The Tri-Faith Initiative is an interfaith project in Omaha, Nebraska that intends to co-locate a synagogue, a church and a mosque on the same campus, with a shared-use building at its center.
The Synagogue is the only structure built so far, but the Mosque hopes to break ground this spring. They are awaiting a decision by a congregation of the United Church of Christ, (Countryside Community Church) as to whether or not they will form the third leg of the Tri-Faith stool.
The bulk of the Mosque’s funding is contingent on a Christian church being built on the site as well.
The Episcopal diocese had been the original Christian partner, but later decided to pull out of the project after having spent more than a million dollars to purchase their part of the proposed campus.
Their stated reason for the reversal was that, upon further reflection, they didn’t really need another church building, however it would seem that such research would’ve been done before investing seven figures into a land purchase.
The more likely reason is that they wisely reconsidered after being made aware of the deeply disturbing associations of one of their proposed Tri-Faith partners.
This theory is bolstered by the timing of their decision – coming a mere two weeks after learning of the proposed Mosque’s ties to known front groups for the Muslim Brotherhood in America.
The Tri-Faith board is courting Countryside Community Church as the replacement, and are actively trying to tamp down any scrutiny of the project, lest resulting revelations drive away yet another potential partner.
Dr. Mark Christian, founder and Executive Director of the Global Faith Institute, himself a former Muslim and the son and nephew of high-ranking advisors to the Muslim Brotherhood in his native Egypt, has been asking a single, very reasonable question: why is an interfaith project in Omaha, Nebraska permitting the involvement of known supporters and funders of Hamas?
The two groups in question, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) were founded by the Brotherhood and are classified by the FBI as unindicted co-conspirators in the nation’s largest ever terrorism funding investigation – the Holy Land Foundation trial – and were clearly involved in the laundering of money in order to circumvent American laws against the funding of terrorist organizations.
Dr. Christian’s simple and reasonable question has been met with denials, silence, and finally, with threats of legal action if his questioning derails their “land deal.”
The project has the backing of some of the wealthiest families in Omaha, among them the daughter of billionaire investor Warren Buffett. Susie Buffett, is rumored to be the “generous non-Muslim donor” who has pledged the funding for the construction of the multi-million dollar Mosque.
Ms. Buffett is also a congregant at Countryside Community Church, where the Pastor, Rev. Eric Elnes has become so enamored of the idea of joining the Tri-Faith project, he has deliberately misled his own flock about the radical Islamist ties of their future partners.
The United Church of Christ (not surprisingly, the denomination to which Obama’s former pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright belongs) has signed on to a remarkably anti-Semitic document crafted by the UCC Palestine-Israel Network. The resolution is intended to bring about a “just peace,” but is so completely one-sided in favor of the Palestinians as to be the functional equivalent of an Israeli suicide note.
The Union of Reform Judaism (the Jewish sect to which the Tri-Faith Synagogue belongs) is a strong proponent of the “two-state solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and vocally opposed Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech before a joint session of Congress in early March.
He appears to have taken the question asked by Dr. Christian as a personal affront, and has refused to meet with him or any of the other staff or supporters of Global Faith Institute.
Indeed, Rabbi Azriel is actively attempting to sabotage the work of GFI, and brands Dr. Christian (and by extension, any citizen who wants an answer to Dr. Christian’s simple question) as an Islamophobe. Of course, he refuses to answer the question itself.
With anti-Semitism increasing rapidly in Western Europe and the United States, Dr. Christian has put together the first ever “pro-Zionist” event in Nebraska, calling it “Israel in the Heartland.” It is a night to honor Israel and the Jewish people, and will feature well-known holocaust survivors and a speech by Morton Klein, president of the Zionist Organization of America.
There will be many honored guests of all faiths, and Rabbi Azriel has been invited as well. The keynote address was to be given by the Honorable Roey Gilad, the Israeli Consul General to the Midwest, as a representative of the Israeli government.
I say “was to give” because Rabbi Azriel, apparently terrified that the presence of a representative of the Israeli government at Dr. Christian’s event might be perceived by fellow Jews as granting legitimacy to Dr. Christian’s as yet unanswered question, took it upon himself to call Mr. Gilad personally and demand he cancel his appearance.
The good rabbi called Dr. Christian an “Islamophobe,” telling Mr. Gilad that he dare not be associated with such a man or the organization he heads. This, despite the fact that Dr. Christian’s event is a celebration of Israel and Judaism itself, meant as a bulwark against the rising misinformation of the leftist “anti-Zionist” groups.
Mr. Gilad, while a diplomat, is also a politician. He chose to rescind his acceptance of GFI’s invitation, rather than wade into the murky waters roiled by Rabbi Azriel.
The event, to be held on March 19th will still be successful without Mr. Gilad’s participation. There will be many other Israeli and Jewish luminaries present who know Dr. Christian personally and know Rabbi Azriel’s cartoonish depiction of him to be false and more than a little malicious.
Indeed, these other participants are quite well-connected themselves and are working to fill Mr. Gilad’s spot with a more prestigious guest. With his behind the scenes politicking, Rabbi Azriel may have merely opened more widely, the door he was trying to shut.
Joe Herring is a freelance writer and serves as the Communications Director for the Global Faith Institute in Omaha, Nebraska.