Battle lines have been drawn within America's Christian community over groups tied to the Muslim Brotherhood. On the one side are groups like the Presbyterian Church USA and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops who are allied with Islamists and even atheists in denouncing those of us raising concern about the influence of Brotherhood-tied groups. On the other are conservative Christian activists like American Family Association and American Values.
There's been a quiet battle brewing within the Christian community over its stance on Israel and working with groups affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, structurally and ideologically. This split has now burst into the open. A formidable alliance of 43 groups published a joint letter to the five members of Congress who want to investigate the influence of Brotherhood-tied groups in the U.S. government.
The coalition includes Christian groups like the Presbyterian Church USA Office of Public Witness, American Baptist Churches USA, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the United Church of Christ and the United Methodist Church General Board of Church and Society. It includes Jewish groups like Rabbis for Human Rights and atheist ones like American Atheists, as well as non-religious civil rights groups like the ACLU and NAACP.
These groups are not just commenting on the case of Huma Abedin, the deputy chief of staff to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. They are dismissing the entirety of the letters written by the five members of Congress and they are an endorsement of the Brotherhood legacy groups.
"Those you accuse-including Ms. Huma Abedin and leaders of the Islamic Society of North America, the Muslim Public Affairs Council, and Muslim Advocates-have long-standing histories of positive and committed work to strengthen the United States of America," the letter states. The authors accuse Reps. Bachmann, Gohmert, Franks, Rooney and Westmoreland of fomenting anti-Muslim sentiment and "betray[ing] our foundational religious freedoms."
The coalition accuses the congressmen of making accusations "based on nothing more than their religious affiliations." It takes aim at Frank Gaffney's Center for Security Policy, holding the think-tank responsible for influencing the congressmen with its "consistently anti-Muslim agenda."
The coalition would have you believe that the cases against these Muslim groups are laughably weak. Actually, the cases are largely based on evidence submitted by the federal government and the Brotherhood's own documents.
The Islamic Society of North America is the first organization listed in a Muslim Brotherhood document naming its fronts in the U.S. The federal government designated ISNA as an "unindicted co-conspirator" in the trial of the Holy Land Foundation, a charity set up by the Brotherhood to finance Hamas. ISNA tried to get the designation lifted in court and failed. In 2009, Judge Solis ruled that the government provided "ample evidence" connecting ISNA to Hamas.
The Muslim Public Affairs Council works in tandem with the other Brotherhood-tied groups. One of its original founders and current Senior Adviser, Maher Hathout, is a long-time Brotherhood ideologue. He was imprisoned in Egypt for his involvement with the group and came to the U.S. in 1971. In 1998, he stated that he disagrees with the terrorist group Hezbollah on some matters but "on the issue of fighting to liberate their land and attacking only armed forces, this is legitimate, this is an American value-freedom and liberty." MPAC continues to host international Islamists as its top speakers.
Muslim Advocates consistently demonizes agencies involved in counter-terrorism and works very closely with the other Brotherhood fronts.
Some Christian leaders have jumped to the defense of the congressmen like David Barton of Wallbuilders, Gary Bauer of American Values, James Dobson of FamilyTalkRadio, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council and Tim Wildmon of the American Family Association. Click here to read the letter they signed.
One of the 17 signatories to this letter is Edwin Meese III who served as Attorney General under President Reagan. Andrew McCarthy, the prosecutor who jailed the "Blind Sheikh" for his involvement in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, is not a signatory but is strongly speaking out against the Brotherhood network. Meese and McCarthy know a thing or two about what qualifies as solid evidence and certainly more than the church leaders who so emphatically state that none exists.
The Islamist groups in the U.S. began aggressively rallying their church allies after the controversy over the NYPD's counter-terrorism training and surveillance operations began. On March 13, an interfaith group named Shoulder-to-Shoulder, which includes many of the names already mentioned, wrote a letter to Mayor Bloomberg lambasting the NYPD for showing our film, The Third Jihad, to police officers. They called the film "bigoted" and "patently false." The President of ISNA, a group exposed in the film, sits on Shoulder-to-Shoulder's executive committee.
The influence of these groups is even undermining Christian support for Israel. Mark Tooley, President of the Institute on Religion and Democracy, wrote about how the Presbyterian Church USA nearly approved divestment from Israel at its governing general assembly on July 5. Divestment was defeated by only two votes: 333 to 331.
The Presbyterian supporters of divestment were applauded by ISNA official Sayyid M. Syeed who praised "Your advocacy and your unflinching support for an equitable and dignified solution to the Israeli-Palestinian problems…" Syeed is the National Director of ISNA's Office of Interfaith Relations. Before that, he was ISNA's Secretary-General and a founding board member. He was there when ISNA was created by the Muslim Brotherhood. And he's there now, leading the group's efforts to turn the churches away from Israel and into their political allies.
This battle isn't between Christians and Muslims. It's between Islamists and anti-Islamists. And far too many Christians have picked the side of the Islamists.
Ryan Mauro is ClarionProject.org's National Security Analyst and a fellow with the Clarion Fund. He is the founder of WorldThreats.com and is frequently interviewed on Fox News.
This article was sponsored by the Institute on Religion and Democracy.