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Saturday, November 5, 2011

TheCall Detroit and the Muslim Community’s Samuel Rodriguez Problem

Over a month ago I wrote a letter to Samuel Rodriguez that I can only assume will never be answered. In that letter I proposed to him the perfect way to clear up any confusion about the “resignation” from Oak Initiative that I had reported him having made: he could clearly and unequivocally condemn the Oak Initiative’s ongoing demonization of Muslims in connection with their cosponsorship of CallDetroit. I posed this to Rodriguez because Ricky Joyner, the president of the Oak Initiative, was on the record saying that Samuel resigned from Oak not because of disagreement with the Oak Initiative but in order to spend more time editing the Spanish language edition of Charisma magazine. Besides Ricky’s statement, further evidence of Samuel’s ongoing support of the Oak Initiative’s goals was demonstrated by these four facts:
1. The other sponsor with Oak Initiative of CallDetroit, Lou Engle’s organization TheCall, remained a sponsor of Rodriguez’s NHCLC organization.
2. All of Samuel’s videos in support of Oak Initiative remained up at a variety of Ricky Joyner’s sites.
3.  The Oak Initiative’s most well-known board member, Cindy Jacobs, remained a part of Rodriguez’s NHCLC leadership team.
4. Video and audio evidence of Samuel’s own participation in Muslim bigotry had emerged.

Since I sent that letter giving those reasons for why I doubted the sincerity of Samuel’s resignation, as well as the sincerity of his pledge to me that he had nothing to do with the New Apostolic Reformation, more reasons have emerged:
1. Samuel’s brazen participation in Cindy Jacobs’ New Apostolic Reformation internet event “Reformation Day”.  At this event, which featured in addition to Rodriguez and lead NAR apostle Jacobs, C. Peter Wagner himself and Wagner’s right hand man Chuck Pierce, Rodriguez went so far as to call Cindy Jacobs affectionately “Mama Cindy” and embrace the unique theology of the event embodied at its announcement page: "We really believe that recent weather reports of hurricanes, tsunamis, and earthquakes are signs that the earth is groaning for the revelation of the sons of God."
2. Samuel’s failure to heed the call of Faith and Public Life to publicly denounce the anti-Muslim agenda of the Oak Initiative.
3. Samuel’s refusal to speak out about the CallDetroit’s commitment to Oak Initiative and its agenda of anti-Muslim bigotry.

The third point in particular is urgent. With CallDetroit’s 11-11-11 event less than a week away the sizable Muslim community of Detroit is reacting with understandable alarm to those aspects of the rally that have specifically demonized and provoked their community. As was all too predictable, CallDetroit and the Oak Initiative are now trying to deny the all-too-public record of their anti-Muslim bigotry and agenda and portray the Muslim community as paranoid. Into this swamp of lies and extremism, one would expect that if Samuel Rodriguez really meant what he said to me about his opposition to anti-Muslim extremism being the reason for his resignation from the Oak Initiative, then he would seize this moment to explain to the Detroit area media and religious communities that Muslims have every reason to be offended by the Oak Initiative’s agenda in general and its participation in the CallDetroit specifically. But instead of hearing Rodriguez’s clear voice of solidarity with the Muslim community in the face of CallDetroit’s lies and misinformation, we see Rodriguez’s website highlighting its partnership with TheCall and linking NHCLC members to CallDetroit registration.  

What we see, in other words, is that Samuel Rodriguez has not followed through on his commitment to oppose anti-Muslim extremism and remains what he was the day I first confronted him: a man who wraps himself in the language of religious tolerance at one moment and the language of religious intolerance at another. Those who continue to elevate this man are complicit in his hypocrisy and are likely to join the inevitable conservative Christian backlash against Detroit’s Muslims for viewing the Oak Initiative exactly the way the religiously tolerant version of Samuel Rodriguez once did himself.

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