The student leader of a soon-to-be established student group calling itself the “Interfaith Network UTK” says the organization is needed at the University of Tennessee because “there’s been a lot of anti-Muslim rhetoric (and) Christian ideological privilege on campus.”
According to leaders of the new group, two campus events this year sparked the idea of creating an interfaith group that would focus on service projects to demonstrate shared “core values” and is open to both those who hold specific religious beliefs and those who do not.
In February, Eboo Patel, founder of the national Interfaith Youth Core lectured about his organization and how religion can be used to build bridges in a diverse community. Days later, Matthew Heimbach, leader of the Traditionalist Worker Party which ascribes to while nationalist ideology, launched his campus speech tour at UTK.
During the campus demonstration organized by UT Knoxville’s Progressive Student Alliance to protest the administration’s decision allowing Matthew Heimbach to speak at the university, Drost Kokoye, a founding and current board member of the American Muslim Advisory Council (AMAC), Tennessee’s most prominent Muslim organization, added a police shout-down to the protest.
Kokoye’s tweet described the police assigned to protect the protestors as the “KKKPD.”
In contrast to the protest against Heimbach, Patel’s lecture was received well by students who are otherwise willing to shut down speech they either don’t like or with which they don’t agree.
Patel was appointed to President Barack Obama’s inaugural Advisory Council on Faith-Based Neighborhood Partnerships. In 2005, he collaborated in co-authoring a publication titled Letters from Young Activists, Todays Rebels Speak Out. The book’s Acknowledgments page, recognizes Bill Ayers personally for the “guidance” and “encouragement” he provided and the Preface was written by Ayers’ wife, Weather Underground co-founder Bernardine Dohrn.
Weather Underground radicals did not shy away from using violence and rioting in advancing their agenda.
The back cover of Patel’s book featured an endorsement from the convicted cop-killer and former Black Panther Party member Mumia Abu-Jamal.
Patel serves on the advisory board of the Pillars Fund with Linda Sarsour, an Obama “Champion of Change” and CAIR “American Muslim of the Year,” who is well known for her overt hatred of Israel and all things Jewish. The Pillars Fund partners with George Soros’ Open Society Foundations.
According to the UT Daily Beacon’s report, the newly formed Interfaith Network UTK has three identified goals – communication, service and legislation.
According to responses received by The Star from Tara Bain, Director of the UTK Hillel, the campus Jewish organization, not all the information in the Beacon’s article regarding the Hillel organization is accurate. Contrary to the position of the Interfaith Networks student leaders, the Hillel organization has a “solid, functional relationship with UT administration” and acquiring a house on campus is in the works although the students have not lacked for gathering space both on and off campus.