars, another group mentioned in the 1991 memo.
The Presbyterian Mission Agency’s “interfaith links of interest” include CAIR, ICNA, ISNA and the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), a group founded by Muslim Brotherhood ideologues that has opposed the designations of Hamas and Hezbollah as Foreign Terrorist Organizations.
An e-mail sent to an address on the Presbyterian Mission Agency’s website was not returned.
The Presbyterian Church (USA) also whitewashed Imam Zaid Shakir and Zaytuna College in a book it published titled, “The Search for Truth About Islam: A Christian Pastor Separates Fact from Fiction” by Reverend Ben Daniel. The book “explores what he calls ‘the American cult of fear,’ particularly as it relates to the rise of Islamophobia in the United States.”
The book says that Zaytuna College, which Shakir is a founder and co-chairman of, is “filling an important niche in American higher education.” The reader is not told about his history of extremism, which includes preaching that a new Caliphate is needed to wage jihad with “weaponry against the enemies of Islam.” Instead, readers are left with the impression that Shakir is a living rebuttal to all the negative stereotypes that moderate Muslims must contend with.
What begins as an interfaith partnership often becomes a political partnership. In July 2012, the Presbyterian Church Office of Public Witness and other Christian groups came to the defense of ISNA, MPAC and Huma Abedin, the State Department appointee with Islamist links. The Presbyterian Church was offended that Rep. Michele Bachmann and four other congressmen had raised concerns about the Brotherhood links of these organizations and individuals.
The Presbyterian Church (USA) and its Islamic interfaith partners have also made common cause when it comes to Israel. The Church almost voted in favor of divestment from Israel last summer, winning praise from the director of ISNA’s Office of Interfaith Relations, Sayyid Syeed. He was previously recorded in 2006 saying, “Our job is to change the constitution of America.”
Its Israel-Palestine Mission Network endorsed the “No Blank Check for Israel” rally on January 19. It is a member of the Interfaith Boycott Coalition, the faith-based wing of the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation. The Interfaith Boycott Coalition supported the boycott of SodaStream because it is based in an Israeli settlement in the West Bank.
The revised study is scheduled to be presented during the 221st General Assembly in 2014. The current version states that Presbyterians are called to “identify and speak out against bigotry, prejudice, discrimination, and violence against Islam and Muslim peoples of all cultures, especially in the United States.”
This may be a laudable goal, but we’ve seen how these groups use “Islamophobia” as a weapon against their critics. When Rep. Bachmann and her colleagues confronted these groups, they responded by deploying the Presbyterian Church and their other interfaith partners. They were criticized as paranoid and bigoted.
The Islamists want to make the church their “Islamophobia” police and undermine American-Christian support for Israel. And they are making progress.
This article was sponsored by the Institute on Religion and Democracy.