We in Connecticut had our own little GOP Islamo-fearmongering episode the other day, when Fifth District Congressman-wannabe Mark Greenberg called Islam "a cult in many respects." This being Connecticut, Greenberg began backing off almost immediately, and was roundly criticized for his remarks by all three of his opponents in the Republican primary.
The question is to what extent will 2012 be repeat of 2010, when Republican candidates around the country succeeded in using anti-mosque protests and anti-"sharia law" legislation as wedge issues against their Democratic opponents. My guess is not so much. Michele Bachmann's intial foray has been slapped down by none other than John McCain and Ed Rollins, and there are other indications that there will be nothing like the "9/11 mosque"-driven politics of two years ago.
Among the more notable is a letter from the Becket Fund on behalf of the building of that mosque in Murfreesboro, TN that has been the object of anti-Muslim protests and legal action. It is admirable as much as anything for its criticism of the anti-shariah crusade, and is signed by a wide array of supporters of religious liberty, including those who are rarely on Becket's side in First Amendment litigation such as the ACLU and members of Americans United for Separation of Church and State.
To be sure, there are some names missing that should have been there. While the Jewish community is well represented overall, it would have been nice to see the Orthodox on the list. Then there's Bill Donohue of the Catholic League, whose devotionals on behalf of religious liberty seems to be limited to the USCCB campaign against the contraception mandate. Most conspicuous by his absence, however, is Richard Land, longtime head of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission.
Last year, Land backed out of an interfaith coalition that had submitted an amicus brief on behalf of the Murfreesboro mosque on the grounds that while he himself supported the Muslims' right to worship, engaging in legal activity on its behalf was a bridge too far for his fellow Southern Baptists. Now, it seems, merely signing a letter is more than Land can manage. There are a lot of Southern Baptists in Tennessee. It might actually have done some good if their denomination had stood up and been counted among the friends of religious liberty.