A new coalition of conservative, right-wing Christian and Jewish clerics intended to be a “counterweight” to so-called “Islamic supremacism” and “interfaith dialogue” announced its formation at an event that took place at the National Press Club in Washington D.C. on January 19.
The new group, Faith Leaders for America, is comprised of leaders making up the United States’ religious right. Many have a history of peddling anti-Muslim conspiracy theories and taking a hardline Judeo-Christian nationalist stance.
The groups also appears to be closely associated with the Center for Security Policy (CSP), an anti-Muslim think tank headed by notorious anti-Muslim conspiracy theorist Frank Gaffney.
In fact, Faith Leaders for America’s website was registered (it has since been made private) by Christine Brim and the Center for Security Policy on October 10, 2016. Brim formerly served as Chief Operating Officer at CSP and was listed as a senior fellow with the group last year. The website’s administrative contact is listed as Adam Savit, CSP’s director of strategic communications.
This comes as no surprise: Faith Leaders for America is comprised of individuals who regularly associate with Gaffney. Its posted mission statement is riddled with the same anti-Muslim conspiracy theories that Gaffney and his organization peddle.
One of the group’s planks, according to its website, includes opposition to “interfaith dialogue,” which it calls “clearly fraudulent.” The religious leaders assert that cooperation and dialogue between different religions is part of a “larger, stealthy [Muslim] Brotherhood ‘civilization jihad’ agenda” taking place in the United States.
This stance reflects beliefs held by anti-Muslim protagonists like Gaffney who believe the Muslim Brotherhood is actively working to infiltrate and subvert the United States from within.
Unsurprisingly, Faith Leaders for America has been lauded by Gaffney.
“These ‘Faith Leaders for America’ will work to challenge the political cover provided by the Muslim Brothers’ interfaith enablers,” he wrote in a short blog.
Stances of the group
According to the website, the group’s mission is “made the more urgent because of inroads that Muslim Brotherhood front groups, mosques and other Islamist organizations are making in our nation’s religious life, communities and national fabric.”
During its press conference, the group advocated for legislation designating the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization. Sen. Ted Cruz has introduced the latest iteration of this dubious bill, which is also intended to defame and discredit Muslim civil rights and advocacy organizations in the United States. The anti-Muslim movement has orchestrated a lengthy campaign to smear these organizations as Muslim Brotherhood front groups. A previous version of this bill was drafted with the help of disgraced former FBI and anti-Muslim figure John Guandolo.
Faith Leaders for America members
The faith leaders promoted by this group include William “Jerry” Boykin, a far-right figure known for his anti-Muslim and anti-LGBT activism. Boykin has previously claimed Islam “should not be protected under the First Amendment.” Ironically, Faith Leaders for America claims its commitment is “to freedom – freedom of religion, freedom of speech and the other liberties guaranteed by our Constitution.”
Another member is Rabbi Jon Hausman, who has close ties to anti-Muslim groups. Hausman has hosted anti-Muslim speakers at his Massachusetts-based Synagogue and has attended conferences sponsored by anti-Muslim groups.
Other members of Faith Leaders for America include Rev. David Barton, Rev. Jim Garlow, Bishop Aubrey Shines, Rev. Rick Scarborough, Bishop E.W. Jackson, and Sam Rohrer. These individuals each have a record of promoting anti-Muslim conspiracy theories and other hateful rhetoric.