As protest and controversy mount ahead of Thursday's House committee hearings on radical Islam, a Christian leader contends that the hearings are actually good for Muslims because they allow the faith's leaders to denounce the actions of extremists who are misusing the name of Islam.
Dr. Richard Land, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, praised the upcoming meetings for allowing Muslim leaders to separate themselves from Islamic terrorists and establish their loyalty to the United States.
"This is a great opportunity for the Muslim community to come forward and denounce terrorism," Land told The Christian Post on Monday.
The long-time religious freedom expert said he would advise Muslim leaders to reject the acts of American terrorists – such as that of Faisal Shahzad, who attempted to detonate a car bomb in Times Square – and to aid authorities to stop the recruitment of American Muslims by terrorist groups.
"If they (Muslims) don't do that and attack the questioning, they're exacerbating the problem," Land said.
Republican Rep. Peter King of New York, who is chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, will be leading the hearings on "radicalization" of Muslim-American communities. King says the meetings are warranted after the attempted car bombing and the recruitment of Minnesota Muslims to the Somali terrorist group Al-Shabaab.
But Muslims have urged King to cancel the discussions, asserting that the hearings single the Muslim community out when terrorists come from all races and cultures.
Muslim Congressman Keith Ellison (D- Minn.) called the inquiry "McCarthyistic," according to the Star Tribune. He also denounced the hearings in a March 3 webcast as being on the same level of offensive as holding hearings for "Irish people who drink too much or blacks who sell drugs."
A coalition of 80 spiritual leaders representing the Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Muslim and Hindu faiths in King's district urged their U.S. representative in a letter, "Building and maintaining trust with the Muslim community is crucial to furthering cooperation, and we fear your hearings will only sow greater distrust and division at a time when unity and moral courage are needed."
However, King dismissed their concerns claiming that those opposing the hearing are so concerned with being politically correct that they are missing the real threat.
"They are caught in a world of denial. They want to believe everyone loves each other and all hold hands and [sing] 'Kumbaya,'" he said in a CNN broadcast last month. "My job is to keep Americans alive."
Land defended King stating that the New York congressman is simply responding to the facts of terrorism.
"It is hardly religious profiling to look into this," Land said. "Nine out of 10 terrorist acts are performed by Muslims with [a] twisted view of the Muslim religion."
The series of hearings entitled, "The Extent of Radicalization in the American Muslim Community and that Community's Response" will commence on Thursday at 9:30 a.m. ET