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Is Islam a Religion of Peace? Conference – August 10, 2013

Ave Maria Communications presents:

Is Islam a Religion of Peace?

a Catholic Witness in a Nation Divided Conference

Saturday, August 10, 2013 from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm

4:30 by Mass celebrated by Bishop Earl Boyea

Grand Ballroom in Eastern Michigan University’s Student Center

900 Oakwood Street, Ypsilanti, Michigan 48197 




9:00 am –  Welcome  – Nick Thomm

9:15 am – “The Big Difference” – Al Kresta

9:45 am – “Common and Rocky Ground” – Andrew Bieszad

10:15 am – Break

10:30 am – Debate: Does Islam Support Religious Liberty? – Mustafa Akyol and Richard Thompson

11:45 am – Lunch

12:45 pm – Debate: Is Islam a Religion of Peace? – Robert Spencer and Shadid Lewis

2:30 pm – Break

2:45 pm – Debate: Does Islam Produce Democracy? – Mustafa Akyol and Robert Spencer

3:15 pm – Legal Concerns – Robert Muise

3:30 pm – Personal Testimony – Joseph Shannon

3:45 pm – Closing Remarks – Al Kresta

4:00 pm – Adjournment

4:30 pm – Holy Mass – Most Reverend Earl A. Boyea, Bishop of Lansing

Speaker Bios:


Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch, a program of the David Horowitz Freedom Center, and the author of twelve books, including two New York Times bestsellers, The Truth About Muhammad and The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) (both Regnery). His latest books are Did Muhammad Exist? An Inquiry Into Islam’s Obscure Origins (ISI) and Not Peace But A Sword: The Great Chasm Between Christianity and Islam (Catholic Answers). Spencer has led seminars on Islam and jihad for the United States Central Command, United States Army Command and General Staff College, the U.S. Army’s Asymmetric Warfare Group, the FBI, the Joint Terrorism Task Force, and the U.S. intelligence community.


andrew_bieszadAndrew Bieszad is the author of Lions of the Faith: Saints, Blesseds, and Heroes of the Catholic Faith in the Struggle with Islam. He received his Master’s Degree in Islamic Studies from Hartford Seminary in 2010, after nearly being expelled for disagreeing with Islamic theological teachings in defense of his Catholic Faith. He has lectured and written about Islam and Christian-Muslim relations since 2007, including about his experiences as a Catholic Graduate student in Islamic Studies. He is currently putting together a non-profit organization, The Occidental Forum, which will focus on discussing trends and issues affecting Western society. Since 2007, Bieszad has written articles and lectured on topics in and related to Islamic Studies and Catholic-Muslim relations. His work has been published in National Review Magazine’s “Academic Questions” journal, the New Oxford Review, and other publications. He has also been sought as a radio commentator on issues surrounding Catholic-Muslim relations and Islamic theology.


mustafa_akyolMustafa Akyol is a columnist for two Turkish newspapers, Hürriyet Daily News and Star. His articles have also appeared in Foreign Affairs, Newsweek, New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, The Guardian and many other publications. He studied political science and history at the Boğaziçi University in Istanbul, where he still lives. His book, Islam without Extremes: A Muslim Case for Liberty, an argument for “Muslim liberalism,” was published by W.W. Norton in July 2011. The book was praised by Financial Times as “A forthright and elegant Muslim defense of freedom.”


dick thompsonRichard Thompson is the President and Chief Counsel of the Thomas More Law Center. Thompson spent 24 years of his professional career at the executive level of law enforcement. As Michigan’s elected Oakland County, Prosecuting Attorney for eight years, Thompson directed a staff of 180 including 102 lawyers, and administered an annual budget of 12 million dollars. His accomplishments included: successfully defending the constitutionality of Michigan’s Mandatory Life Law for major drug dealers in the United States Supreme Court, creating the state’s first Child Sexual Assault Crimes Unit, and developing one of the nation’s toughest no plea bargaining policies–which achieved a 98 percent conviction rate. Thompson gained national prominence as Prosecuting Attorney for his uncompromising stand against Jack Kevorkian, despite public opinion in Michigan which overwhelmingly supported “Dr. Death” and Physician Assisted Suicide. At the Thomas More Law Center, Richard Thompson directs a highly professional and aggressive team of lawyers dedicated to the defense and promotion of the religious liberty of Christians, time-honored family values, the sanctity of human life, a strong national defense, and an independent and sovereign United States of America.



Shadid Lewis is U.S.A. Regional Director of the Muslim Debate Initiative (MDI). He is the former president of The Islamic Research and Propagation Center in Comparative Religious Studies. He has studied and completed courses in Sciences of Quran, Islamic Family Law, and Studies of Understanding Hadith at the American Open Islamic University of Fairfax, Virginia.




robert muiseRobert J. Muise is Co-Founder and Senior Counsel at the American Freedom Law Center. An expert in constitutional law, the last thirteen years of his law practice have been dedicated to defending religious liberties, the freedom of speech, and the right to life in state and federal trial and appellate courts across the country. More recently, Mr. Muise has been involved in numerous cases defending American freedoms against the growing threat of Sharia law. He was named the “Appellate Lawyer of the Week” by the National Law Journal on August 10, 2011. Federal Judge Gerald Rosen, Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, has described Muise as “one of the leading attorneys in the country in the area of protecting religious freedom and speech.”


Joe ShannonJoseph Shannon is an instructor at Fordson High School in Dearborn, Michigan – a unique school at which 90% of students have a Middle Eastern background, and most of those students identify themselves as Muslim. Joe teaches AP (Advanced Placement) European/World History. Shannon describes himself as “born to an Irish Catholic, blue-collar family in the shadow of Detroit (Redford Township), and a product of parochial Catholic school system. He is a child of the ‘60s/’70s counter-culture and Jesus movements, one-time pastor of an evangelical charismatic church (Shalom Ministry). He has been married and divorced, and his marriage was annulled. Joe has three adult children and is a member of Christ The King Parish in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

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