Kinnamon to speak at Times Square Rally
opposing Peter King hearings on Islam
New York, March 4, 2010 -- the general secretary of the
National Council of Churches will be among the religious leaders addressing
a 2 p.m. rally in Times Square Sunday to protest Congressional hearings
aimed at investigating Muslims in the United States.
The hearings are organized by Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), chair of the House
Homeland Security committee. Critics say the hearings on Islam are
reminiscent of McCarthyism and will tend to "demonize" Muslims.
Rev. Dr. Michael Kinnamon, NCC general secretary, has been at the forefront
of activities supporting the freedom of religion for all U.S. residents,
including Muslims who have been targets of anti-Islam discrimination and
open attacks for years, especially in the decade following the terror
attacks of September 11, 2001.
Last year Kinnamon defended the building of the Cordoba Community Center and
Mosque in downtown Manhattan, and helped organize an interfaith summit to
protest a threat by a Florida church to burn the Quran.
In earlier statements, Kinnamon has strongly affirmed religious liberty and
tolerance for all groups. "We are made richer and deeper in our Christian
community by our relationship with Muslim and Jewish groups."
The March 6 rally, meeting under the banner, "I Am a Muslim, Too," is
expected to be attended by more than 75 interfaith, nonprofit, governmental
and civil liberties groups.
The invitation to address the rally came from Imam Feisal
Abdul Rauf, known for his association with Cordoba House, and the American
Society for Muslim Advancement. Also participating in the rally is musician Russell Simons,
who explained its purpose this way: "As invested Americans, we acknowledge
the important work of the Congressional Committee on Homeland Security.
However, we're concerned the hearings will send the wrong message and
alienate American Muslims instead of partnering with them, potentially
putting their lives at risk by inciting fear and enmity."
Last year, Kinnamon said the chain of prejudice in the U.S. needs to be
"The alternative ... is to engage in a bigotry that will
scar our generation in the same way as bigotry scarred our forebears," he
said in comments supporting the building of Cordoba House.
"Three-hundred years ago, European settlers came to these shores with a
determination to conquer and settle at the expense of millions of indigenous
peoples who were regarded as sub-human savages. Today, we canít look back on
that history without painful contrition.
"One-hundred and fifty years ago, white Americans subjugated black Africans
in a cruel slavery that was justified with Bible proof-texts and a belief
that blacks were inferior to whites. Today, we look back on that history
with agonized disbelief.
"Sixty years ago, in a time of war and great fear, tens of thousands of
Japanese-Americans were deprived of their property and forced into detention
camps because our grandparents feared everyone of Japanese ancestry. Today
that decision is universally regarded as an unconscionable mistake and a
blot on American history.
"Today, millions of Muslims are subjected to thoughtless generalizations,
open discrimination and outright hostility because of the actions of a tiny
minority whose violent acts defy the teachings of Mohammed.
"How will we explain our ignorance and our compliance to our grandchildren?"
Since its founding in 1950, the National Council of
the Churches of Christ in the USA has been the leading force for
shared ecumenical witness among Christians in the United States. The NCC's
37 member communions -- from a wide spectrum of Protestant, Anglican,
Orthodox, Evangelical, historic African American and Living Peace
churches -- include 45 million persons in more than 100,000 local
congregations in communities across the nation.
NCC News contact:
Philip E. Jenks, 212-870-2228 (office), 646-853-4212 (cell),