WASHINGTON, D.C. (Christian Examiner) -- The controversial group, Council on American-Islamic Relations -- accused by the FBI of having ties to the Hamas terrorist organization, and criticized by American Muslims for its ties to the radical Muslim Brotherhood -- announced Nov. 10, Muslims have been invited to offer prayers in the Washington National Cathedral this Friday, Nov. 14.
In a press release prepared by CAIR, Canon Gina Campbell, the cathedral's liturgical director said "deep relationships come out of prayer," noting these earthly connections transcend "beyond the political or academic."
A "deeper conversation and partnership" is listed as a hopeful outcome. Muslims have been part of other activities on the campus, but this is the first time the Islamic faith has had its own religious service there.
The controversy surrounding the Muslim prayer service extends beyond CAIR's terrorist ties.
Although not an endorsement of any particular denomination, the cathedral was dedicated as a monument to Christ, and it is a national landmark symbolizing America's founding on Christianity.
-- The cornerstone, laid in 1907, includes the inscription, "The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us" (John 1:14), and is a composite of a small stone quarried in Bethlehem inserted into a larger piece of American granite.
-- The chapels are named Bethlehem, Good Shepherd, Resurrection and Joseph of Arimethea as tributes to key elements of the life of Christ.
-- Even the program for the dedication (held in 1910) shows the 10,000 or so who attended the ceremony recited the Apostle's Creed and the Lord's Prayer, and joined in committing the cathedral "to the glory of the blessed Trinity, and in honour of Christ our Lord, the Incarnate Son of God, and to be dedicated under the name and title of the Holy Nativity."
The prayer controversy is the second Muslim dispute to erupt this week.
On Nov. 11, the Montgomery County Board of Education in Maryland decided to drop Christmas, Easter and other religious holidays after Muslim groups demanded equal recognition of the Eid al-Adha -- an Islamic holiday that celebrates Abraham's obedience and willingness to offer to sacrice his son, Isaac. They complained Eid-al-Adha was not getting the same recognition on next year's school calendar as the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur, which both will fall on Sept. 23.