As the right's anti-religious freedom campaign against American Muslims gathers team, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg delivered a stirring speech yesterday about a proposed Muslim community center near the site of the 9/11 terrorist attack. Mayor Bloomberg's powerful words echo an enduring American principle: our Constitution protects the religious freedom of all people and their right to worship as they choose without government interference. Bloomberg's speech came yesterday amid continued attacks on the religious freedom of Muslim Americans. Excerpts from the speech: Read More

Of course, it's not all that new. We've been watching this fester over the last decade. But the venom of the growing anti-Muslim hate campaign -- and the willingness to disregard basic religious and civil liberties for American Muslims -- should be a shocking development in a nation that has championed religious freedom for more than two centuries. Consider, for example, recent comments by Tennessee's lieutenant governor, Ron Ramsey: At a recent event in Hamilton County, Ramsey was asked by a man in the audience about the "threat that's invading our country from the Muslims." Ramsey proclaimed his support for the Constitution and the whole "Congress shall make no law" thing when it comes to religion. But he also said that Islam, arguably, is less a faith than it is a "cult." "Now, you could even argue whether being a Muslim is actually a religion, or is it a nationality, way of life, cult whatever you want to call it," Ramsey said. "Now certainly we do protect our religions, but at the same time this is something we are going to have to face." This kind of religious bigotry has been growing in prominence in Texas as well. Shortly after the 2006 elections, David Barton of the far-right group WallBuilders wrote that Americans were justifiably concerned that Minnesotans had elected a Muslim, Keith Ellison, to Congress: "After all, America and Americans are currently the target of attacks by members of the same Islamic faith that Ellison professes; and while Ellison may not hold the same specific beliefs as America’s enemies, he nevertheless holds the same religion. . . . Ellison may not have the same beliefs as the Muslims who openly decry and even attack America; nevertheless, their behavior reflects on him. It is therefore understandable that citizens outside his district are highly concerned." Read More

by Dan Quinn

Remember when we told you how Cathie Adams, when she served as head of the far-right group Texas Eagle Forum, arrogantly questioned the religious faith of President Obama? Today we saw a perfect example of why that kind of religious bigotry continues to make the political rounds. The far-right website OneNewsNow -- "the day's stories from a biblical perspective" -- has a new post that recycles the long discredited claim that President Obama is a Muslim: "Since before he was elected, controversy has stirred over the extent of President Obama's ties to Islam. During the campaign, he spoke openly of both his Muslim upbringing and his adult conversion to Christianity. But now two major Middle East media outlets -- Nile TV International and Israel Today Magazine -- are reporting that the president has admitted in recent months that he is a Muslim. Those outlets say that Obama, in a one-on-one meeting earlier this year with Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit, told Gheit that he was still a Muslim, the son of a Muslim father, and the step-son of a Muslim step-father; that his half brothers in Kenya are Muslims; and that he was sympathetic towards the Muslim agenda." Good grief. Read More

An odd mix, yes? Let's bring you up to speed. According to its website, Harmony Public Schools operates 25 K-12 college preparatory charter schools, with more than 12,000 students in all, that focus on math, science, engineering and computer technologies. These schools have received substantial praise for student achievement from the Texas Education Agency, recognition by former President George W. Bush and numerous other Republican elected officials, and major funding from mainstream foundations, including the Dell and Gates Foundations. Nevertheless, a newly formed group called West Texas Patriots is questioning the opening of a new Harmony Science Academy in Odessa this fall. The group's members claim that the schools have ties to radical Islam, noting links between the foundation that funds the schools and Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish Muslim and intellectual (who actually lives in northeastern Pennsylvania). Gulen appears to be a controversial figure (to some people, anyway), but there doesn't seem to be sufficient evidence to support the charge that he is an "Islamic extremist." Read More

Texas Freedom Network

"It is clear to the AMA that the conversion therapy needs to end in the United States given the risk of deliberate harm to LGBTQ people." newsweek.com/america… #txlege #YallMeansAll