You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Tue, Feb 22, 2011 : 1 p.m.

Faith in the news: reactions to congressional probe on alleged Muslim extremism

By Pam Stout

Although many Americans haven’t heard about upcoming congressional hearings led by Rep. Peter King on "alleged extremism in the Muslim community," more than half think it's a good idea, according to a new poll by the Public Religion Research Institute. Those who were more likely to support the idea include men, white evangelicals and those who most trust Fox News. More than seven in 10 Americans believed Congress should not focus exclusively on the Muslim community. Read more about the study at Religion News Service.

Stephen Prothero
, author and religious scholar who recently spoke in Ann Arbor, says the hearings, led by the new chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, target a specific religious group and should be canceled.

After King refused to broaden the scope of the hearings to address all forms of religious extremism, more than 80 religious leaders from King's home district in Long Island called for cancellation.

Prothero explains:
"I believe that the world's religions, Islam included, are both toxic and tonic, powerful forces for evil as well as good. . . The problem with King's approach is his refusal to listen to testimony about, for example, the “radicalization” of American Christianity. Throughout America’s history Christian extremists (in the form of the Ku Klux Klan, for example) have posed a far greater threat to our nation’s health than extremists of any other religion."

Read more of Stephen Prothero's opinion piece at CNN Belief.

Pam Stout leads the Faith and Parenting sections for Reach her at



Wed, Feb 23, 2011 : 1:35 p.m.

Islam gets the press, because they are the enemy du-jour. (although they are rapidly being replaced by &quot;govt workers&quot;). Violent acts committed by religious extremists are not the sole domain of Muslim extremists. It was not long ago that Christian extremists in this country were bombing doctors offices and even gunned down a doctor IN CHURCH!. If a congressman wants to spend his time and our money investigating extremism in this country he should look under every rock, not just the one seen on FOX News. Macabre- &quot;Right now, most of the violence in the world in the name of religion is coming from Islamic sources. We can't ignore that in the name of political correctness.&quot; on average +-30,000/year people are shot in this country, are you in favor of holding hearings on what we can do to control the use of guns in crimes and suicides? From Reason Magazine 2006- &quot;Even if terrorists were able to pull off one attack per year on the scale of the 9/11 atrocity, that would mean your one-year risk would be one in 100,000 and your lifetime risk would be about one in 1300. (300,000,000 ÷ 3,000 = 100,000 ÷ 78 years = 1282) In other words, your risk of dying in a plausible terrorist attack is much lower than your risk of dying in a car accident, by walking across the street, by drowning, in a fire, by falling, or by being murdered. ...We ultimately vanquish terrorism when we refuse to be terrorized.&quot; <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>


Wed, Feb 23, 2011 : 3:13 p.m.

Did I say we should ignore violence from any group Sally? What I am suggesting is a rational response, not knee jerk reactions based on fear and xenophobia.


Wed, Feb 23, 2011 : 3:03 p.m.

Great post.

Silly Sally

Wed, Feb 23, 2011 : 2:28 p.m.

Oh, so we should always turn the other cheek and be killed? How Silly.


Wed, Feb 23, 2011 : 4:56 a.m.

Xenophobia at its finest.


Wed, Feb 23, 2011 : 4:03 a.m.

I see no evidence that these proposed hearings would result in any railroading, blacklisting, or persecution of the general Muslim American population. Like it or not, Islamic extremism is a serious issue with regards to national security and world stability and, like it or not, extremism perpetuated in name of other religions is minuscule or non-existent with regards to US security. It's sad to see people like Mr. Prothero try to cry racism in order to prevent a much needed discussion of such an important issue.


Wed, Feb 23, 2011 : 2:05 a.m.

McCarthyism, anyone? There's a terrorist under every bed! Who among your neighbors is a secret Islamic extremeist? Who, in your family, is suspicious? C'mon; rat them out! &quot;I hold in my hands a list of over 100 Islamic extremists holding responsible postitions in the Department of State! The enemy is among us! We must be vigilant! Who do you know that's a possible threat? Turn them in! Do your (extremist, right-wing, jingoist) patriotic duty! It's the American way! Sound familiar?


Tue, Feb 22, 2011 : 9:13 p.m.

@ Tony Livingston Here is a list of modern day Christian extremist groups: 1. Of course there was the Hutaree in our own backyard. 2. Army of God 3. Christian Identity 4. Christian Patriot Movement 5. The Lambs of Christ 6. Concerned Christians


Thu, Feb 24, 2011 : 4:56 p.m.

Don't forget a bunch of the traditional Roman Catholics.

Tony Livingston

Tue, Feb 22, 2011 : 8:59 p.m.

Is the Ku Klux Klan still involved in violence? I haven't heard much about it. I am concerned about the Islamic extremists. However, we do not want to go back to the days of the McCarthy hearings.

Pam Stout

Tue, Feb 22, 2011 : 8:43 p.m.

Townie, Thank you for pointing out the typographical error. At this point, changing the poll question would reset the votes to zero, so I will leave it as is for now. I'm doubly sorry for the error now that it has to sit out there uncorrected. Thanks for reading!


Tue, Feb 22, 2011 : 8:32 p.m.

Wish the could afford to editors or just spell check software: 'They should coninue; it's important to keep tabs on extremism.' coninue ? Perhaps it's a new word I didn't learn in HS, college or in business.


Tue, Feb 22, 2011 : 8:17 p.m.

@ Macabre Sunset Are you paying attention to the news!!!!??? MOST of the violence in the world is being perpetrated by the United States! Who else is going around invading other countries under false pretenses? Then occupying their country while in the process killing 100,000+ people? Had to say that... About the article, I think it is ridiculous that there is an inquiry of Muslims to the exclusion of Christians. Christians have their extremists too. But they just kill people on the left, so those on the right see no need to investigate that.

Macabre Sunset

Tue, Feb 22, 2011 : 9:25 p.m.

Actually, there are many invasions going on around the world, for many different reasons. Many far more deadly. Don't forget the US helped prevent the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of Muslims in the Bosnian region not that long ago. We could get into whether the US attacking Iraq was based solely on Bush's religious quests. That's a worthy discussion. However, the populace behind Bush's invasion was not supporting it because of religion. As for the rest of your rant, we have a left-leaning government. Who are the Christians here killing? The FBI is already all over the isolated group that tries to kill abortion doctors. That's a known enemy. Hutaree is being prosecuted before it was even able to act. But the Islamists were able to embed a killer in our military who had access to a military base. That's something that does need to be addressed.

Macabre Sunset

Tue, Feb 22, 2011 : 7:55 p.m.

We have to focus on today's biggest threats. I wouldn't expect a commission formed today to address the Spanish Inquisition to be all that effective. Right now, most of the violence in the world in the name of religion is coming from Islamic sources. We can't ignore that in the name of political correctness.