Posted by: smstrouse | July 21, 2011

A Lotta Flak for Something I Didn’t Even Do – Yet

We were supposed to do it on June 25th. We didn’t – only because of some scheduling problems. But I’ve been getting flak for it ever since.

June 25th was the day that the Interfaith Alliance and Human Rights First sponsored an event called Faith Shared. The purpose was ‘to engage faith leaders on the national and community levels in interfaith events intended to highlight respect among people of different faiths.’  One of the suggestions for participating congregations was to include a rabbi and an imam in the Sunday service, with readings from the Torah, the Gospels, and the Qur’an. So I invited a Jewish and a Muslim friend to come and read from their sacred texts, just as I would read from mine. Our service would still be Christian, as I would expect a service at a synagogue to be Jewish and one at a mosque to be Muslim.

But this simple initiative has caused great consternation in a whole bunch of people, who apparently don’t get that the idea is to create understanding, respect, and peace in our world. I’ve now received a file-full of emails and a couple of voice mails from people I do not know from as far away as Australia.  One writer declares that I should be ashamed of myself and never preach in a Christian church again. 

All this has done is reinforce the reason for Faith Shared in the first place: misconceptions, misunderstandings, mistrust – and a rising tide of anti-Muslim bigotry. The Interfaith Alliance website ((where I guess they found our name) explains it all very clearly – for those who take the time to read it. Our own newsletter explained it as well.

The fact is, if someone called or wrote and had a genuine interest in a conversation about how to respond to other religions while being faithful to one’s own, I’d welcome the dialogue. We need more of that.  Unfortunately what I’ve been getting is judgement.  But that’s OK; we’ll reschedule Faith Shared or something like it for another day. We are firm believers in what theologian Hans Kung said years ago:
“There will be no peace among the nations without peace among the religions. There will be no peace among the religions without dialogue among the religions.” 

As faithful Christians, we will continue to do our small part.


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