On two separate occasions, John Thomas, the general minister and president of the United Church of Christ, has shared a public venue with Imam Mahdi Bray of the Muslim American Society. (Here is Hugh Fitzgerald’s piece on Bray.)
I met Bray when I was speaking in Boston a year or so ago. He sweet-talked me and the audience during the Question-and-Answer period with a smooth series of empty assertions, including a claim that he had never heard of the Islam that I had sketched out during my talk, which is tantamount to saying he never heard of Osama bin Laden, or Omar Bakri, or Abu Bakar Bashir or all the rest. He also promised me that soon, in the interests of common understanding and mutual good fellowship, he would arrange for me to visit a mosque and engage in friendly dialogue there. But in that, of course, Bray was strictly grandstanding for the benefit of the audience, showing the face of Islam as all sweet reason in the face of the evidence I had presented about jihad and Sharia supremacism. I never heard from Mahdi Bray again, and did not expect to — for I suspect that Mahdi Bray knows that I know what he has said and done in the public sphere.
John Thomas, however, apparently does not. But he should.
In September 2005 he appeared on the same stage with Mahdi Bray at a rally protesting the Iraq war. Details here.
More recently, and more troubling, they co-authored a letter in support of workers rights that appeared in the Hartford Courant.
To the uninformed, this would appear to be nothing more than an interfaith effort to promote economic justice, but those who have paid any attention to Mahdi Bray’s career have reason to wonder if John Thomas and the Christian denomination he leads are being used in an effort to legitimize and mainstream someone who has exhibited an indifference bordering on outright contempt for Jews.
An affidavit available here describes two troubling episodes in which Bray was involved. These events have been widely reported.
“In October, 1998, Bray coordinated and led a Washington rally of 2,000 people, during which he played the tambourine as the crowd repeated, “[L]et’s all go into jihad, and throw stones at the face of the Jews.”
“On December 22, 2000, Bray organized and spoke at a rally outside the White House, at which the emcee and crowd chanted responsively in Arabic, ‘oh Jews, the Army of Muhammad is coming for you!'”
This Dec. 22, 2000 instance is reported in Steven Emerson’s important book, American Jihad. The full quote in the book is “Khaybar, Khaybar oh Jews, the Army of Muhammad is coming for you!”
Khaybar was a city in Arabia of the Banu Nadir — a Jewish tribe. The Muslim Prophet Muhammad attacked and conquered it in 628. The Jews there were massacred, enslaved, or made to pay heavy taxes (jizya) for the privilege of remaining in the area — as I will detail in my book The Truth About Muhammad (coming this fall from Regnery Publishing). How Muhammad treated the Banu Nadir — conquest and subjugation — became a foundation of the dhimmi laws imposed on non-Muslims by Islamic law ever after. To play the tambourine while Khaybar is invoked in a laudatory manner is thus troublesome to say the least.
Just as troubling was another instance in which Bray raised his fist in support of laudatory statements of Hamas and Hezbollah. Details of this event, which took place in 2000 are available here.
Yes, these instances are several years old. Maybe Mahdi Bray doesn’t feel this way anymore. But has he issued any public disavowal or denial of these events? Has John Thomas spoken to Bray about these issues?