Pastor Dennis Campbell's anti-Islam newspaper ad

Ever wonder where some folks get their ideas about Islam? Some of them read what Pastor Dennis Campbell of Granite City Baptist Church-Academy has to say in this St. Cloud Times newspaper ad:

"How do Moslems seek to take control of a nation?" The ad asks. "Moslems seek to influence a nation by immigration, reproduction, education, the government, illegal drugs, and by supporting the gay agenda."

"What happens when Moslems take over a nation? They will destroy the constitution and force the Moslem religion on the society, take freedom of religion away, and they will persecute all other religions."

Lori Saroya, president of the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American Muslim Relations, told us she found the pastor's ad "disturbing," especially given her group's cultural bridge-building efforts in the area after bigots reared their heads.

In December, cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammed in sexually explicit ways were posted on utility poles in St. Cloud. James Scott Miller recently appeared in court on a felony charge of making terroristic threats on Craigslist in response to an advertisement for a Somali cultural event to be held at St. Cloud State.

CAIR has also asked the U.S. Department of Education to look into reports of increasing tension between non-Muslims and Muslims in St. Cloud and Owatonna schools.

Among the complaints: A "I hate the Somalians at Tech High" Facebook page, bacon being shoved in the faces of Muslims as a provocation by students who know Islam forbids the eating on pork, and an inflammatory essay about Somali Muslims posted by a student on an English class blog.

The Granite City church ad is different, though, Saroya said. "This isn't some random thing. This man is a pastor. He's the leader of a church."

As a counterweight, CAIR MN took out its own ad in the paper. And Saroya said she's been heartened by an outpouring of support in St. Cloud in the wake of the the pastor's attack, especially from the Minnesota Council of Churches.

MCC's Gail Anderson penned an op-ed in the St. Cloud Times this past weekend in which she told readers that Muslims "have no desire to destroy this country."

Minnesota Council of Churches represents nearly 1 million Christians in the state. At MCC we strive to live out the Christian mandate to "welcome the stranger" from Matthew 25. Part of that work involves bringing Muslims and non-Muslims together so that they can get to know each other as neighbors.

What I have learned during the past four years of doing this work is that Muslims in the community want to work at their jobs, raise their children, buy homes and get involved in their community just like other Minnesotans.

Campbell has been pastor at Granite City Baptist Church since 1976, according to the church's Web site.

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