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Prayer Groups Gather at Capitol

Updated: 3:25 p.m.

Today is a big day for prayer around the Capitol. A few thousand Muslims — participating in an event planned for 50,000 — gathered in front of the Capitol to worship Allah and to show fellow Americans that not all Muslims are anti-America this afternoon.

“America is not perfect, but I want to tell the truth: It’s one of the best places in the world to live,— the imam said.

He addressed the crowd for almost an hour, using his time to praise freedom of religion in the U.S. and urging fellowship with Christians, Jews and Sikhs. He emphasized the talents of women and talked about President Barack Obama, telling his audience about a group of kids who made shirts that read, “Obama is not a Muslim, but I am and I approved this message.—

Meanwhile, Christians stood across the street yelling into megaphones messages about Jesus being the only way to Heaven and about Islam being a lie. One man wore a black T-shirt with white writing that read, “Homosexuality is sin! Islam is a lie! Abortion is murder! Some issues are just black and white!—

Earlier groups convened to present opposing viewpoints to the group of praying Muslims. At 9:45 a.m., husband-and-wife team Daniel and Kendra Adams launched the group Stop the Islamization of America with a panel discussion in the Rayburn House Office Building. The group says it wants to educate Americans about the threat posed by radical Islam. “All Americans must learn about the doctrine of Islam,— Daniel Adams said.

No Members came to the event, though a staffer from Rep. Zach Wamp’s (R-Tenn.) office helped the group reserve the room. About 30 people attended, including the panelists and reporters, and Daniel Adams said those who were interested could stop by their Congressman’s office afterward to encourage him to support bills that would protect free speech.

The Congressional Muslim Staffers Association held its weekly prayer meeting at 12:30 p.m., according to J. Saleh Williams, a legislative aide who serves as program and outreach coordinator for the group. Williams said the group has been meeting to pray on Fridays during lunch since 1998, usually attracting 80 to 100 Muslim staffers and government workers.

The meeting is open to the public and listed on the Web site of House Chaplain Daniel Coughlin. Williams also organized prayer to be offered during the Congressional Black Caucus’ annual legislative conference this afternoon at the Convention Center.

On Thursday night, conservative Christian leaders including Shirley Dobson and Tony Perkins led prayer for the country on a conference call. Dobson used it as an opportunity to promote the National Day of Prayer, and Perkins emphasized that he thinks Muslims have the right to pray at the Capitol but wonders what they are praying for.