Islamic Group Honors Religious Left | Mark D. Tooley | September 10, 2007

At its recent convention in Chicago, the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) honored the National Council of Churches’ top interfaith official with its “Interfaith Unity Award.”

Undoubtedly, the award was well deserved! The NCC, like most of the Religious Left, defends or accommodates radical Islam, even as it denounces “fundamentalist” Christianity and condemns Israel. Despite the Religious Left’s support for liberal social causes like same-sex unions and abortion rights, it prefers the supporters of Islamic “Sharia” law to Christians or Jews who might sometimes vote Republican.

“You are doing the will of God,” gushed NCC Associate General Secretary for Interfaith Relations Shanta Premawardhana. “You are the ones upholding faith and serving humanity. You are my sisters and brothers.” ISNA says over 40,000 of its Islamic supporters attended its annual convention.

The award inscription read: “Islamic Society of North America presents Rev. Dr. Shanta Premawardhana, a fellow activist for peace, justice and reconciliation, a ‘Christian believer’ as described in Qur’an (3:113) in recognition of his tireless contribution to advancing inter-religious dialogue and partnership, with our prayers for a continued demonstration of energy, understanding and commitment.”

Very moving. Of course, the NCC official, after receiving his award, theoretically could have used the occasion to urge the Muslim gathering to join with Christians and Jews in affirming democracy, religious liberty and human rights around the world. As “moderate” Muslims, perhaps some among ISNA might have actually listened.

Instead, Premawardhana baited the audience by attacking “far-right wing” Christians who are distressed by political Islam. He attacked the Bush Administration for its ostensible plans to attack Iran’s nuclear weapons program. And the NCC official defended Iran’s Islamist theocratic dictatorship, to which he has been a personal envoy, and insisted that Iran’s clerical tyrants accept Islam’s supposed prohibition against nuclear weapons.

If ISNA is indeed a “moderate” Muslim group, wouldn’t its supporters have their own concerns about the brutal form of political Islam that Iran’s theocrats have imposed on their suffering country since 1979? And would not the Sunni dominated ISNA strongly prefer that Shiite Iran NOT have nuclear weapons? At least from the NCC perspective, these concerns are subordinate to the more important cause of stopping the Bush Administration. Predictably, Premawardhana concluded his address to the Muslim group by inviting them to join the NCC umptenth demonstration against the Iraq War in the form of an “interfaith” fast in October, timed wonderfully to coincide with Ramadan.

ISNA President Ingrid Mattson, in introducing Premawardhana, spoke of the NCC’s “commitment to stand in partnership and solidarity with the Muslim community through some of the most difficult times of discrimination and prejudice they’ve faced, particularly since 9/11,” according to the NCC news release.

Naturally, Premawardhana did not respond that Muslims in America enjoy far more freedoms than they do in any officially Islamic country, where they are likely to be persecuted, imprisoned or killed if their form of Islam does not conform to the expectations of the state, the mullahs, or local tribal leaders.

Instead, the NCC official preferred to warn the ISNA about the “far right wing advocacy organization” for which I work, the Institute on Religion and Democracy (IRD), which mailed a book by Efraim Karsh called “Islamic Imperialism” to tens of thousands of churches across America. “”Despite it being published by Yale University Press, the book has only a thin veneer of academic scholarship,” Premawardhana asserted. “Its purpose is not to educate but to persuade towards a right-wing ideology.”

Karsh’s book details the centuries-long military conquest of Islam across Asia, Africa and into Europe from its founding until the Renaissance era. The NCC official found all of this objectionable (the book, not the conquests). “It does not seek to restore relationships as the Bible teaches, but to destroy relationships by fear-mongering,” he complained. “It tries to portray Islam as unique among religions in supporting imperial ambitions. This distorted view of history dismisses Christian support of imperialism in one sentence.” Premawardhana asserted that “all our religious traditions have legitimized imperialism,” and not Islam uniquely. “Those who promote fear mongering ideologies that strengthen divisions in human relationships, I am convinced, are not doing the will of God,” Premawardhana insisted. It’s a safe bet that he was not referring to radical Islam but to “far right wing” Christians and Jews who express concern about it.

Premawardhana boasted of his February visit with Iranian chief theocrat Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Iran’s ruling mullah’s assured an eagerly believing NCC delegation that Iran’s nuclear program is strictly peaceful, that the “only viable option in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a political one, and not a military one,” and that Iran is “eager” to engage the United States in dialogue. Unlike many politicians, the NCC official claimed that religious leaders, presumably including himself, can claim a “moral high-ground” and the “ability to speak with divine authority.” Since theocratic Iran is governed by its religious officials, presumably they can speak with far more moral and “divine” authority than any mere secular political leaders of the United States.

Complaining about President Bush’s August 28 speech to the American Legion, in which Bush warned of Iran’s support for “Shia extremism,” the NCC official fretted: “Does anyone believe that Bush will leave office without a confrontation with Iran?” Premawardhana urged: “It is time for people of faith to stand up together.”

What unites the “people of faith” that Premawardhana has in mind? What do Islamists have in common with the left-wing, heterodox Protestants who run the NCC? Almost nothing, except their shared opposition to orthodox forms of Christianity and Judaism, along with an ingrained hostility to the West and the United States in particular.

“Someone said the powers that be have a vested interest in keeping us divided,” Premawardhana warned the ISNA. Who are these “powers that be?” Certainly they do not include the tyrants and theocrats who govern much of the historic Islamic crescent, from North Africa to South Asia. Many of these tyrannies, if they care at all, are glad for left-wing Western religionists to make excuses for their despotisms while denouncing the United States.

Truly moderate Muslims, along with most Christians and Jews, will shun the NCC’s truncated vision of interfaith solidarity.


11 thoughts on “Islamic Group Honors Religious Left”

  1. This year the Justice Department is carrying on in Hughes’ damaging tradition, spending an undisclosed amount in sponsorship fees to have a presence at the convention, ostensibly to provide information regarding Muslim civil rights, a contentious issue given the strategy employed by groups like ISNA and CAIR to brand any criticism of Islam or Muslims as Islamophobia, in an attempt to prevent the obvious link between a radical interpretation of the Quran and terrorism.

    If anything, the decision by the Justice Department to sponsor a booth this year is all the more egregious, because now both ISNA and fellow travelers, CAIR have been named as unindicted co-conspirators in the largest terror prosecution in U.S. history, the Holy Land Foundation Hamas terror funding case, currently taking place in Dallas, TX.

    So, two years ago President Bush sends Karen Hughes to the ISNA’s convention, and now, despite the fact that they are implicated in funding terrorism, the Justice Department will be having a booth to help fight discrimination.

    Anyone want to hazard a guess as to why Americans are seriously and heartily sick of the Bush team?


    The religious left is bad, but we all recognize that. I’m far more concerned, as a Republican, about what our supposed ‘allies’ are doing to stab us in the back.

  2. Glenn,

    Perhaps you should include the entire GOP. I think conservatives have simply been a convienent voting block…

  3. Stunning Evidence from the Holy Land Foundation Trial

    The Holy Land Foundation (HLF) has close ties with CAIR (Council on Islamic-American relations), ISNA (Islamic Society of North America) and MSA (the Muslim-American Society). CAIR is still frequently referred to as a “civil-rights” organization by many journalists with no reference to its ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. The Holy Land Foundation and CAIR are NOT organizations which simply seek to represent Muslims in America. They are not organizations which seek to simply secure for Muslims a place in American life along side other citizens. They are organizations which have the goal of subverting and destroying our constitutional form of government.

    In support of this assertion, I provide the following quote: SOURCE:

    This quote is drawn from one of many documents seized by federal prosecutors and it was authored by agents of the Holy Land Foundation.
    The defense attorney cannot and does not contest its legitimacy, there is no question that this is a legitimate product of the staff of the HLF.

    The process of settlement [of Islam in the United States] is a “civilizational jihadist” process with all the word means. The Ikhwan must understand that all their work in America is a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and “sabotaging” their miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and God’s religion is made victorious over all religions. Without this level of understanding, we are not up to the challenge and have not prepared ourselves for Jihad yet. It is a Muslims’ destiny to perform Jihad and work wherever he is and wherever he lands until the final hou comes, and there is no espcapte from the destiny except for those who slack.

    Kind of makes you ill doesn’t it.

  4. Note 1, CFL Conservative, worse than useless Karen Hughes

    Yes, I agree. I just heard an interview with Karen Hughes in which she stated that foreign aid to the Islamic world was important because Islamic living in poverty are likely to become radicalized.

    I vented my explosive frustration out by choking an inaminate object …. a teddy bear actually. I felt slightly better after that.

    This means she is clueless, totally completely and unreservedly clueless. Mohammed Atta was a graduate student, the recent jihadis in Scotland were doctors for Pete’s sake, OBL is a millionaire.

    They are following the example of their prophet, you ninny.

    Pound. Head. Against. Wall.

  5. Befuddled –

    I’ve been pounding my head against a wall for six years now.

    Join the club.

    If you criticized Team Bush, the first thing people said on the Right was, “You don’t take the threat seriously.”

    No – I take it very seriously. Which is why I criticize Team Bush.

    And Karen Hughes.

  6. If we allow them to infiltrate our society and birth many millions of muslims, we are in trouble. Sending them aid will only allow them to keep having more children. And, as you said, economic factors don’t play the role in creating terrorists that others indicate.

  7. CFL Conservative

    Have you noticed that many American airports operate with a Muslim majority taxi fleet. This includes Minneaspolis, Indianapolis and Kansas City, perhaps many more. Many of these Muslim men are Somalis. Somali is a failed state ravaged by warlords.

    We import people who have no experience with a civilized, non-violent society. Even beyond that, they ascribe to a “religion” which expressly violates our Constitution and our laws. Our Constitution calls for separation of church and state, their religion calls for a seemless unity between the state and the mosque. Their “holy book” grants men the privilege of marrying up to four wives and the right to beat them at will. Our laws prohibit polygamy and make wife-beating illegal. Their “holy book” establishes a state in which political rights vary by gender and religion. Our Constitution declares that all adult citizens have the same political rights regardless of religion or gender.

    We IMPORT these people and place them in a ring around many of our airports.

    If we object to this process and insist that immigrants expressly embrace our Constitution and our laws as a condition of living here, we are called “racist.”

    This is truly suicidal behavior.

    As to Bush, I can only conclude that he is owned by the Saudis. People talk about the Israeli lobby, they should be talking about the Saudi lobby.

    Lord save us!!

  8. Note 10, CFL Conservative,

    This note is directed only to you CFL. I am not going to reply to any other commenters on it.

    What is called liberalism today can be considered a cultural and national death wish put into public policy.

    We give constitutional honor to the murder of children

    We indulge the sexual preferences of adults at the expense of the next generation—-gay adoption.

    We cheapen and trivialize sex, marriage and all aspects of relations between the sexes…..the example set by previous generations of husbands and wives who clung together despite adversity is mocked. Chastity and fidelity is scorned.

    We teach that marriage is an oppressive institution—-children are shunted among serial partners, step-parents, live-ins and whomever.

    We hold ancestors who liberated humanity in contempt—Founding Fathers become “dead white males.”

    We trample on our cultural treasures—the study of Greek and Latin are abandoned and consequently have only superficial knowledge of our own cultural inheritance.

    We welcome people who want to kill us— the “diversity” visa program

    We welcome people inside our country who hold our culture and system of government in contempt and wish to supplant it with an alien culture, hostile to most of what we value—–Hamas operates cultural cells inside the U.S. supplying funds to overseas operations and working to undercut our culture from within—see the HLF lawsuit

    We demonize the military and teach that evil can be contained by non-violent means….our enemies gap in delighted amazement that we have disarmed ourselves before them. The ROTC can’t come to Columbia but the Iranian thug receives a welcome and applause.

    We demonize the police and treat the violent criminal as a victim… meanwhile the true crime victims receive no public help as they have to cope with terrible losses.

    We have dumbed down education so that few students have a mastery of the English language, mathematics or science—those studies have been replaced by race, gender and sexuality studies. Some educators think that nearly an entire generation of students have missed out.

    We have degraded the honorable profession of teaching and turned it into political indoctrination—-modern schools of social work require a commitment to “social justive” which amounts to an agreement with a Leftist agenda.

    Was it this crazy before WWII? I know there were American supporters of Hitler, but, it seems that after the Pearl Harbor those folk scurried into the background. Correct me if I am wrong.

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