While there are examples of isolated cases of Muslim individuals who have allegedly committed crimes (Nidal Malik Hasan, the psychiatrist facing charges of killing 13 people at Fort Hood in 2009), they are individual bad apples, similar to Eric Rudolph, cited above. Our national data set clearly shows that no pattern of "radicalization" exists with religiosity and mosque attendance.
Despite the popularized idea that Muslims are radicalized around the country in mosques, we find that, overwhelmingly, mosques help Muslims integrate into U.S. society, and in fact have a very productive role in bridging the differences between Muslims and non-Muslims in the United States.
This is a finding in social science that is consistent with decades of research on other religious groups such as Jews, Protestants and Catholics where church attendance and religiosity has been proven to result in higher civic engagement and support for core values of the American political system.
American mosques are institutions that should be encouraged to function as centers of social and political integration in America.
Editor's Note: CNN's Soledad O'Brien chronicles the dramatic fight over the construction of a mosque in the heart of the Bible belt. "Unwelcome: The Muslims Next Door", airs Sunday, March 27 at 8 p.m. E.T.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Karam Dana and Matt Barreto.
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