The Alliance for Marriage, which is
spearheading the push for a constitutional amendment to limit matrimony to
heterosexuals, is coming under fierce attack from its conservative religious base for
its collusion with a controversial Muslim group.
AFM's embrace of Islamic Society of Northern America (ISNA), first reported
in JewishWorldReview.com, has already mired the group in considerable
controversy. Now, four nationally known religious conservatives, including a former
presidential candidate and a renowned conservative strategist who helped launch
the Religious Right, have decried the connection.
The criticism is likely to sting. Given its source, it can't be dismissed
as leftist clap trap or journalistic carping. Already, prominent religious
conservatives, including Father Richard John Neuhaus and Barry Freundel, known
as "Lieberman's rabbi" because the Connecticut senator worships at his shul,
have come under close scrutiny because they serve on the AFM advisory board
alongside ISNA. But most of the examination was in Jewish, mainstream and gay
publications. Even then, the press coverage took a toll on the AFM.
After JewishWorldReview.com reported the ISNA connection last month, Rabbi
Marc Gellman, of "God Squad" fame and perhaps the best known rabbi in America,
resigned from the AFM advisory board rather than serve alongside ISNA.
Gellman's resignation was the second time the AFM has lost key Jewish representation
because of investigative reporting by JewishWorldReview.com In 2001, just
hours after the JWR reported that a group similar to ISNA served on the AFM
advisory board, the Orthodox Union withdrew its representative.
The AFM, for its part, cites scholars who deem ISNA a mainstream
organization that represents many Muslims. The AFM also boasts that the State
Department does not list ISNA as a terrorist organization or terrorist front-group.
Religious conservatives answer to the Almighty, not the State Department.
The AFM's rationales are distinctions without moral differences from the
perspective of Gary Bauer, who gained national recognition when he made a feisty
bid for the GOP Presidential nomination in 2000, and Free Congress Foundation
head Paul Weyrich, who coined the term "Moral Majority" for Jerry Falwell. They
contend that AFM's association with ISNA is a morally problematic fools' errand
that, if not corrected, could seriously damage the anti-gay marriage movement.
Indeed, the plain fact is that ISNA, regardless of how its labeled, has
indulged the kind of anti-Semitic, anti-Israel and anti-American sentiments that
long ago got Louis Farrakhan banished from polite society and when closely
examined is likely to repulse many Americans.
In Congressional testimony, terrorism expert Steve Emerson said that Hamza Yousef, who
serves on CAIR's board of advisors, told a 1995 meeting of the Islamic
Society of North America that "the Jews would have us believe that G-d has this bias
to this small tribe in the middle of the Sinai dessert and all the rest of
humanity is just rubbish. I mean that this is the basic doctrine of the Jewish
religion and that's why it is a most racist religion."
Along the same lines, Muzammil Siddiqi of Islamic Society of America, has
personally voiced similar noxious statements. According to author Steven
Schwartz he told an anti-Israel "Jerusalem Day" rally on October 28, 2000 that
"America has to learn . . . if you remain on the side of injustice, the wrath of
G-d will come. Please, all Americans. Do you remember that? If you continue
doing injustice, and tolerate injustice, the wrath of G-d will come."
This kind of stuff makes Gary Bauer cringe. After 9/11 Americans have no
tolerance for anyone soft on terrorism, he explains. AFM's association with
ISNA, an "apologist for radical Islam" and guilty of "crass anti-Semitism,"
sends the "wrong signal" to the American people and "doesn't help our cause."
Weyrich has previously told JewishWorldReview.com that collaboration with groups like ISNA
is too high a price to pay to fight gay marriage. Now, he's voiced even fiercer criticism of the AFM's recent conduct. Informed that AFM vice-president Paul Rondeau had provided unsolicited derogatory "information" about this writer to a journalist who followed up on his story, Weyrich likened the AFM to
Leninist disciples. "He exhorted the faithful to always change the subject when you can't win an argument."
Can the AFM really change the subject? Bill Donahue, the outspoken head of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, which fights anti-Catholic bias in the media and popular culture, worries that liberal media outlets at some point is likely to seize upon the ISNA connection to discredit the anti-gay marriage movement. "I don't need those kind of headaches."
Donahue has a very simple solution. Dump ISNA.
Although Donahue, Weyrich and Bauer all voiced strong moral objections to the ISNA connection, another nationally known religious figure cites Christian Scripture to make the point even more stark. The Rev. Bailey Smith, former president of the Southern Baptist Convention, was mortified to learn about the ISNA
connection and feverishly pro-Israel Baptists will likely have a similar reaction.
Smith says that to adamantly pro-Israel Southern Baptists the alliance with ISNA is unfathomable. "Is there any group that is hurting the world more than radical Islam?" The AFM alliance with ISNA, he adds, contravenes Christian Scriptures. "You can't mix darkness with light."
Will sunlight already focused on the AFM, but now intensified by criticism from the Christian Right, make the best disinfectant?
Or shall the forces of darkness prevail?