By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor
Clergy from across the nation's religious spectrum condemned Muslim radicalization hearings by Rep. Peter King, R-New York, which they said unfairly targeted Muslims. The clergy spoke at a press conference Thursday in the Cannon Congressional office building, one floor below the radicalization hearings.
The clergy group called Shoulder-to-Shoulder came from Protestant, Catholic, and Evangelical churches; Conservative, Reform, and Orthodox temples; and mosques. Group members said violent extremism was a threat to national security, but it was morally wrong to lump all Muslims into the category of violent extremists.
"We also stand shoulder-to-shoulder in opposing the singling out of any one religious community in a way that would cast unwarranted suspicion on that part of the American population," the Rev. Michael Kinnamon, general secretary of the National Council of Churches, said.
By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor
"You have to wait in line sir," a staff member from the House Homeland Security Committee politely told a man as he tried to walk into Cannon Room 311.
She directed him to the back of a long line outside the hearing room for the committee's hearing on "The Extent of Radicalization in the American Muslim Community and that Community's Response." The 120 seats in the gallery of the hearing room at the Cannon House Office Building were full and had been all morning.
Muslims and Christians mingled politely as people from across the country patiently waited for their chance to go inside.
Two interns from Utah shared a pair of headphones and listened to the hearings on the C-SPAN I-Phone app while they waited to get in, long after the hearing had begun.
Editor's Note: CNN’s Soledad O’Brien chronicles the fight over a mosque’s construction in the heart of the Bible Belt. “Unwelcome: The Muslims Next Door” airs at 8 p.m. ET March 27 on CNN.
A congressional panel looking into the radicalization of Muslim Americans convened Thursday to hear testimony, some emotional, from proponents of stronger action to limit the threat of homegrown terrorism as well as critics opposed to sweeping stereotypes.
Despite strong criticism from Muslim Americans and accusations of a McCarthyist revival, House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Peter King, R-New York, defended the controversial hearing as neither "radical or un-American."
"Let me make it clear today that I remain convinced that these hearings must go forward - and they will," King said.
The Dalai Lama announced Thursday his plan to retire as political head of the Tibetan exile movement, according to his website.
"Tibetans need a leader, elected freely by the Tibetan people, to whom I can devolve power," the exiled spiritual leader said in a statement. "Now, we have clearly reached the time to put this into effect."
The Dalai Lama remains the head of state for now, according to Tempa Tshering, his representative in India, and will remain the group's spiritual leader.
Editor's note: Peter Bergen is CNN's national security analyst and the director of national security studies at the New America Foundation, where Andrew Lebovich is a program associate.
Last month, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano said the threat of terrorism to the United States is at its "most heightened" since the September 11, 2001, attacks - a threat that she asserted has taken on a new and disquieting form because of the growing emphasis by Islamist terrorist groups on recruiting Americans.
Napolitano's warning came at the first in a series of hearings convened by the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, Rep. Peter King, R-New York, who is determined to investigate what he terms the radicalization of Muslim-American communities, a problem he says is compounded by their lack of cooperation with law enforcement.
On Ash Wednesday, CNN.com Religion Editor Dan Gilgoff did a video piece (above) explaining Lent and asked what you're giving up for the season.
The response was overwhelming. Here's a sample of what you said:
On the topic of why Lent matters, Caranina wrote:
Lent is also a season of giving, not only of "giving up" something. Help the poor, give a prayer, do something positive and helpful, every day for 40 days, don't swear nor complain.
The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.