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Mo-Ranch proceeds with Islamic youth event

HUNT, TEXAS — A decision by the Mo-Ranch Conference Center in Texas to allow an Islamic group to hold a retreat last month for Muslim teenagers drew a storm of criticism from some local Christians.

The Islamic Society of North America organized an annual retreat for about 100 teenagers from the Muslim Youth of North America at Mo-Ranch from Dec. 19 to 25. But a group called the Hill Country Oak Initiative protested the conference, with organizers saying they are concerned that the Islamic Society could have terrorist links.

Supporters of the Hill Country group inundated Mo-Ranch with e-mails and phone calls. In a statement issued by the conference center, David Jordan, Mo-Ranch’s president, said that Mo-Ranch is showing “Christian hospitality” by hosting the conference. “In so doing, Mo-Ranch is being neither un-Christian nor unpatriotic as some recent phone calls and e-mails have alleged.”

The statement describes the Islamic Society of North America as a prominent Muslim organization that has been involved in interfaith dialogue with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and other religious groups. Last summer, for example, the society’s director of communications and community outreach, Mohamed Elsanousi, spoke at the PC(USA)’s General Assembly regarding a paper on Christian-Jewish relations.