Christian Conservative Leader Calls for No More Mosques in U.S.

The site of a proposed mosque near Ground Zero has launched a heated debate about whether the mosque is appropriate.
CBS

Updated at 5:55 p.m. ET

In the wake of the uproar over the mosque to be built near "ground zero" in New York, a prominent, controversial social conservative is calling for the prohibition of the construction of any mosques in the United States.

"Permits should not be granted to build even one more mosque in the United States of America, let alone the monstrosity planned for Ground Zero," Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association wrote this week on the AFA website. "This is for one simple reason: each Islamic mosque is dedicated to the overthrow of the American government."

Fischer is the AFA's director of Issue Analysis for Government and Public Policy. The AFA is a conservative Christian group that been in the news before for taking a number of extreme positions -- for instance, earlier this year Fischer called for Tilikum, the SeaWorld orca that thrashed its trainer to death, to be killed according to Biblical rules. In 2005, the AFA finally ended its boycott of Disney, which it kept of for nine years to protest the company's erosion of moral values.

The AFA operates nearly 200 radio stations across the country under the American Family Radio banner and sometimes features congressmen on its shows. Reps. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) and Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.), for instance, were recent guests of one show. Fischer is listed as an invited speaker at the Values Voter Summit next month, along with Rep. Michele Bachmann, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, among others.

A number of conservatives have decried the decision by New York City officials to allow for the construction of an Islamic community center and mosque a few blocks from the site of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. A conservative advocacy group founded by the Rev. Pat Robertson vowed to challenge the city's decision in state court.

Fischer's position takes the debate to an entirely new level. He writes that every mosque "is a potential jihadist recruitment and training center" and that because of Islam's "subversive ideology, Muslims cannot claim religious freedom protections under the First Amendment."

Another AFA writer, Elijah Friedeman, wrote that he agreed each mosque is a "potential jihadist recruitment and training center" -- Friedeman wrote, "Each and every mosque could potentially - existing in possibility - be a threat, but the fact is that the very large majority of mosques don't threaten America's existence or anything for that matter."

Friedeman said that the right to build mosques in the U.S. should be protected.

"If we ignore the legal foundation of our nation, we will be left in a legal quicksand with no protection from others who want to suspend our freedoms when they feel like it," he said. "I would give the Devil the benefit of the law, if for no other reason than my own safety."

Meanwhile, while the debate continues over the New York mosque, President Obama yesterday released a statement to commemorate the start of Ramadan, saying Islam has always been part of America. Ramadan is the holiday during which observant Muslims fast from dawn to dusk each day for a month to develop patience, humility and spirituality.

"These rituals remind us of the principles that we hold in common, and Islam's role in advancing justice, progress, tolerance, and the dignity of all human beings," Mr. Obama said in a statement. "Ramadan is a celebration of a faith known for great diversity and racial equality. And here in the United States, Ramadan is a reminder that Islam has always been part of America and that American Muslims have made extraordinary contributions to our country."

The president will be hosting an Iftar dinner celebrating Ramadan at the White House later this week.

The White House has refused to weigh in on the mosque debate in New York. Deputy White House Press Secretary Bill Burton said Tuesday, "The president has made clear that we are not at war with Islam, and that we can have these sorts of discussions well within the traditions of openness and religious freedom that our country is based on."

A number of potential Republican 2012 presidential nominees have weighed in on the issue, however. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee called the New York mosque "really offensive to most New Yorkers and Americans," while Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty called it "inappropriate."

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