80+ Long Island Faith Leaders Call on Rep. Peter King to Cancel Muslim Hearings

Urge Dialogue Instead of Divisive, Counterproductive "Muslim Radicalization" Congressional Hearings

February 17, 2011

Over 80 people of faith from Long Island, including Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, and interfaith leaders, sent a letter today to Representative Peter King (R-NY), urging him to cancel his planned Congressional hearings to investigate claims of "radicalization" in the American Muslim community. These diverse faith leaders believe the singling out of the Muslim community undermines fundamental American values and is counterproductive to improving national security.

The signers urge Rep. King, who represents part of Long Island, to "conven[e] a dialogue among faith leaders, law enforcement and elected officials" rather than hold hearing that "will only further divide our community and undermine our nation's highest ideals."

The hearings have attracted national controversy and concern among religious, civil rights , and national security organizations. Representatives Keith Ellison (D-MN) and Bennie Thompson (D-MS) have urged Rep. King to broaden the scope of the hearings to account for the array of threats our nation faces, but Representative King has refused. A poll released this week by Public Religion Research Institute also shows that nearly three-quarters (72%) of Americans agree that Congress should investigate religious extremism anywhere it exists and not single out Muslim -Americans.

Rep. King's stated motivation for the hearings is a concern that Muslim Americans do not adequately cooperate with law enforcement but he continues to ignore prominent law enforcement officials who disagree with his claim on Muslim cooperation.

Full text of the letter is here or below:

Dear Representative Peter King,

As religious leaders and people of faith across Long Island, we stand together to express our profound concern about the Congressional hearings you have proposed to investigate the Muslim-American community. We fear this effort will only further divide our community and undermine our nation's highest ideals. We urge you to cancel these hearings.

Protecting our nation requires allegiance to the fundamental values that give life to our democracy. A commitment to pluralism and respect for diversity are strengths in the fight against terrorism. We agree that law enforcement must find practical solutions to stop terrorism, whether these threats come from religious or non-religious extremists. Muslim-Americans have consistently denounced terrorism and worked closely with law enforcement to prevent violence. Building and maintaining trust with the Muslim community is crucial to furthering this cooperation, and we fear your hearings will only sow greater distrust and division at a time when unity and moral courage are needed.

A more constructive approach to strengthening the bonds of trust that bolster our security and protect our values would be convening a dialogue among faith leaders, law enforcement and elected officials such as yourself. It is with a spirit of goodwill and sincere hope that we propose beginning such an initiative with you.

Let us remember the lessons of history. Entire communities should never be targeted for suspicion of disloyalty. During World War II, Japanese Americans were deprived of their rights and forced into internment camps because of blanket distrust of their commitment to our country. The McCarthy hearings became a shameful national spectacle that falsely impugned the loyalty and destroyed the lives of many Americans. Catholics were once demonized as threats to democracy beholden to a foreign power. Jews and African Americans have faced centuries of suspicion and prejudice. Today, Muslim-Americans in many communities face fierce opposition when they propose to build mosques and worship peacefully. A growing number of Muslims are victims of hate crimes. This bigotry and discrimination, rooted in fear and ignorance, diminishes us all and unfairly maligns Americans who teach our children, serve our country, live peacefully and believe in the American dream.

Last month, our nation was shocked by a savage shooting spree in Arizona. This brazen attack killed or injured fellow Americans, including your colleague in the House of Representatives, Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. As we mourn together in the wake of this painful tragedy, leaders of both parties have called for an elevated civic dialogue that transcends fear-mongering and polarization. These hearings are unworthy of that noble goal.

Rev. Mark Lukens, O.C.C.
Pastor, Bethany United Church of Christ
Chair, The Interfaith Alliance,
Long Island Chapter

Rev. Gregory J. Cappuccino
St. Jane Frances de Chantal
Wantagh, NY

Rabbi Joshua Lobel
Temple Chaverim
Plainview, NY

Rev. D. James French, S.J.
Pastor and Superior of the Jesuit Community
St. Anthony's Parish
Oceanside, NY

Rev. William F. Brisotti
Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal Church,
Wyandanch, NY

Sister Jeanne Clark, OP
Coordinator of Pax Christi Long Island
West Islip, NY

Sister Rosalie A. Carven, CSJ
West Babylon, NY

Sr. Alice McVey CSJ
Social Ministry Coordinator
Our Lady of Grace Church
West Babylon, NY

Sister Eileen McCann, CSJ
St. Joseph's Convent
Brentwood, NY

S. Kerry Handal, CSJ
St. Joseph Convent
Brentwood, NY

Rev. Chloe Breyer
Interfaith Center of New York

Lisa Sharon Harper
New York Faith & Justice

Sister Marie Danaher, O.P.
Pastoral Associate
Sacred Heart Parish
North Merrick, NY

Sister Mary Ann Crimmins
Our Lady of Grace Convent
West Babylon, NY

M. Athar Suhail
Masjid Darul Qur'an
The Muslim Center of Long Island

Rabbi Michael A. White
Senior Rabbi
Temple Sinai of Roslyn
Roslyn Heights, NY

Habeeb U. Ahmed
Chairman, Board of Trustees
Islamic Center of Long Island
Westbury, NY
Human Rights Commission
Nassau County

Rabbi Michael S. Churgel, RJE
Temple Beth Elohim
Old Bethpage, NY

Sister Barbara Gooding, OSU
Ursuline Sister of Tildonk
Brentwood, Long Island

Sister Eugenia Calabrese, CSJ
Congregation of St. Joseph
Brentwood, Long Island

Sister Mary Beth Moore, SC
Sister of Charity
Wantagh, NY

Miriam H. Corr
Sister of St. Joseph
Brentwood, NY

Rabbi Irwin A. Zeplowitz
The Community Synagogue
Port Washington, NY

Rev. JoAnn Barrett
Gathering of Light Multifaith Spiritual Fellowship
Dix Hills, NY

Tahir Qureshi
Chairman Board of Trustees
Islamic Association of Long Island
Selden, NY

Nancy Dwyer
Pax Christi Long Island
Valley Stream, NY

Mary Hughes OP
Sisters of St. Dominic
Amityville, NY

Richard Tibbets
Recording Secretary
The Interfaith Alliance
Long Island Chapter
Floral Park, NY

Dolores Tibbets
The Interfaith Alliance
Long Island Chapter
Floral Park, NY

Rev. Angela Cesa
Albertson, NY

Luis Valenzuela
Executive Director
Long Island Immigrant Alliance
Amityville, NY

Rabbi Randy Sheinberg
Temple Tikvah
New Hyde Park, NY

Martin Melkonian
Department of Economics
Hofstra University

Iqbal M. Chaudhry
President Elect
IALI (Selden Mosque)
Coram, NY

Syed Khalid
Scientist, Brookhaven National Laboratory
Upton, NY

Mara Bard
Coordinator of the Long Island School of the Americas Watch
Nassau Chapter.
Baldwin, NY

Richard Sackett
Suffolk Progressive Vision
Moriches, NY

Rathi Raja
Hindu Faith
Manhasset, Long Island

Karen Sackett
Suffolk Progressive Vision
Veterans for Peace Long Island
Moriches, NY

Nina Uchida E.
Women In Black
South Country Peace Group
Bellport, NY

Eve Sokol
Women in Black
South Country Peace Group
Bellport, NY

Bill Kokell
Veterans For Peace Long Island
South Country Peace Group
Bellport, NY

Margaret Melkonian
Pax Christi LI Council Member
Long Island Alliance for Peaceful Alternatives
Garden City, NY

Sheila Croke
Pax Christi Long Island
Greenlawn, NY

Peter Kingsley
Huntington Station, NY

Barbara Kingsley
Huntington Station, NY

Charlotte Koons
Northport, NY

Ben Bortin
Staten Island, NY

Shirley Romaine
Great Neck, NY

Stanley Romaine
Great Neck, NY

Rosemarie Zacchi
Suffolk Peace Network

RuthClaire Weintraub
Huntington Station, NY

Heather Cottin
Freeport, NY

Arlene Holmes
Kings Park, NY

Gretchen Haynes
Northport, NY
Religious Society of Friends [Quaker]

Gary Kelly
Massapequa Park, NY

Agnes Kelley
Massapequa Park, NY

Rev. Larry D. Jennings, Sr
Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church
Huntington, NY

Rabbi Jeffrey Clopper
Temple Beth El
Huntington, NY

Shaik Ubaid, MD
New York Chapter
Muslim Peace Coalition, USA

Seemi Ahmed
Muslim Peace Coalition
Albertson, NY

Anne Cimino
Pax Christi, LI
Freeport, NY

Larry McNally
Northport, NY

Bishop Georges Franck
Huntington Station, NY

Sonia Palacio-Grottola
Commack, NY

Arfa Khan MD, FACR
Professor of Radiology
Albert Einstein College of Medicine
Chief of Thoracic Radiology
Long Island Jewish Medical Center
New Hyde Park, NY

Rev. David Czeisel
Dix Hills, NY

E. Russell
Dix Hills United Methodist Church
Dix Hills, NY

Deron Ozley
Dix Hills United Methodist Church
Dix Hills, NY

Richard Koubek, PhD
Chair, Roundtable for the Common Good
Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal Church
Wyandanch, NY

Marcia Specht
Huntington Station, NY

Ed Roldan
Long Island Latino Teachers Association
Chairperson, Public Relations Committee
Bay Shore, NY

Suffolk County Interfaith Anti-Bias Task Force

Joan Ryan
St. Joseph's College
Patchogue, NY

Charles Wittman

Josephine Girardin

Karen Martinez

Claire Z. Bock

Vera Weiss

Sister Patricia Grant CSJ

Audrey Korth