This November a coalition of anti-Muslim and Religious Right groups are hosting “The Constitution or Sharia—Preserving Freedom Conference” in Nashville, Tennessee, dubbed “the first national conference on Sharia and the Islamization of America.” The location does not seem to be coincidental: the Tennessee legislature recently weighed a bill that would make it a felony to follow Sharia law and the town of Murfreesboro, just south of Nashville, has witnessed vicious anti-Muslim attacks and arson against a planned mosque. A lawsuit against the mosque declared that Islam is not a religion and therefore Muslims do not deserve First Amendment protections. Presidential candidate Herman Cain went to Murfreesboro to condemn the planned mosque as an “abuse of our freedom of religion,” before declaring that municipalities have a right to ban mosques.
The summit features panels on issues such as “Fighting Islamist Propaganda in the Media,” “Grassroots Organizing Against Sharia and Rabats (including Mega-Mosques),” and “Defending Liberty In Legislatures.” The chief sponsor of the event is the extremist media outlet WorldNetDaily and speakers include a mix of the usual anti-Muslim activists including Robert Spencer, Frank Gaffney and Pamela Geller, along with Religious Right leaders who have consistently attacked the rights of Muslims such as Jay Sekulow, Mat Staver, Andrea and Jim Lafferty, E.W. Jackson and William Murray. Michele Bachmann is listed an invited speaker but has not been confirmed:
• Pamela Geller of Stop Islamization of America and Atlas Shrugs
• Robert Spencer of Stop Islamization of America and Jihad Watch
• Jay Sekulow of American Center for Law and Justice
• Mathew Staver of Liberty Counsel
• William J. Murray of Religious Freedom Coalition and No 911 Mosque
• Frank Gaffney of Center for Security Policy
• Christopher Holton of Center for Security Policy
• Lou Ann Zelenik of Tennessee Freedom Coaltion
• Andrea Lafferty of Traditional Values Coalition
• James Lafferty of Virginia Anti-Sharia Task Force
• Barrister Paul Diamond, United Kingdom
• Father Keith Roderick
• Bishop Earl W. Jackson
• Fred Grandy – Actor and former congressman
• Wafa Sultan
• Rev. Dr. Mark Durie, Australia
Lou Ann Zelenik is best known for the malicious anti-Muslim themes in her unsuccessful campaign for Congress last year, which focused on stopping the Murfreesboro mosque development. E.W. Jackson is currently relying heavily on anti-Muslim rhetoric in his bid for U.S. Senate in Virginia.
This won’t be the first time Religious Right leaders and anti-Muslim activists have come together at a major event, and anti-Muslim activists have started appearing frequently on Christian conservative radio outlets.
With another gathering set to demonize Muslims and hype fears of “creeping Sharia,” the Religious Right’s ostensible commitment to religious freedom yet again doesn’t translate into freedom for non-Christian faiths.
For example, notice the involvement of “William J. Murray of Religious Freedom Coalition and No 911 Mosque.” As Kyle noted last year in a post about Murray, the Religious Freedom Coalition is “dedicated to the equality of all mankind and the freedom of religious expression” but is also running a campaign determined to stop Muslims from having those same rights by trying to block the construction of the Park 51 Islamic Community Center. The center opened last week without protests, and so far, Lower Manhattan is not under the rule of Sharia law.