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Islam Conference Receives Widespread News and Blog Coverage

PrintPosted on: August 8th, 2013 by kresta in the afternoon
Ann Arbor, Michigan
August 8, 2013

Ave Maria Radio’s August 10th Conference at Eastern Michigan University, Is Islam a Religion of Peace?, has received widespread news coverage, both positive and negative, across the world. The conference, which will include both Muslims and Christians in various debates in presentations, will cover topics such as: Does Islam Support Religious Liberty?, Is Islam a Religion of Peace?, and Does Islam Produce Democracy?, along with other pressing differences and legal concerns.

Below are some additional links to stories about the upcoming conference:

FindLaw: http://legalpronews.findlaw.com/article/08jO5kh6sIgmb

IranAware (American Infidels): http://iranaware.com/2013/07/17/robert-spencer-to-debate-muslim-scholars-on-is-islam-a-religion-of-peace-at-michigan-conference/

Nadia Sindi Facebook post: https://www.facebook.com/vote4nadiasindi/posts/481883848573277

Celebrity Balla: http://www.celebrityballa.com/2013/08/anders-behring-breivik/news-smears-detroit-patricia-free-repeats-press-robert-spence

Michiguide.com: http://www.michiguide.com/archives2013/2013/08/newsmakers-and-links-aug-7-201.html

Historyscoper / IslamWatch: http://historyscoper-islamwatch.blogspot.com.au/2013/08/catholic-radio-station-invites-robert.html

Islamic Alert: http://islamicalert.com/robert-spencer-to-debate-muslim-scholars-on-is-islam-a-religion-of-peace-at-michigan-conference.html

NewsRT-US: http://www.newsrt.us/news/catholic-radio-station-invites-anti-islam-blogger-to-speak-at-emu-1145862.html

BlogoWogo: http://www.blogowogo.com/blog_article.php?aid=5019288&t=2

Jewish Blog Network: http://www.israelforum.com/blog_article.php?aid=4985212

United Patriots Worldwide: http://unitedpatriotsworldwide.com/vinienco/2013/08/07/catholic-radio-station-invites-robert-spencer-speak-eastern-michigan-university

Robert Spencer on Franciscan University Presents

Original air date: May 2012.
 
 

Robert Spencer: “Evangelization and Islam: The Dangers, Difficulties, and Rewards of Sharing the Faith with Muslims”

Robert Spencer at the Defending the Faith Conference at Franciscan University of Steubenville in Ohio, July 27, 2012.

Today on "Kresta in the Afternoon" – August 8, 2013

Talking about the “things that matter most” on August 8

Live From the Catholic Marketing Network Expo

4:00 –  Under the Mantle: Marian Thoughts from a 21st Century Priest
Fr. Donald Calloway, MIC is here to share his personal insights on topics including Divine Mercy, the Eucharist, the papacy, the Church, confession, prayer, the cross, masculinity, and femininity. The Blessed Virgin Mary is the central thread weaving a tapestry throughout with quotes about Our Lady from saints, blessed, and popes. Certain to become a “tour de force” Marian book for the Year of Faith! He joins us.

4:20 – Battle Saint
The BattleSaint™ project was hatched by a military Mom at a recent family reunion.  She hosted 7 of her immediate relatives who were enlisted in the military. Many of them had been deployed multiple times. The night was full of stories of war and close calls. She realized how great it would be to create a unique bracelet to honor their service and provide a sense of protection from the dangers of the battlefield.  With this inspiration, she designed handmade, wooden bracelets with pictures of Saints relevant to the military. There is more to this story and Jim LeMay is here to discuss it.

4:40 – Blessed, Beautiful and Bodacious: Celebrating the Gift of Catholic Womanhood
In her memoir, Pat Gohn draws on decades of women’s ministry experience, her popular Catholic women’s podcast Among Women, and her own story as a wife and mother, proclaiming the Church’s compelling vision of every woman: you have dignity, you are gifted, and you have a mission. She guides us through moments of her life that have shaped her identity and understanding of womanhood–abiding love and talent for music, breast cancer in her thirties, and coming to understand true feminism in light of Church teaching and Mary’s example. Gohn is here to share how she became empowered to embrace her blessings, beauty, and bodaciousness, and how we can do the same.

5:00 – The Ear of the Heart: An Actress’ Journey from Hollywood to Holy Vows

Dolores Hart stunned Hollywood in 1963, when after ten highly successful feature films, she chose to enter a contemplative monastery. Now, fifty years later, Mother Dolores gives this fascinating account of her life. Dolores was a bright and beautiful college student when she made her film debut with Elvis Presley in Paramount’s 1957 Loving You. She also gave a Tony-nominated performance on Broadway. Born Dolores Hicks to a complicated and colorful Chicago family, Mother Hart has traveled a charmed yet challenging road in her journey toward God, serenity and, yes, love. She entered the Abbey of Regina Laudis in Bethlehem, Conn., at the peak of her career, not in order to leave the glamorous world of acting she had dreamed of since childhood, but in order to answer a mysterious summons she heard with the “ear of the heart”. While contracted for another film and engaged to be married, she gave up everything to become a bride of Christ. Mother Dolores Hart joins us.
 
5:20 – The Miraculous Medal: Stories, Prayers, and Devotions
Over twenty years ago, Mother Teresa gave Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle a blessed Miraculous Medal, and she has never taken it off. To date, Donna-Marie has given away thousands of Miraculous Medals. But what is the Miraculous Medal–and why is it considered miraculous? Why is it important for us today? Donna-Marie is here to answer these questions and tells us about the origin and history of the Miraculous Medal, how the medal got its name and more.
 
5:40 – Rapunzel Let Down: A Fairy Tale Retold
A teen summer romance in New England has disastrous consequences when the daring son of a conservative senator forms a secret relationship with the isolated daughter of a reclusive scientist. It’s a modern retelling of the classic tale “Rapunzel” by Regina Doman. She joins us.

 

How a critic of Islam ended up in the check-out aisle

Posted on: August 7th, 2013 by kresta in the afternoon
PrintNational Post
August 7, 2013

By Barbara Kay

As the topic for its popular annual debate last May, the Oxford University Union proposed that “This House believes Islam is a religion of peace.”
Considering the venue — Oxford is, like many Western universities, marinated in political correctness — it’s hardly surprising that the motion passed 286-186 (as described in Robert Fulford’s July 27 column).

Indeed, in the culturally self-flagellating world of academia, where offending Muslim sensibilities is anathema, but offending Christian sensibilities is virtually a moral obligation, a motion such as “This House believes that Christianity promotes war and racism” would likely pass quite handily as well.

“Is Islam a religion of peace?” will also be up for public discussion Aug. 10 in Ypsilanti, Michigan. Subtitled “Catholic Witness in a Nation Divided,” this conference is organized by Ave Maria Communications, a Catholic marketing network. It’s reasonable to assume that this less politically correct venue will provide a sharp contrast with the Oxford experience.

The speakers list includes: Robert Spencer, director of the controversial web site Jihad Watch; Mustafa Akyol, Turkish journalist and author of Islam without extremes: a Muslim case for liberty; Richard Thompson, president of the Thomas More Law Center; Shadid Lewis, Regional Director of the Muslim Debate Initiative USA; and Al Kresta, writer, missionary, CEO of Ave Maria Radio and host of the radio talk show “Kresta in the Afternoon.”

The conference speaker that particularly interests me, though, is a young man by the name of Andrew Bieszad, an Islamic Studies scholar with a specialty in Christian-Muslim relations. In fact I learned of the conference during a telephone interview with Bieszad after reading his book Lions of the Faith (which I am reviewing for a Catholic magazine).

Bieszad’s book is a compendium of brief narratives, chronicling the lives of Catholics martyred for their faith by Muslims. His interspersed prefaces to the litany of martyrdoms, organized into four eras from Islam’s birth to modern times, provide tutorials in such topics as the Crusades, the Christian reconquest of the Iberian peninsula, the Ottoman Empire, the knightly chivalric orders, the Islamic invasion of Europe and the Inquisition.

The Hartford Seminary in Connecticut.
The Hartford Seminary in Connecticut.

Bieszad came to my attention in 2011 when, in an open letter, he detailed his experiences as a student of Islamic Studies at Hartford Seminary in Connecticut, once a Protestant seminary for missionaries bound for Muslim regions, but today, according to Bieszad, despite many “brilliant, highly-educated Muslim and non-Muslim professors who value scholarship,” an institution that promotes “Islamo-correctness.”

Fluent in Arabic and many other languages, Bieszad was considered a “unique addition” to the Masters program at Hartford Seminary because of what he describes as “my strong interest in and strong disagreement with Islamic teachings.”

And so he proved to be. Although there were other Christians in the program, notably in the class on “interfaith dialogue,” he claims to have been the only non-Muslim to say aloud, “I am Catholic and I do not believe in Islam.”

Bieszad reports that he paid a heavy price for his forthrightness, being, by his account, routinely subjected to insults and threats by Muslim students. He writes that one student told him, “according to Islam you do not deserve to live.” Bieszad claims that his detractors were not censured, either by professors or by other Christian students.

Conversion to Islam was encouraged, Bieszad writes; but Christian proselytism was forbidden. Christianity, Bieszad alleges, was taught in the context of homosexuality, class discrimination and women’s liberation from patriarchal oppression. But in classes on Islam, he says, the professor never spoke of any “contextual” Koranic interpretation, let alone from a feminist, socialist or gay perspective.

When Bieszad brought his concerns to the administration, he says, he was accused of being “intolerant” of Islam, and ordered to show a “better understanding of Islam” as a solution.
Bieszad will likely incorporate these personal experiences into his conference presentation. He may include, as well, provocative statements from his book, such as: “Islam is … the only [world] religion whose theology specifically denounces and calls for the destruction of Christianity as a whole and regardless of form.”

Bieszad wants to do a PhD, but Islamic Studies is a small world. So far, he says, no U.S. Islamic Studies program he’s applied to will have him. While seeking an academic berth, this courageous scholar, married and the father of two young children, is employed in a Connecticut grocery store.

Source: http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2013/08/07/barbara-kay-how-a-critic-of-islam-ended-up-in-the-check-out-aisle/

Patricia Montemurri of Detroit Free Press repeats Leftist/Islamic supremacist smears of Robert Spencer as “news”

Posted on: August 7th, 2013 by kresta in the afternoon
 
Jihad Watch
August 7, 2013
By Robert Spencer

robert_spencerHere is a particularly egregious manifestation of how “journalists” attempt to manipulate events and frame the general public’s understanding of the news. In a certain sense it is a shame that this article is about me, and I am the one responding to it, since that only obscures the core issues of media bias here: please try to keep in mind that this is not something that happens to me only, but to anyone and everyone who dares to challenge the politically correct establishment, the Leftist ideology that we all must accept on pain of charges of “bigotry,” “racism,” and “hate.” Leftist “journalists” such as Patricia Montemurri have just about succeeded in fooling Americans into thinking that there is something wrong with defending their home and country against a radically intolerant and repressive ideology — this article is just one small example of how it has been done.

It starts with the headline: “anti-Islam.” Not “pro-freedom.” Not even “anti-Sharia.” The implication is that my work is about “hate,” as Patricia Montemurri’s talking points from the editor-in-chief of Reza Aslan’s Aslan Media told her — not about defending the freedom of speech, the freedom of conscience, and the equality of rights of all people before the law. Not about defending women and non-Muslims and gays from Sharia-inspired oppression and intimidation. Not about championing Constitutional freedoms. Just about irrationally hating an entire Great World Religion, for some unaccountable reason.

“Catholic radio station invites anti-Islam blogger to speak at EMU,” by Patricia Montemurri for the Detroit Free Press, August 7:

An Ann Arbor-based Catholic radio station has invited anti-Islam blogger and author Robert Spencer to speak at a symposium at Eastern Michigan University on Saturday.
 

Note again the subtle manipulation of the reader. Patricia Montemurri had 1,000 things she could have called me; she chose “anti-Islam blogger and author.” Not, say, “former FBI and JTTF trainer.”

Not “human rights activist.” Not “pro-freedom activist.” You get the idea.

Spencer, who blogs at www.jihadwatch.org, is scheduled to speak at “Is Islam a Religion of Peace?” sponsored by Ave Maria Radio.
 
The symposium, which will be held in the student union, will feature pro-Muslim speakers, too. But Spencer’s appearance is controversial. The New York Times reported that Spencer’s comments were cited 64 times by the Norwegian white supremacist who killed 76 people in Norway in 2011. Spencer was banned from the United Kingdom in June for what the British government said was his association with hate groups.
 

In writing this, Montemurri implies that “the Norwegian white supremacist” was inspired to white supremacism and murder by me. In reality, Anders Behring Breivik’s “manifesto” cites not just me, but many, many people, including Barack Obama, John F. Kennedy, and Thomas Jefferson — who are just three of the many who are never blamed for his murders. Montemurri also doesn’t mention, and probably doesn’t know, since the editor-in-chief of Reza Aslan’s Aslan Media didn’t tell her, that Breivik’s manifesto actually reflects an ideology quite different from mine: so far was he from being a doctrinaire counter-jihadist that he wanted to aid Hamas and ally with jihad groups. Nor does she mention (or know, probably) that Breivik criticized me in his insane “manifesto” for not advocating violence. I am no more responsible for Breivik than the Beatles are for Charles Manson.

And as for the British ban, the fact that Montemurri even mentions it shows how these smears retailed by the editor-in-chief of Reza Aslan’s Aslan Media are self-reinforcing. As a result of smears and defamation from Aslan’s counterparts in Britain, my colleague Pamela Geller and I were banned from entering that country. The Home Office’s letter banning me from entering the country said I was being banned for saying that Islam has a doctrine mandating warfare against unbelievers, which it manifestly and demonstrably does indeed have. A preacher of that doctrine, the Saudi Sheikh Mohammed al-Arifi, was recently admitted into the UK. He has said: “Devotion to Jihad for the sake of Allah, and the desire to shed blood, to smash skulls and to sever limbs for the sake of Allah and in defense of His religion, is, undoubtedly, an honor for the believer.” Yet I who advocate no violence or hatred of any kind am not allowed in. This is hardly a blot on my record; it is a blot on Britain’s.

“He represents true bigotry,” said Shadid Lewis, former president of a Hampton, Va., mosque and a Muslim Debate Initiative member who is scheduled to debate Spencer at the Saturday symposium. “It’s a pretty big thing to be banned from a country.”
 

Shadid Lewis is set to debate me Saturday. It should be interesting. He will find that however much it may impress Patricia Montemurri, name-calling and ad hominem attacks won’t go as far in debate against actual facts.

Ave Maria radio station host Al Kresta, who will moderate the debate, isn’t shying away from controversy.
 
“If having a debate like this is considered incendiary, than that’s evidence that we need debates like this,” Kresta said Tuesday. “People think you can only live together peacefully if you agree on everything, and that’s not true.”
 
“When this conference is over, Christians and Muslims won’t be holding hands and singing Kumbayah,” Kresta said earlier in a news release. “Everyone who participates in this frank, no-holds-barred discussion, however, will be thankful for free speech and a civil society which permits people with irreconcilable differences to understand if not agree with one another.”
Spencer, who identifies himself as a Catholic on his blog, could not be reached for comment.
 

Actually Montemurri was given a phone number that is no longer in use, and — as is typical of today’s lazy and ideologically blinkered Leftist “journalists,” made no further attempt. My email address is publicly available on this site, but she didn’t email me until I emailed her this morning to take issue with her saying I couldn’t be reached for comment when she hardly tried. I offered to answer her questions via email at that point. She did not deign to respond. So much for “journalism” in America today. Note that she implies skepticism about my Catholicism, saying only that I identify myself as a Catholic but not going so far as to say that I actually am one, while manifesting no such skepticism toward the defamation that the others she quotes in the article direct toward me. Instead of only noting various bishops who have canceled me, she could have also noted that I was recently called “perhaps the foremost Catholic expert on Islam in our country” in the National Catholic Register. But that wouldn’t have accorded with her agenda.

Lansing Catholic bishop Earl Boyea is scheduled to lead a mass at the end of the symposium. Boyea’s scheduled appearance is raising concern among Muslim leaders, too.
Boyea “neither endorses nor condemns any of the featured presenters,” the bishop’s office said Tuesday in a statement. “Bishop Boyea hopes that the symposium, and dialog like it, can spur what Pope Francis last week called “mutual respect through education” between Christianity and Islam.”
 

There is nothing “disrespectful” about telling the truth.

In January, a Catholic diocese in Massachusetts withdrew an invitation to Spencer to speak at a Catholic men’s conference in Worcester, responding to concerns voiced by Muslims in the area. Last month the Diocese of Sacramento canceled an appearance by Spencer in a Catholic church.
 

Montemurri doesn’t mention, because the editor-in-chief of Reza Aslan’s Aslan Media didn’t tell her, that the Worcester bishop canceled me at the behest of Abdul Cader Asmal, an open supporter of convicted al-Qaeda jihad terrorist Tarek Mehanna. She doesn’t mention, yet again because she almost certainly wasn’t told, that while the Sacramento bishop caved to smears from (yes) the editor-in-chief of Reza Aslan’s Aslan Media, the diocese of Sacramento had a booth at the conference, which went on as planned with me speaking: obviously they didn’t think it was so terrible that I was there that they couldn’t have a presence at all. Montemurri displays no curiosity whatsoever as to how and why these cancellations happened.

Victor Begg, senior adviser to the Michigan Muslim Community Council, questioned Tuesday why Catholic Bishop Boyea would appear at such an event, “knowing these people have an Islamophobia, bigoted agenda.”
 
“I think it’s sad to see that this group would try to stage this kind of confrontational encounter, when Catholic and Muslim leaders are engaged in an ongoing, cordial dialogue,” said Dawood Zwink, executive director of the Michigan Muslim Community Council. “I don’t know why these organizers would choose as a headliner someone who just this summer was barred (from the United Kingdom) because his presentations are so incendiary. It’s not in keeping with American values of civil dialogue.”
 

I was not banned from Britain because my “presentations” were “incendiary.” I was banned from Britain for saying that Islam had a doctrine of violence against unbelievers. Muslims who believe in that doctrine are persecuting Christians with increasing ferocity in Nigeria, Egypt, Syria, Pakistan, Indonesia, and elsewhere today. If “ongoing, cordial dialogue” can’t acknowledge and discuss that and work toward ways to stop it, it is worthless.

Richard Thompson, the former Oakland County prosecutor who founded the Thomas More Law Center, also will speak at the Ave Maria symposium and defended Spencer.
 
“He’s a well-known author and spokesperson regarding Islam,” Thompson said. “We still live in a society that enshrines the constitutional right to free speech and we should exercise that right regardless of whether some people may be upset or offended.
 
Eastern Michigan University released a statement saying “the event is not sponsored, financially supported, or being promoted by” the university.
 
“Our facility is being rented as it is throughout the year by many organizations with no affiliation to the university,” the statement read. “As a public institution, and under the freedom of speech protections provided by the First Amendment, we do not and can not make determinations about access to our facilities based on the viewpoints being presented.”
 

Fair enough. It would be nice for someone to have the courage to say that there is nothing wrong with resisting jihad violence and Islamic supremacism, but that may be too much to hope for in today’s politically correct age.

Final observation: why didn’t the Detroit Free Press’s in-house pro-jihad terror stooge, Niraj Warikoo, write this hit piece? Was he tired of my calling him out on his endless cheerleading for jihad terror and Islamic supremacism?

Al Kresta Responds to Detroit Free Press Article: “Catholic radio station invites anti-Islam blogger to speak at EMU”

Posted on: August 7th, 2013 by kresta in the afternoon

August 7, 2013
By Al Kresta

The Detroit Free Press, Ann Arbor.com and Deadline Detroit have suggested that Ave Maria Radio is sponsoring a hate-fest. It is because of such ignorant opinions that Ave Maria is holding these debates.

al_kresta-125x130Here is Al Kresta’s response:

“While I am grateful to the Free Press for covering the conference, I was disappointed that Robert Spencer’s participation was treated as a sign of ill will. Have we lost our confidence in honest confrontation? It was Shadid Lewis of the Muslim Debate Initiative who called for a public debate with Spencer during a podcast in which he reviewed Spencer’s book, Religion of Peace. I take Lewis at his word. Spencer’s positions are held by millions of Americans and if they are baseless, the competent Muslim apologists will demonstrate it. Apparently some of the Muslim groups quoted do not believe Mr. Lewis is up for the task. Otherwise wouldn’t they want the opportunity to publicly expose his ‘hate-mongering’ and’ Islamophobia’? It won’t do in a principled pluralistic society to hive off into our ethnic or religious ghettos and accuse outsiders of hatred and bigotry when we haven’t even confronted them publicly.

“A mark of intellectual maturity is to be able to re-present our opponent’s position in a way that our opponent recognizes as fair and accurate. Those attending will better understand each side and will be less willing to hastily prejudge one side or the other. For heaven’s sake, this is a public debate not a one-sided propaganda fest. We must get beyond cliches if we are to live together with irreconcilable differences. To those who sit on the sidelines and criticize, I prefer my way of bringing people together to their way of not doing it.”

Al Kresta
President and C.E.O. Ave Maria Communications

Free Press Coverage: Catholic radio station invites anti-Islam blogger to speak at EMU

11:54 AM, August 7, 2013

An Ann Arbor-based Catholic radio station has invited anti-Islam blogger and author Robert Spencer to speak at a symposium at Eastern Michigan University on Saturday.

Spencer, who blogs at www.jihadwatch.org, is scheduled to speak at “Is Islam a Religion of Peace?” sponsored by Ave Maria Radio.

The symposium, which will be held in the student union, will feature pro-Muslim speakers, too. But Spencer’s appearance is controversial. The New York Times reported that Spencer’s comments were cited 64 times by the Norwegian white supremacist who killed 76 people in Norway in 2011. Spencer was banned from the United Kingdom in June for what the British government said was his association with hate groups.

“He represents true bigotry,” said Shadid Lewis, former president of a Hampton, Va., mosque and a Muslim Debate Initiative member who is scheduled to debate Spencer at the Saturday symposium. “It’s a pretty big thing to be banned from a country.”

Ave Maria radio station host Al Kresta, who will moderate the debate, isn’t shying away from controversy.

“If having a debate like this is considered incendiary, than that’s evidence that we need debates like this,” Kresta said Tuesday. “People think you can only live together peacefully if you agree on everything, and that’s not true.”

“When this conference is over, Christians and Muslims won’t be holding hands and singing Kumbayah,” Kresta said earlier in a news release. “Everyone who participates in this frank, no-holds-barred discussion, however, will be thankful for free speech and a civil society which permits people with irreconcilable differences to understand if not agree with one another.”

Spencer, who identifies himself as a Catholic on his blog, could not be reached for comment.
Lansing Catholic bishop Earl Boyea is scheduled to lead a mass at the end of the symposium. Boyea’s scheduled appearance is raising concern among Muslim leaders, too.

Boyea “neither endorses nor condemns any of the featured presenters,” the bishop’s office said Tuesday in a statement. “Bishop Boyea hopes that the symposium, and dialog like it, can spur what Pope Francis last week called “mutual respect through education” between Christianity and Islam.”
In January, a Catholic diocese in Massachusetts withdrew an invitation to Spencer to speak at a Catholic men’s conference in Worcester, responding to concerns voiced by Muslims in the area. Last month the Diocese of Sacramento canceled an appearance by Spencer in a Catholic church.
Victor Begg, senior adviser to the Michigan Muslim Community Council, questioned Tuesday why Catholic Bishop Boyea would appear at such an event, “knowing these people have an Islamophobia, bigoted agenda.”

“I think it’s sad to see that this group would try to stage this kind of confrontational encounter, when Catholic and Muslim leaders are engaged in an ongoing, cordial dialogue,” said Dawood Zwink, executive director of the Michigan Muslim Community Council. “I don’t know why these organizers would choose as a headliner someone who just this summer was barred (from the United Kingdom) because his presentations are so incendiary. It’s not in keeping with American values of civil dialogue.”

Richard Thompson, the former Oakland County prosecutor who founded the Thomas More Law Center, also will speak at the Ave Maria symposium and defended Spencer.

“He’s a well-known author and spokesperson regarding Islam,” Thompson said. “We still live in a society that enshrines the constitutional right to free speech and we should exercise that right regardless of whether some people may be upset or offended.

Eastern Michigan University released a statement saying “the event is not sponsored, financially supported, or being promoted by” the university.

“Our facility is being rented as it is throughout the year by many organizations with no affiliation to the university,” the statement read. “As a public institution, and under the freedom of speech protections provided by the First Amendment, we do not and can not make determinations about access to our facilities based on the viewpoints being presented.”
 

Contact Patricia Montemurri: 313-223-4538 or pmontemurri@freepress.com

Who Should Be Barred From Catholic Forums?

Posted on: August 8th, 2013 by kresta in the afternoon
National Catholic Reporter
August 8, 2013
robert_spencer

by Michael Sean Winters

Controversial anti-Muslim speaker and blogger Robert Spencer is slated to participate in a debate at Eastern Michigan University. The debate is being conducted by Al Kresta, the Catholic radio host of “Kresta in the Afternoon” which is distributed on Ave Maria Radio and EWTN. Earlier this year, two bishops, Robert McManus of Worcester and Jaime Soto of Sacramento, canceled appearances by Spencer on Catholic premises because of his anti-Muslim bigotry.

These episodes raise the question, and it is not an easy question, as to who should be barred from being given a platform at a Catholic institution. In defending his decision to host the debate, Mr. Kresta said, “If having a debate like this is considered incendiary, than that’s evidence that we need debates like this. People think you can only live together peacefully if you agree on everything, and that’s not true.” There is something to that sentiment to be sure, especially at a university setting where, presumably, encouraging debate is one of the institution’s primary goals.

There are limits. Holocaust deniers come to mind, and not only in the abstract. You may recall the controversy surrounding Columbia University’s invitation to now-former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to speak on campus. In what meaningful sense can a debate be considered an intellectual endeavor when it includes a madman?

Mr. Spencer’s vile anti-Muslim pronouncements certainly approach the level of bigotry we associate with Holocaust denial. He has made a career of cherry picking especially violent passages out of the Koran and tarring the rest of Islam as violent on account of those passages. Of course, the same methodology could be used to indict Christians and Jews for whom Psalm 137 is considered the very Word of God: After its poignant opening line – “By the waters of Babylon, there we sat down and wept, when we remembered Zion,” the psalm concludes, “Happy shall he be who takes your little ones and dashes them against the rock!” Slaughtering children by dashing them against rocks does not, in fact, make me happy. This passage – and there are others – brings to mind the sage observation of Origen, the early third century Christian exegete, regarding Biblical literalism.

Looking at Genesis and the account(s) of Creation therein, he asked, “who is so silly as to believe that God, after the manner of a farmer, planted a paradise eastward in Eden, and set in it a visible and palpable tree of life, of such a sort that anyone who tasted its fruit with his bodily teeth would gain life?” Well, it turns out, many fundamentalists believe precisely that all these centuries later. The point is that texts drawn from earlier centuries can almost always be cited to indict a given tradition.
In America today, there are only too many people who are willing to believe the worst about Muslims, which is why Spencer’s writings and speeches are not merely mad, they are, as Kresta admitted, “incendiary.” A madman can be written off, but a madman with consequence must be rebutted, and I am not sure that a debate forum is the proper method of rebuttal. There are people, and I would put Spencer in that group, whose views are so hateful and so tendentious that they should not, in fact, be given a forum at either a Catholic institution on moral grounds or an academic institution on intellectual grounds. Bishop Boyea of Lansing would be well advised to follow the example of his brother bishops and say that the Catholic Church simply cannot be associated with this vile anti-Muslim bigotry.

And, while he is at it, Bishop Boyea might take a hard look at another group supporting Spencer’s talk, the Thomas More Law Center, which has its own history of anti-Muslim bigotry. Last year, Tom Lynch, the Director of Mission Advancement at Thomas More Law Center, tweeted this nasty swipe at both Muslims and the Becket Fund, “Believe Islam a religion, then support the Becket Fund. Believe it will destroy US, then supt thomasmore.org.” Nice. To their great credit, the Becket Fund issued a public rebuke of the Thomas More Law Center.

While looking into the matter, the Catholic bishops as a whole might want to speak out against these anti-sharia laws that have been proposed, and in some instances passed, in several conservative states. Of course, no law could be upheld as constitutional that singled out a particular religion, so the laws the invocation of any law in state courts if that law is established by a foreign power. Funny, this past week a judge in Wisconsin ruled in favor of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee’s decision to transfer money to a cemetery fund, citing the fact that the canon law of the Church required such funds for the maintenance of cemeteries. The Church’s canon law was most definitely established by Bl. Pope John Paul II, and would meet the criterion set forth in these laws. Yet, when the law was being debated and passed in Kansas, not a word from the bishops of that state. They had rather a lot to say about the threat the HHS contraception mandate posed to religious liberty, but nary a word for the anti-sharia, and anti-canon law, proposal. Nor did the USCCB issue any statement against these laws.

Read the rest here: http://ncronline.org/blogs/distinctly-catholic/who-should-be-barred-catholic-forums

Reza Aslan’s Publisher Tries to Prevent Debate on Islam

Nathan Lean from Aslan Media (Reza Aslan) follows Robert Spencer around the country trying to get him banned from speaking. Lean has succeeded on two occasions due to a failure of leadership, but his charges are bogus. He stirs up emotion and fear while painting Robert as a hate-monger. As Ave Maria Radio prepares for its Symposium Debate this weekend Nathan Lane is at it again. He attempted to intimidate Eastern Michigan University, the venue of the event, and us. He has failed. Apparently he believes the Muslims that are taking part in the debates are ill-equipped to defend their religious beliefs – and his. We do not.

Join us as we prove that difficult topics can be debated without resorting to name-calling and intimidation techniques.

Register now for the August 10 symposium. Ticket are going fast and registration WILL NOT BE AVAILABLE at the door
To register for the conference, click here or call 734.930.5201.
Conference Debates: “Is Islam a Religion of Peace?”

The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life recently showed that 19% of U.S. Muslims said that “suicide bombing or other forms of violence against civilians in the name of Islam” could be justified. That number in Egypt is 29% and 40% in the Palestinian territories. Do these findings mock the claim that Islam is a religion of peace?

On Saturday, August 10, renowned experts on Islam from around the world come to MI discuss and debate the question, “Is Islam a Religion of Peace?” The one-day symposium will be held in the Student Center at Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti, MI

Featured debaters will be Robert Spencer, director of JihadWatch.org facing off against Shadid Lewis, regional director of the Muslim Debate Initiative in the US, on the question “Is Islam a Religion of Peace?”

Muslim columnist for the Turkish News Mustafa Akyol will debate Richard Thompson of the Thomas More Law Center on “Can Islam Support Religious Liberty?”

The Eastern Michigan University Student Center is located at 900 Oakwood Street, Ypsilanti, Michigan 48197. Registration for the symposium is $40, and includes a box lunch and free parking. Clergy and student rates are available.

Registration will begin at 8:00 a.m., and the conference will run from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. with Mass following.

To register for the conference, click here or call 734.930.5201.

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