Mosques are a positive force in America

Mosques are a positive force in America
By Karam Dana and Matt A. Barreto, Special to CNN
March 9, 2011
(CNN) -- In 2004, Rep. Peter King stated that 80% to 85% of mosques in America were controlled by Islamic fundamentalists and amounted to "an enemy living amongst us." In 2007 he said, "Unfortunately we have too many mosques in this country" and called for FBI surveillance and infiltration of mosques because that's where terrorists were being "homegrown."

Just a month ago he repeated the claim that over 80% of mosques are controlled by radical imams. Now, he is holding a congressional hearing to expose the radical elements of Islam in America.

In direct contrast to his claims, a study we conducted -- the Muslim American Public Opinion Survey (MAPOS) -- found that mosques and religiosity are actually associated with high levels of civic engagement and support for the American political system. Our study interviewed 1,410 American Muslims across the nation and asked questions about the importance of religion, civic and political participation in the United States.

Throughout the history of America a special relationship has existed between religious institutions and social and political integration. While specific religion was kept at arms length from government sponsorship, churches and religion played an important role in the political development of America. As different ethnic groups came to America, churches and religiosity have often served as a source of community, and ultimately integration into American life.

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