In his meeting with Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari last Friday, the Archbishop expressed particular concern over attacks in Gojra in August, in which eight Christians were killed. The violence was sparked by allegations that Christians had desecrated a copy of the Koran, a crime punishable by death under Pakistan’s blasphemy laws.
Unsettled ChristianityOne blog to rule them all, One blog to find them, One blog to bring them all and in the darkness bind them.
The alleged suicide of a young Pakistani Christian man who was being held in jail sparked protests Wednesday as dozens of mourners clashed with police at his funeral.
Less than a day after Fanish Masih was found dead in his cell in Sialkot, a town in Punjab province, some 700 people gathered for the 19-year-old’s funeral on Wednesday.
More recently, Christian Reformed World Relief Committee (CRWRC) and Baptist Global Response (BGR) worked with their local partners to distribute emergency care items among displaced Muslims in Malakand Division. It would be better if, instead of burning their house, we learn the lesson of service from them, and build a better Pakistan for all. This will be the real contribution by us.
Fellow-Blogger Doug has posted this, and frankly, I feel like it is worth space here as well. He says:
“I don’t normally include these sort of posts, but it seems to me that this petition for reform of the blasphemy law in Pakistan is well worth supporting. Here is what you are being asked to sign.”
I am no fan of Rick Warren, but does he have a point?
“Some problems are so big you have to team tackle them,” evangelical megachurch pastor Rick Warren addressed the annual convention of the Islamic Society of North America.
Warren said Muslims and Christians should be partners in working to end what he calls “the five global giants” of war, poverty, corruption, disease and illiteracy.
“It’s easier to be an extremist of any kind because then you only have one group of people mad at you,” he said. “But if you actually try to build relationships — like invite an evangelical pastor to your gathering — you’ll get criticized for it. So will I.”
In his speech, Warren also urged Muslims and Christians to speak out against stereotyping of any group and to respect each other even while disagreeing. Addressing Muslims who “have been in America for many generations now,” he urged them to help “the newcomers learn what it means to be American.” (read the rest here.)
Can we work together across religious and theological lines (remember even among those claiming the Christian religion, there is discord and hatred) on projects which touch us all?
A British prison has decided not to include a crucifix in the décor of its new chapel for fear of offending Muslim inmates.
The ‘multi-faith space’ at HMP Lewes is divided in two sections, according to the Daily Mail. One half-features heated footbaths for Muslim worshipers; the other side, dedicated to Christian prayer, features a removable altar and a plain wooden cross – also removable.
Plans to include the traditional Christian crucifix were erased from the chapel’s blueprints on the advice of a Muslim imam, the Daily Mail reported.
“We see this as a vastly improved facility and very much welcome the fact that the prison has an imam.” Amanda Hamblin, chair of the prison’s Independent Monitoring Board told the Mail.”
A source from the prison disagreed, reportedly telling the Mail, “It’s just the normal PC brigade poking its nose in when it isn’t needed.”
I didn’t know Lutherans could be this ‘intolerant’… Seriously, though, I have seen a growing number of these bumper stickers around Charleston (WV) lately. Believe it or not, we have a large community involved in the Council of Churches here in the big city of Charleston, WV, which feeds the idea that Christianity is nothing special. As a matter of fact, the Executive Director would rather quote from The Qu’ran than from the bible.
A few days ago I was stopped behind a car at a red light. The car had a rather unique bumper sticker. I could see four religious symbols on it. Each stood for four different world religions. While waiting at the light, I tried to figure out just what the bumper sticker was attempting to say with the way the symbols were arranged. Then it came to me. They were arranged in such a way, that if you looked just right, you saw the word ‘Coexist.’ I have to admit, it was pretty ingenious.
We live in a woed with multitude of religions. Often in some cases these religions don’t get along with each other. History has even shown us that adherents of the various religions have been known to war against each other, or persecute each other.
So, in one sense, I can say that I agree with that bumper sticker. In a world filled with suspicion and violence, it is important for the various world religions to learn to ‘coexist’ with each other. Religious violence and persecution are never acceptable.
However, coexistence can never mean treating all religions as equally true. To do this ultimately does an injustice to these religions. Take Christianity for instance. I am a Christian. In particular, I am a Christian pastor whose life is dedicated to proclaiming a specific message: the message about Jesus. Jesus himself states, “I am the way, the truth, and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me.” His early followers knew exactly what he was implying. A few years later the Apostle Peter stated the following about Jesus: “And there is salvation in no other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” And, as far as truth goes, the Apostle Paul stated that “truth is in Jesus.”
So, if the bumper sticker means that the various religions should live peaceably alongside each other, then I whole heartedly agree. No violence should ever be done in the name of religion. No person should ever be forced to embrace a specific religion. No one should ever be treated as a lesser person because of what he or she believes.
If, however, the bumper sticker means that all religions lead to God, and that each religion should admit this, then I could not disagree more. Christianity has always claimed Jesus to be God’s one way of dealing with the salvation of the world, because it is Jesus who has dealt with the world’s problem of sin. Christianity has always proclaimed that God has come among us in the person of Jesus and that in Jesus he has taken the sin of the world upon himself. Christianity has always proclaimed that in Jesus the sin of the entire world has been taken away through his death on the cross. In addition it has proclaimed that this Jesus truly rose from the dead with the guarantee that all who trust in his forgiveness have both forgiveness and eternal life. This is the message the Christian Church has shared with the world from its beginning. At its best Christianity doesn’t force the world to believe its message, but simply shares the message of Christ with the world.
I’m willing to coexist peacefully and lovingly with people from all religions and all walks of life. Yet, as a Christian, and as a pastor, I must continue to proclaim the truth of Jesus as God’s one, only, and more than sufficient answer to the world’s problem of sin.
Pastor Douglas Morton is pastor of St. John’s Lutheran Church, Marengo. His email is email@example.com.
ROME — In comments on Sunday that could have broad implications in a period of intense religious conflict, Pope Benedict XVI cast doubt on the possibility of interfaith dialogue but called for more discussion of the practical consequences of religious differences.
The pope’s comments came in a letter he wrote to Marcello Pera, an Italian center-right politician and scholar whose forthcoming book, “Why We Must Call Ourselves Christian,” argues that Europe should stay true to its Christian roots. A central theme of Benedict’s papacy has been to focus attention on the Christian roots of an increasingly secular Europe.
In quotations from the letter that appeared on Sunday in Corriere della Sera, Italy’s leading daily newspaper, the pope said the book “explained with great clarity” that “an interreligious dialogue in the strict sense of the word is not possible.” In theological terms, added the pope, “a true dialogue is not possible without putting one’s faith in parentheses.”
But Benedict added that “intercultural dialogue which deepens the cultural consequences of basic religious ideas” was important. He called for confronting “in a public forum the cultural consequences of basic religious decisions.”
The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said the pope’s comments seemed intended to draw interest to Mr. Pera’s book, not to cast doubt on the Vatican’s many continuing interreligious dialogues.
“He has a papacy known for religious dialogue; he went to a mosque, he’s been to synagogues,” Father Lombardi said. “This means that he thinks we can meet and talk to the others and have a positive relationship.”
To some scholars, the pope’s remarks seemed aimed at pushing more theoretical interreligious conversations into the practical realm.
“He’s trying to get the Catholic-Islamic dialogue out of the clouds of theory and down to brass tacks: how can we know the truth about how we ought to live together justly, despite basic creedal differences?” said George Weigel, a Catholic scholar and biographer of Pope John Paul II.
This month, the Vatican held a conference with Muslim religious leaders and scholars aimed at improving ties. The conference participants agreed to condemn terrorism and protect religious freedom, but they did not address issues of conversion and of the rights of Christians in majority Muslim countries to worship.
The church is also engaged in dialogue with Muslims organized by the king of Saudi Arabia, a country where non-Muslims are forbidden from worshiping in public.
By RACHEL DONADIO
Rick Warren, Interfaith Activist
Rick Warren is our new Billy Graham – at the center of not only his own Christian tradition, but of American civil religion as well. Churches follows his direction (most recently into Rwanda), and political candidates seek his blessing (Exhibit A: The Saddleback Forum).
There has been a lot of talk about the risks that Warren has taken – inviting the pro-choice Obama to address a decidedly pro-life gathering on the topic of AIDS, for example.
Another risk he is taking – more subtle, perhaps, but equally profound – is around religious diversity.
Last week at the Clinton Global Initiative, Warren was asked how “the church” could help to solve poverty. His response was to rattle off the numbers of Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims and Christians in the world – in that order – and make a plea that the public and private sectors take seriously “the faith sector as the third leg of the stool of successful development”.
Warren consistently used the language of a religious pluralist. He spoke of “mosques, temples and churches” as central to the life of villages in the developing world. He underscored the fact that there are huge numbers of people of faith in the world, and huge numbers of houses of worship in places where clinics, banks and schools don’t exist. Those people of faith can be trained to be the arms and legs of any development plan, and those houses of worship can double as clinics, banks and schools.
This is a big deal, because it signals an important turn in the American Evangelical tradition – from viewing people of other faiths primarily as lost souls requiring conversion to viewing them as partners in the plan to make earth more humane and just. “Progressive Evangelicals” like Jim Wallis, Brian McLaren and Tony Campolo (read an interview here with Campolo on interfaith cooperation), have long been involved in interfaith efforts, but the mainline of that tradition has always been more wary. That could be changing.
I caught up with Warren after the panel and asked him directly how he thought about religious diversity. He talked to me about his friendship with his Muslim neighbor, and about how excited he was to speak at the upcoming MPAC conference in December. He was keenly aware of the important role that Muslims played in helping victims during the genocide in Rwanda, and he was engaging that community in his current efforts in that country.
That approach is American pragmatism at its best: a visionary leader engaging all possible partners in his plan to transform earth.
When I asked Warren to name something that he admired about Muslims, he answered without hesitation: “you people are not afraid to talk about God, he said with a smile. It’s always, ‘God willing’, or ‘God bless’, or ‘Thanks be to God.’ That’s something I admire, because I come from the same place.”
That is American religion at its best.
Let’s hope the church and the country follow.
Is there such a thing? Do we care? And why aren’t they doing more, this great and vast majority?
Unlike many Fundamentalists, I don’t dismiss Interfaith dialogue quickly, as I have seen the fruits of Interfaith assistance on certain issues, however, many of these Interfaith groups readily dismiss any idea of a separation of doctrine, insisting that true tolerance is to acknowledge that everyone is equally correct. Therefore, Muslim and Christian are equal religions, as is Hinduism, Buddhism, and Atheism – all leading to the same path. This is wholly (or unholy) false. If this is true, then Christ suffered and died for naught.