Mega-Mosques Rising

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Struggling to find space for their growing congregations, Muslim religious leaders in the United States are looking to popular urban and suburban Christian mega-churches for inspiration. The Religion News Service (July 22, 2008) reports that Islamic organizations have begun operating multiple sites, joining dispersed congregations, and offering diverse programming including gymnasiums and Boy Scout training as part of a business model pioneered by Christian mega-churches. Northern Virginia’s All Dulles Area Muslim Society, for example, has attracted some 5,000 families worshiping in seven different branches by preaching a progressive, antiterrorism message that celebrates freedom and economic opportunity. The society also emphasizes interfaith dialogue, and space for the organization’s newest mosque is subleased from Beth Chaverim Reform Congregation, a Jewish organization. Beth Chaverim’s president, Marshall Medoff, told the Religion News Service, “If they weren’t Muslim, they’d look like one of the biggest Catholic churches you’d ever seen.”