WASHINGTON -- July 4th may seem like an odd date for a group named by the U.S. government in a terror financing case to promote its cause.
But that's exactly what occurred this weekend in Washington, D.C., as the controversial Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) held its annual conference.
Despite documented ties to radical Islamists, ISNA leaders are looking to prove that their group is a mainstream, patriotic Muslim-American organization.
They reeled in a big fish this weekend to help deliver that message: evangelical pastor Rick Warren.
Warren -- who is pastor of the Saddleback megachurch in California -- served as keynote speaker at the ISNA event, which drew an estimated 8,000 people to the Washington Convention Center.
"As an evangelical pastor, my deepest faith is in Jesus Christ," said Warren. "But you also need to know that I am not just committed to what is called the good news, but I am committed to the common good."
Warren said that he is not interested in more dialogue but rather an increase in interfaith projects between Muslims and Christians that promote global peace and tolerance.
"As the two largest faiths on this planet, Muslims and Christians -- we must lead in this," he said. "With over 1 billion Muslims and over 2 billion Christians, together, as half the world, we have to do something."
Warren suggested that Muslims and Christians could work together to fight religious stereotyping, preserve freedom of religion and freedom of speech, and help restore civility to the public discourse.
But some have questioned whether an ISNA event was the right place for Warren to make that case.
In 2007, the U.S. government named ISNA as an unindicted co-conspirator in the largest terrorism financing trial in American history.
Evidence in that trial showed that ISNA gave money to an organization that provided funds to the terror group Hamas.
Members of that organization, the Holy Land Foundation, were sentenced to lengthy prison terms in May of this year.
The trial also revealed that ISNA is closely tied to the Muslim Brotherhood. The Brotherhood -- founded in Egypt -- seeks to establish Islamic sharia law worldwide.
Rick Warren's team directed CBN News to a letter by the pastor saying that he does "everything he can to build relationships of love and respect and trust with unbelievers."
The letter cited the apostle Paul as an example. It did not mention ISNA's radical associations or legal troubles.