Leaders of the U.S. Episcopalian church aren’t asking anything in exchange for letting U.S.-based Islamist advocates of sharia law pray to Allah in the prestigious National Cathedral in Washington D.C., despite Christian persecution and murder surging across the Middle East.
“No, there is no quid pro quo here,” said Craig Stapert, the spokesman for the cathedral, where the Islamists will hold their prayers on Friday, Nov. 14.
Instead, “we’re looking for an opportunity to have prayer in our space, and to come together to see what it does for us as people of faith,” he told The Daily Caller.
The Islamists expected at the cathedral include representatives from the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) and the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). In 2009, both groups were confirmed as co-conspirators in a conspiracy to deliver funds to the Gaza-based Hamas jihad group, which regularly launches attacks to kill Jews in Israel.
This year, Hamas launched more than 4,000 rockets at Jews in Israel, often from within civilian areas.
Hamas is an affiliate of the Egypt-based Islamist group the Muslim Brotherhood, which was ousted from power in Egypt by huge public protest in 2012. Both CAIR and ISNA have close ties to the brotherhood movement.
“It is a shame that National Cathedral officials are apparently ignorant of or indifferent to the demonstrable ties of both CAIR and ISNA to Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood,’ said Robert Spencer, the author of several best-selling books on Islam.
The officials’ acceptance of the Islamist groups “tells Muslim audiences in the Middle East that U.S. mainline churches have no interest in encouraging genuine Muslim reform, but rather are aiding and enabling Brotherhood front groups in the U.S.,” he said.
“It also shows that those front groups have made enormous progress in winning mainstream, establishment support,” Spencer added.
The cathedral is often used for national events, such as the prayer service for the 3,000 Americans killed by Islamic jihadis in 2001. In 2011, evangelicals were excluded from the anniversary commemorations. However, a powerful wind hit the cathedral, forcing a relocation of the event. (RELATED: Weather Smites Cathedral After Controversial Invite)
The decision by cathedral officials to invite Muslim prayer inside the Christian church was favorably described in a Nov. 11 article in The Washington Post.
The head of liturgy at the cathedral, Gina Campbell, invited the Muslim groups to pray in the church, and described the planned worship of Allah in a Christian church as “a beautiful thing.”
Orthodox Christians believe Allah is a false god, and that prayers to a false god distract humans from the opportunity to commune with the true God, and to earn a place in heaven.
Asked why prayer to Allah is a “beautiful” thing, Stapert responded that “I’m not a theologian… I’ll leave that to Gina to answer.”
By press time, neither Campbell nor the press secretary at the church’s national office responded to TheDC.
Campbell also acknowledged that the Muslim groups gain politically from the invite to pray in the most famous church in Washington, D.C.
The invited was arranged with the South African ambassador to the United States, Ebrahim Rasool.
“He got the cathedral — he understands what it represents in the United States; he made the connection to the power of a cathedral to shape relationships, community, conversation, to do deep, important things,” Campbell told The Washington Post.
Campbell “wants to say that prayer is a unique opportunity to build relationships and coming together in a safe way to explore the relationship between Christians and Muslims,” Stapert said.
“The folks who are in the Muslim leadership are hopeful that people will notice that it is possible to get along with other religions, and its not necessary to persecute or kill them,” Stapert whimpered.
“It is opening a door to conversation, and not claiming that other religion is trying to hurt the other one,” he said.
Under current Islamic law, Christians are not allowed to pray in mosques, and are not allowed to set up visible churches in Saudi Arabia and other Muslim-dominated countries. In nearly all Muslim countries, Christians are not allowed to proselytize, and conversion to Islam is a capital crime in many Muslim communities. In Israel, because of Muslim opposition, Jews are not allowed to pray on the Temple mount, which was once occupied by a Jewish synagogue, then by a Christian church, and now by an Islamic mosque.
In many Muslim countries, such as Iraq, Syria, Libya and Egypt, and in northern Nigeria, Christians churches are bombed and burned by Muslims who cite Islamic law in justification.
In Africa, jihadi groups such as Boko Haram have killed many Christians, including Episcopalians. Christian groups have protested the murders, but U.S.-based Muslims groups have not used Muslim law to declare the jihad attacks as heretical, or “haram.”
In Iraq, Christians have been driven out of their home regions by jihadi groups, while people in the non-Christian Yezidi community have been murdered or sold as slaves by Muslims, who justify their actions with quotes from the Koran.
In response, some U.S.-based Muslim groups has criticized the Arab jihad groups, but have not condemned jihad warfare or the popular goal of a multinational, multi-ethnic Islamic theocracy, dubbed the caliphate.
In a caliphate, Christians and Jews are relegated to an apartheid-style lower status, dubbed “dhimmi.”
Stapert said he did not know about ISNA and CAIR, even though their official representative will be praying at his cathedral this week.
“Umm, that’s interesting,” Staper said when TheDC mentioned the 2009 court decision. “I know that there have been allegations about CAIR’s participation in a variety of things [but] I’m not an expert on CAIR.”