Religious distortions

Don't judge Islam, Christianity by extremists

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Are All Muslims Terrorist?! Are All Americans Crazy?!?(HD)

Few conservative political and religious leaders have condemned the Rev. Pat Robertson's call for assassinating Venezuela's leader to prevent him from using the country as a "launching pad for communistic infiltration and Muslim extremism."

The televangelist first denied saying it and then apologized. But an apology has never stopped conservative groups from demanding redress from anyone they consider guilty of hate speech.

The irony of Robertson's statement is that it occurred at a time when American Islamic groups are taking a strong stance against violence.

So far, more than 174 national organizations, mosques and Islamic centers have signed a religious edict or fatwa against terrorism -- something conservatives argue that they should do forcefully.

The July 28 statement by the Islamic religious council representing North America, says the Quran forbids violence targeting civilians and cooperating with anyone involved in it. Working with law enforcement to protect the lives of civilians is a religious and civic duty, the fatwa says.

One signee is the Council of American-Islamic Relations, a civil liberties group that has a chapter in Lexington. On Saturday, the local chapter celebrated its first year at a dinner also attended by Jewish and Christian religious leaders.

The local group has worked to educate the media, law enforcement and schools about the Muslim faith. It is also planning community service projects with local churches.

The goal is to break down stereotypes that create distrust and breed hostilities.

In that light, CAIR condemned Robertson's comments: "America's image is damaged by such inciting and irresponsible rhetoric at a time when we are trying to demand that other countries challenge their own religious extremists."

The Rev. Ted Haggard, president of the National Association of Evangelicals, did condemn Robertson's comments. The Colorado pastor is worried that the comments would increase the danger for missionaries in Venezuela.

"Pat doesn't speak for evangelicals any more than Dr. Phil speaks for mental-health professionals," Haggard told The Philadelphia Inquirer.

How odd. That's precisely the point Muslim groups try to make about extremists who distort Islam.