About this blog: Discussing religion, spirituality and values. Amy Umble is the religion reporter for The Free Lance-Star.
Building bridges with Qurans
Today, we ran a story about the Rev. Patrick Mahoney’s plans to rescue the Qurans slated for fire in Gainesville, Fla.
While talking with Mahoney, he answered a few points which have come up in my reporting in the past week or so.
First, after running a story about an interfaith prayer service on Sept. 11, some people called to say that only “liberal Christians” would show up at such an event, and that a true believer would not pray with people who do not accept Christ. Mahoney said that in seven years of outreach to the Muslim community, he’s heard some of the same comments. He said:
Respecting is not compromising your own values as a Christian. Nowhere, in any of these gatherings have I been forced to not pray how I feel. It is interesting that I can go to the former palace of Saddam Hussein, pray with the prime minister of Iraq in Jesus’ name, but here in my hometown, in a city council meeting I can’t pray in Jesus’ name. We are not compromising our Christian faith. I would hope and pray, as an evangelical, that every person would come to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ but I follow the model of Jesus Christ who would build on relationships, not on hatred or anger.
He also said that many Christians are confusing the role of the military and the religious community:
I can’t overstate it, you cannot confuse it and mix the military and political concerns of dealing with jihadists and the Christian concerns of reaching out to Muslims. It is not the same. It is not apples to apples.
The outreach will not be simple, Mahoney said. There are many intricate details, and building bridges between faiths is tricky work. The complexity might be why many Christians don’t bother, he said.
I think fear and not understanding are the greatest hurdles to overcome and because of that, so many Christians don’t reach out. So many Christians are just afraid, so what we’re trying to do is get these discussions and dialogues where people can talk. Because there are so many myths and misconceptions that just aren’t true.