NASHVILLE – The Tennessee church that recently gave a platform to the Dutch politician who was barred from the U.K. for his view of Islam found itself in crosshairs once again with a conference billing itself as America's first on countering the rise of Shariah.
Organizers of yesterday's Preserving Freedom Conference at Cornerstone Church in Madison, Tenn., had been forced to find a new venue after threats of violence from Muslims caused the host hotel to cancel.
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The organizers say the decision by the management of the Hutton Hotel in Nashville just two weeks ago to cancel a binding contract because of intimidation by Muslims was a poignant illustration of the primary message of more than two dozen speakers.
"We are at the stage here of self-imposed Shariah law at the threat of violence," conference Chairman William J. Murray of the Religious Freedom Coalition told a gathering of about 500.
Cornerstone Church was the venue for a speech in May by the controversial Geert Wilders in which he warned Americans not to "make the mistake which Europe made."
"Do not allow Islam to gain a foothold here," Wilders said. "Islam is dangerous. Islam wants to establish a state on earth, ruled by Islamic Shariah law. Islam aims for the submission, whether by persuasion, intimidation or violence, of all non-Muslims, including Christians."
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After yesterday's conference, Cornerstone Church Senior Pastor Maury Davis told WND that churches, of all places, shouldn't be shy about telling the truth in the face of resistance.
"I view Christianity as world-changing – the apostles were men who turned the world upside down," he said. "Everywhere Paul went, there was a riot, they went to prison.
"Truth creates a problem when it encounters the darkness," Davis explained. "And I don't think I heard anything today that wasn't true. There may have been things said in a way I wouldn't have said them. And I may have said things in a way other people wouldn't have said it. That's the neat thing about being an American. We have freedom of speech, and the people who can't handle freedom of speech ought to stay in a country where it is not allowed.
The speakers – who included former Reagan defense official Frank Gaffney and former FBI special agent John Guandolo – emphasized the need for grass-roots action. Fittingly, the energy behind the conference was a movement of conservative activists called the Tennessee Freedom Coalition that helped make the Volunteer State the first in the nation to pass a law to protect citizens' constitutional rights against the infiltration of foreign laws, including Islamic law.
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The group also spearheaded the passage of a law that helps local law enforcement more effectively fight terrorism and another that governs refugee resettlement.
'My issue is with Islam'
The founder and chairman of the coalition, which aims to "educate citizens on the realities of Shariah and stop the growth of radical Islam, is Andy Miller, whose life took a radical turn on 9/11 when he was working on Wall Street.
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The Tennessee native lost more than 100 friends in the attacks, and he immediately wanted to do something about it.
"I thought, literally, I should enroll and become an Army sniper or something," he told WND. "After calming down, I thought the best I could do was learn why they hated us as much as they seemed to."
He went straight to the source and read Islam's guiding texts: the Quran, the hadiths that tell the stories of Islam's prophet Muhammad and the Sunnah, which instructs Muslims on how they should live.
"The answer became clear," he said, "that it was about the ideology, and the fact that it's an all-encompassing ideology that causes them to want to dominate the world."
He's found his life's calling.
"Out of that pain, and having a young family, I decided that daddy's job between now and when I leave this earth is to soften the enemy as much as I can," Miller said.
Telling the truth, he said, has led to death threats, but he emphasizes that he doesn't have an issue with Muslims.
"My issue is with Islam," Miller said. "I feel sorry for most Muslims, because I think that they are caught in a trap. How many 'religions' do you know of that if you leave it, you get a death sentence?"
Miller just returned from a week touring Europe and some of its "no go" zones, where law enforcement has lost control in Muslim communities.
Wilders said in his May speech that Europe is in its predicament because it "has foolishly adopted the concept of cultural relativism, which manifests itself in the ideology of multiculturalism."
Cultural relativism maintains that all cultures are equal, he explained, and "Islam is spreading like wildfire wherever people lack the guts to say that their values are better than the Islamic values."
After his Europe trip, Miller has concluded if "they don't fix what they're doing now, and make what are going to feel like drastic decision, they are going to lose their countries."
Nashville-based nationally syndicated talk-radio host Steve Gill, who was on a panel titled "Fighting Islamist Propaganda in the Media Battle Space," affirmed the critical role of citizen activists like Miller and the Tennessee Freedom Coalition's executive director, Lou Ann Zelenik, and its director, Raymond Baker.
"Tennessee didn't send all of their great heroes to the Alamo. There are still some left," Gill said.
As the Volunteer State and the "buckle of the Bible belt," Miller said in brief remarks to the conference, Tennessee has always responded in time of need.
"We are the beating heart of the faith of this country," he said. "They will not stop, but guess what, neither will we."
Baker told WND that Middle Tennessee "has become Ground Zero" for a little-known Obama administration resettlement program that has brought a massive wave of Muslims with no interest in assimilation.
"Somalis are being flown in with no health checks," he said, "and for five years we're being required to give them free food, clothing, shelter, medical care – anything that they need."
'We knew everything about our enemy'
Tennessee state Rep. Rick Womick, who participated in a panel called "Defending Liberty in Legislatures," is an Boeing 777 airline pilot who has flown five flights with Somali immigrants on board from London to New York City.
A veteran who flew F-15s in the first Gulf War, his life also changed on 9/11. He was co-piloting a flight to Los Angeles when, without knowing what had happened, he was instructed to land immediately at the nearest airport.
Like, Miller, he's become a student of Islam.
"When I flew F15s," he said, "we knew everything about our enemy.
He pointed out that it clearly was Islam that compelled Army Major Nidal Hassan to kill 13 fellow soldiers at Fort Hood in Texas two years ago.
"We cannot have Muslims in our military, because we cannot trust them," Womick said to a standing ovation.
Gaffney, former assistant secretary of defense for international security policy in the Reagan administration, presented evidence of the federal government's infiltration by the Muslim Brotherhood, the movement that formed in 1928 in response to the demise of the Ottoman Turkish Empire that established rule under Islamic law for five centuries
He was part of a team of experts coordinated by his D.C.-based Center for Security Policy that produced a report last year titled "Shariah: The Threat to America."
The report explains that according to Shariah, "every faithful Muslim is obligated to wage jihad – whether violent or not – against those who do not adhere to this comprehensive, totalitarian, political-military code."
"Adherents to Shariah are fundamentally and unalterably opposed to the survival of the Constitution of the United States."
'Speak without fear'
Also among yesterday's speakers were veterans of Islam's civilizational wars in foreign lands.
Wafa Sultan is a former Muslim from Syria who declares, "America is my freedom." Her group Project Oasis offers a forum for Muslims to "speak without fear."
"Shariah in the United States," she said, "is simply unacceptable."
"It is time for the free world to face the reality of Shariah or the reality of Shariah will continue to face us."
She said she's been shocked to find over the past few years that "so many Americans are devoid of common sense and good judgment" with regard to Islam.
"We think, 'If only we are nice to each other, it will be fine,'" she said, "while completely ignoring a minority group that plays by different rules and intends to exploit the U.S. in every way possible."
Justin Akujieze survived the genocide in Biafra in the late 1960s that took 3 million lives. Since then, he said, Muslims who have taken over the states of northern Nigeria have continued to kill Christians, with the clear aim of ultimately eliminating them.
Calling America "the last hope," he said his Igbo people are being systematically destroyed.
"The enemy is patient, they are focused," he said.
Brigitte Gabriel, founder of ACT! for America, closed the conference with a passionate recounting of her Christian family's flight from Lebanon after Hezbollah took over a relatively prosperous land in the 1970s and began killing non-Muslims.
Her "9/11," she said, was a 1975 attack on her home in which she was wounded and moved from one hospital to another for two and a half months.
She asked her father, "Why did they do this to us?"
"Because they consider us infidels," he replied.
When Sept. 11, 2001, came, Gabriel said, "I had to look into my daughter's eyes and had to tell her exactly the same thing my father told me."
She's taking action to warn America and equip citizens to spread the message, she said, because the "radicals I escaped from the Middle East are now here."
"I don't want my daughter to have to say the same thing to their daughters," she said.
Kelly Cook, ACT! for America's national field director, said his group now has 630 chapters worldwide and is aiming for 2,000 chapters and 2 million members.
Cook confronted a local religion reporter, Bob Smietana of The Tennessean newspaper, who gave out his boss Gabriel's personal information on the Internet. Cook noted the information was picked up by the Middle East media organization Al Jazeera and by an al-Qaida website, effectively putting a target on Gabriel.
Smietana acknowledged his presence in the back of the church sanctuary after Cook said, "I have a feeling he's here."
Referring to Russian revolutionary Vladimir Lenin's term for people in invaded lands that helped advance the communist cause, Cook said of Smietana: "The term useful idiot is too kind."
"That is an example of how we confront this terrible threat," Cook said. "And we will not back down to anyone."
Andrew Bostom, author of "The Legacy of Jihad" and the upcoming "Shariah vs. Freedom," also directed remarks to Smietana.
Bostom, an associate professor of medicine at Brown University, said he hopes Smietana is "not impenetrable to the facts."
Bostom pointed out how the Assembly of Muslim Jurists in America, mainstream Islamic scholars who issue interpretations of Islamic law, have sanctioned the killing of Muslims who abandon Islam, condoned female mutilation, made anti-American statements directed at U.S. troops and said Muslims must not work for the FBI.
The jurists have declared openness to the possibility of engaging in offensive jihad in America as soon as Muslims are strong enough to do so, Bostom said.
Terms of surrender
Mark Durie, a theologian, Anglican minister and human rights activist in Australia, was part of a panel on religious persecution under Shariah. He put the recent attacks against Coptic Christians in Egypt in the context of 1,300-year-old terms of surrender with Islam.
If you oppose Islam's law of surrender, Durie said, the jihad restarts, property and life are taken, and women and children are taken as slaves.
"We are adopting the mentality of an abused person," he said of the West. "We are becoming like these surrendered people."
Australian society has a better approach to the Shariah threat than it did five years ago, he observed, as journalists have begun to talk about Islam's ultimate aim, churches have become informed and people have spoken out.
While "God has been helping Australia," however, he said, "here in America, things are getting worse.
"The elites are more frightened now than they were five years ago," he said.
He encouraged the gathering to keep "pressing in," because "truth is on your side."
Paul Diamond, a private lawyer in the United Kingdom and the director of international affairs for the legal action group Christian Concern, said he and his British colleagues are going to begin coordinating their legal efforts with the Tennessee Freedom Coalition.
He urged his American colleagues to engage in debate with "middle America," referring to people such as lapsed Catholics and nonobservant Jews who are not informed "but are scared about where their country is going."
"We can win the debate," he said.
They should be asking, with regard to Islam, he said, why the Democratic Party would want to support a movement that is "homophobic" and anti-Semitic and puts down women.
"You get into that debate," he said, "and reason will prevail."