I am happy to hear that the Roman Catholic Diocese of Worcester, Massachusetts, rescinded an invitation to Robert Spencer, a writer whose views on Muslims and Islam are eerily similar to those of Nazis towards Jews and Judaism.
After a further review of Spencer’s background, a spokesman for the diocese, Raymond Delisle, said in a statement issued to the Boston Globe that Spencer’s presence was “seen as harmful to Catholic-Islamic relations both locally and nationally.” The Roman Catholic Diocese of Worcester has longstanding good relations with Muslims in Massachusetts, according to Dr. Abdul Cader Asmal, cochairman of communications for the Islamic Council of New England, who called the Diocese’s decision against Spencer “very reassuring.”
By rescinding the invitation to Spencer, the Diocese of Worcester is showing its preference and appreciation for a genuine interfaith dialogue with Muslims and not a strange and misinformed “dialogue” which would have inevitably manifested in Spencer’s speech. Rescinding Spencer’s invitation is also a triumph for those who are pushing for a more responsible type of free speech and not a careless type of free speech, like Spencer’s, which only spreads misinformation.
If the Diocese is interested in having a Catholic man speak to Catholic men about Muslims and Islam, I would be happy to accept that invitation. Unlike Spencer, I have conducted extensive fieldwork in the homes, places of worship, and schools of Muslims across the U.S. I have been trained in sociology by Professor Akbar Ahmed, a world-renowned scholar who is highly respected by people of all religious backgrounds. I am also a native of Needham, which isn’t too far from Worcester.