Right livid over ‘Islam on Capitol Hill’ event

RIGHT LIVID OVER ‘ISLAM ON CAPITOL HILL’ EVENT…. It’s gone largely under the media radar, but in Washington today, tens of thousands of Muslim Americans are expected to gather to pray as part of the “Islam on Capitol Hill” event. To say that the religious right is concerned about this would be something of an understatement.

Staffers might hear something more than the usual buzzing and ringing as Members are called to votes Friday; they’ll also hear the call to midday prayer as a large group of Muslims gathers to pray on the West Front of the Capitol.

Hassen Abdellah, a criminal lawyer who has served as president of the Dar-ul-Islam mosque in Elizabeth, N.J., since 1997, organized Muslims from around the country to pray peacefully outside the Capitol.

Organizers are planning for as many as 50,000 Muslims to gather on the West Front.

The event has no stated political agenda, and no elected officials are expected to attend. Abdellah has simply called on people to come to the Capitol to “pray for peace and understanding between America and its Muslim community.”

So, what’s the problem? In reality, there isn’t one. But in the active imaginations of religious right leaders, the “Islam on Capitol Hill” gathering is grounds for quite a tantrum.

Right Wing Watch has been chronicling the reactions from Christian right leaders all week, and the panic has become more palpable as the week has progressed. The Family Research Council believes today’s participants may “pray for shari’ah law to come to America,” so Christians’ efforts to convert Muslims should “accelerate.” Wallbuilders’ David Barton warned that today’s event undermines Christianity’s place at the top of the heap in America. The National Day of Prayer Task Force warned of “a dark spiritual intent and a coming day of great trouble to America.” A group called Operation Save America intends to send members to the Hill to wage some kind of spiritual battle. A variety of religious right leaders quickly created The Ad Hoc Committee of Americans for Transparency and Honesty in Religion to demand that organizers of today’s event denounce acts of terrorism.

“I don’t understand. This is a simple event. All we want to do is pray,” Abdellah said. “In America, name one event where Christians tried to pray and Muslims disrupted it.”

That kind of reasonable thinking doesn’t work when dealing with the religious right movement. It never has; it never will.