I attended the Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast, as I do every year, with an eagerness to join with others in and around our city to recognize God’s work in our lives.

Marcie I. Gragg represents District 1 in Independence.


I attended the Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast, as I do every year, with an eagerness to join with others in and around our city to recognize God’s work in our lives.

Keynote speaker Kamal Saleem, a Christian convert who was raised as a radical Muslim, spoke passionately of his conversion experience and his transformation from terrorist to Christian disciple. I was aware of Jim Everett’s and others’ criticism over the choice of speaker. Much of that criticism was based upon “Googled” information and hearsay. I choose to judge a person’s character on more reliable evidence and went to the breakfast with an open mind and heart. I wanted to hear his words and judge them for myself. After hearing Saleem’s remarks, this is what I heard him clearly say:

1. Radical Muslims comprise a small percentage of the Islam faith, perhaps 28 percent.

2. Saleem was raised to seek to fulfill the literal message of the holy scriptures of Islam, including the most radical principles of jihad.

3. For Saleem, this meant believing whole-heartedly in the radical anti-Christian principles that have come to define our understanding of Islamic terrorists, such as those who attacked the United States on Sept. 11, 2001.

4. Saleem had a direct encounter with the love of Christians who cared for him after a car accident nearly killed him. It was this Christian love and example of right living and compassion that led to his conversion experience.

5. There is a very real and present threat from radical Muslims against America, as evidenced by 9-11 and the necessity for military actions in the Middle East.

6. Saleem stated very clearly that the vast majority of Muslims are wonderful people, moderate in their views and that we should “love them into Christianity.” He passionately called upon us to “fight” for our freedoms by loving our enemies and praying for them. His use of biblical support for this position was accurate, citing Christ’s teachings to “love your enemies” (Matthew 5: 43-45).

I heard not one statement by Saleem that was prejudicial toward the majority of the Muslim faith. His is the story of a man who was raised as a radical. He clearly distinguished that it is the radicals who pose the threat to Americans and Christians worldwide. As such, we are foolish to ignore that clear and present danger. We just celebrated Veterans Day and recognized those who have fought to protect our freedoms, among them the freedom to assemble and to express our beliefs openly and without fear of retribution by our government.

Thank you, mayor and Prayer Breakfast Committee, for providing a very informative and thought-provoking speaker. Saleem’s Christian journey is a profound example of the foundation of Christ’s message to us: God loves us all and seeks to forgive and redeem us through our repentance and acceptance of Him. Saleem’s story is about the power of God’s love and redemption.

I am disappointed in The Examiner for publishing articles and opinions that are based upon Internet rumor and innuendo. In my opinion, those articles do far more harm than Saleem is purported to have done.