Last week, the Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin hailed the arrival of “a strong new player in the pro-Israel community,” Concerned Women for America. It’s “music to the ears of Israel and her friends,” Rubin wrote, “that a 500,000-strong conservative group that has mostly focused on social and economic issues has adopted defense of Israel as part of its core mission.”
What Rubin doesn’t mention is that, in addition to a number of other very right-wing causes, CWFA has a history of anti-Muslim activism. In particular, the group pushes the “creeping sharia” conspiracy theory, which holds that Islamic religious law represents an imminent threat to the United States, and which my colleague Wajahat Ali and I debunked in a 2011 brief.
An announcement for a CWFA event in Iowa last November claimed, “Islam is more than a religion; it is a military strategy and a political and socio-economic system,” and asked, “Would you recognize Sharia Law in your community? Can we coexist like the bumper stickers suggest? Can true freedom survive if Islam thrives?”
A recent CWFA podcast on “Confronting the threat of Islam” — not “Islamism” or “Islamic extremism,” but Islam itself — featured Tom Lynch, Director of Mission Advancement for the Thomas More Law Center, another organization with a history of anti-Muslim activism.
“Today the Trojan horse is Islam,” said Lynch. “It’s entered America disguised as a religion. It’s ultimate objective is political, and that’s to destroy America and establish an Islamic nation under Allah and sharia law.” Thanks to “unprincipled career politicians that are corrupting our government,” Lynch warns, Islam threatens to corrupt America’s vital essence. “If you expect to remain free, it’s out duty as Americans, and the duty of everyone, to become informed about the threat of Islam within our gates.”
CWFA has been at active in lobbying for anti-sharia legislation, most recently in North Carolina, where they promoted “American Laws for American Courts,” template legislation created by attorney David Yerushalmi, who has advocated making it “a felony punishable by 20 years in prison to knowingly act in furtherance of, or to support the, adherence to Islam.”
In an op-ed in North Carolina’s News Observer last week, Faiza Patel and Amos Toh of the Brennan Center for Justice wrote that the measure would “create a series of damaging, unintended consequences for North Carolinians of all faiths.” (Patel, Toh and I examined some of these consequences in a recent report. A 2011 Center for American Progress report Fear, Inc: The Roots of the Islamophobia Network in America, also detailed the various groups and individuals pushing anti-Islam measures.)
Missouri Governor Jay Nixon recently vetoed a nearly identical measure, saying it “seeks to solve a problem that does not exist.” Christian and Jewish groups have also opposed the measures on the grounds that they infringe religious liberty, particularly for religious minorities.
Supporters of Israel might want to think twice before embracing a group with this sort of extremist agenda. They might also want to ask why Rubin didn’t think it worth mentioning.