A Baptist organization committed to religious freedom for all has urged Rep. Peter King and his committee to broaden the scope of the planned hearing on the “radicalization” of American Muslims scheduled for Thursday.
Rep. King, R-N.Y., chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, has singled out the Muslim faith, says J. Brent Walker, who is the executive director of the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty.
Walker said the implied suggestion that terrorist threats to the American people result from one religious group is an insult to the millions of peaceful Muslim American citizens.
“I know a little about how this feels when last week, the Westboro Baptist Church — and their hellish, venomous speech — was thought by many to characterize all Baptists,” Walker said. “I had to remind the media that Roger Williams, Martin Luther King Jr. and Jimmy Carter are more typical of Baptists than Rev. Phelps.”
Walker said “the hearing will send a further message that Muslims present a greater threat of terrorism than other religions,” and “it would imply that the potential for terrorism from outside of Islam is not significant enough to merit a hearing.”
In a post this week for the Washington Post’s religion blog, “On Faith,” Walker wrote that it is always a threat to religious liberty for government to single out a particular faith for investigation – not just for the group investigated.
“It sets a dangerous precedent whose effect goes beyond the targeted religion,” he wrote.
“Of course, religion is sometimes the impetus for acts of terrorism,” Walker wrote. “History is replete with examples of atrocities that have been perpetrated in the name of a particular faith – be it Islam, Christianity or others. … A sweeping general equation of terrorism within Islam – or any religion – is as disingenuous as it is dangerous.
“In the case of Rep. Peter King’s upcoming hearings, it will glean very little useful information to fight terrorism, but at the least will play on wide-spread misunderstanding and stereotyping of Islam and encourage the American public to view extremist outliers of Islam as typical of the entire faith,” Walker wrote.