My Take: Muslim hearings a recruiting bonanza for Islamic extremists
Rep. Peter King is holding hearings on what he describes as the radicalization of Muslims in the United States.
March 9th, 2011
04:31 PM ET

My Take: Muslim hearings a recruiting bonanza for Islamic extremists

Editor's Note: Stephen Prothero, a Boston University religion scholar and author of "God is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions that Run the World," is a regular CNN Belief Blog contributor.

By Stephen Prothero, Special to CNN

There are all sorts of reasons to oppose Rep. Peter King’s hearings Thursday on “the radicalization of Islam in America,” but the most powerful one is the fact that they are more likely to foment radicalization than undercut it.

The civil libertarian argument — something Republicans like King used to care about — is, of course, compelling. Imagine that these hearings were on “the radicalization of Judaism in America” and that they were following on efforts to stonewall a proposed Jewish community center in Lower Manhattan by a group calling itself “Stop Judaization of America.” All Americans of good will would rightly be up in arms.

The establishment clause argument against these hearings is equally compelling. As I wrote earlier, the hearings “should be either canceled or reworked to avoid the appearance that the U.S. Congress — whose members are 90 percent Christian — is using its power, contrary to clear meaning of the establishment clause of the First Amendment, to promote Christianity at the expense of other religions.”

My objection today is more pragmatic. My objection is that these hearings will serve as a recruiting bonanza for terrorists worldwide.


- CNN Belief Blog contributor

Filed under: Church and state • Culture wars • Islam • Mosque • Muslim • Opinion • Politics • United States

Islam emerges as key issue for GOP
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich wants a federal ban on Sharia and opposes a proposed Islamic center near ground zero.
March 9th, 2011
03:03 PM ET

Islam emerges as key issue for GOP

A conservative activist who served in George W. Bush's White House, Suhail Khan has lately found himself at odds with certain figures who should be allies, like fellow activists on the right and some leading lights of the Republican Party.

Khan, a Muslim, has chafed at recent remarks about Islam from potential Republican presidential contenders like Sarah Palin, who has called on "peaceful Muslims" to oppose a proposed Islamic center near New York's ground zero, and Newt Gingrich, who has called for a federal ban on Sharia, or Islamic law.

Khan supports the New York Islamic center and says there's no threat of Sharia taking hold in the United States.

Read the full story
- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Islam • Newt Gingrich • Politics

March 9th, 2011
12:55 PM ET

Imam Rauf: Hearings send wrong message

On Tuesday, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf sat down with Eliot Spitzer on In the Arena.  Rauf said upcoming Congressional hearings will distort perceptions of the American Muslim community.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Culture wars • Islam • Muslim • New York • United States

March 9th, 2011
12:53 PM ET

Time: Giving up guilty pleasures for lent

Sure, NewsFeed isn't Catholic. (Do websites have religions? If so, we're devotees of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.) Even so, we think Lent is a great way to temporarily rid ourselves of our guiltiest of pleasures. But instead of ditching chocolate or caffeine, NewsFeed's writers are pondering 40 days without cute kitten pictures. Can we do it? Probably not. But root for us anyway.

See the gallery on TIME.com
- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Culture & Science

March 9th, 2011
12:47 PM ET

Al Qaeda trying to radicalize U.S. Muslims, congressman claims

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.

The U.S. congressman set to hold hearings this week on "radicalization in the American Muslim community" wants Americans to find out how much al Qaeda is trying to influence U.S. Muslims, he told CNN Wednesday.

"I want to determine the extent to which that radicalization is taking place, the extent to which Muslim leaders are cooperating (with authorities) in trying to stop that radicalization," Rep. Peter King, R-New York, said on CNN's "American Morning."

King said America had seen the evidence of that al Qaeda-inspired radicalization in "a number of attempted attacks which could have killed hundreds if not thousands of people," such as the failed Times Square attack and New York subway bombing plan.

Read the full story
- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Muslim • Peter King

March 9th, 2011
12:43 PM ET

Opinion: Mosques are a positive force in America

Editor's note: Karam Dana, Ph.D. is a Dubai Initiative Research Fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and a faculty member at Tufts University, where he teaches courses on Middle East history and politics. Matt A. Barreto, Ph.D. is associate professor of political science and director of the Washington Institute for the Study of Ethnicity & Race at the University of Washington, Seattle. Together, they are the co-principal investigators of the MAPOS study of American Muslims.

In 2004, Rep. Peter King stated that 80% to 85% of mosques in America were controlled by Islamic fundamentalists and amounted to "an enemy living amongst us." In 2007 he said, "Unfortunately we have too many mosques in this country" and called for FBI surveillance and infiltration of mosques because that's where terrorists were being "homegrown."

Just a month ago he repeated the claim that over 80% of mosques are controlled by radical imams. Now, he is holding a congressional hearing to expose the radical elements of Islam in America.

Read the full story
- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Muslim • Opinion

March 9th, 2011
12:37 PM ET

Peter King: The man behind Muslim hearings

Walk into Rep. Peter King's Capitol Hill office, and you are overwhelmed with how much the New York Republican is consumed by the September 11, 2001, attacks. There are photos on the walls of funerals he attended, images of a smoky Brooklyn Bridge, and baseball caps with sayings including "USS New York, Never Forget."

King says he doesn't have a monopoly on grief - but it is what drives him.

"If you ask me what I think about going to work every day, it's 9/11 and preventing another 9/11. There were too many people I knew," he told CNN in an interview in his office.

Read the full story
- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Muslim • Peter King

March 9th, 2011
09:47 AM ET

Explain it to me: What's Lent? And what are you giving up?

Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, the season when many Christians give something up in the weeks before Easter. It's a nod to Jesus' 40 days of fasting in the desert before beginning his ministry. 

Some folks are giving up Facebook. Others are cutting down on their carbon emissions.

Are you giving something up? If so, let us know - and explain your choice.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Catholic Church • Christianity • Easter • Holidays • Lent

March 9th, 2011
07:51 AM ET

Blair launches new faith films contest for youth

By Richard Allen Greene, CNN Wire Editor

Last year, Tony Blair ran a film contest for young people, inviting them to make films about faith.

His Faith Foundation was overwhelmed by the response: hundreds of entries, from Jews and Christians, Muslims and Hindus, Sikhs and humanists, on five continents around the world.

Buoyed by the success of the first "Faith Shorts" film contest, Blair is now doing it again.

He was impressed not only by the quality of the films, he said, but what they said about the people who made them.


- Newsdesk editor, The CNN Wire

Filed under: Belief • Faith • Movies • Teens • United Kingdom

About this blog

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.

March 2011