It does not take a well versed sociologist to recognize that there are tensions in Christian Muslim relations. Yesterday was the 11th anniversary of the September 11th attacks in New York, Virginia, and Pennsylvania. I remember the day like it was yesterday and did pause yesterday to reflect on how my life has been shaped by that day and the events which transpired because of the attacks. I do not carry any hostile feelings towards the religion of Islam and do not point to the religion itself as the cause of the attacks that day. Every faith, whether it is Christianity or Islam, has fanatics in its ranks.
While at work yesterday, Jason shared an experience he had at a popular grocery store chain here in Virginia on Sunday. A young man working in the produce department was instructing his fellow co-workers that because they were all Christians, they should not associate with a young girl who also worked at the store because she was a Muslim. Now to anyone who has a head on their shoulders, you should be outraged at this attitude that continues to permeate our society.
“To be a strong Christian does not mean you have to have a strong antipathy toward other faiths and their leaders. To be hostile rather than hospitable, in fact, makes you a worse Christian, not a better one.”
I am proud to be a member of a congregation, whose leadership chose to reach out to a Muslim community who was in need of a space for their Friday prayers. I am proud to call those leaders my colleagues. It was by opening our doors to a congregation of a different faith that we were able to engage in dialouge with one another to better understand each other’s faith.
Brian McLaren wrote a piece for the Huffington Post titled, Just Because You Love Jesus Doesn’t Mean You Have to Disrespect Buddha, Dishonor Muhammad or Disregard Moses. McLaren argues that by pushing thees people away and not engaging them in meaningful relationships we run the risk of dehumanizing an entire group of people. And that as Christians, because we love Jesus does not in turn mean that we must now hate those who practice another faith.
This is just my two cents (and the two of you who read this may or may not even care). I do hope though, that we can move from a society seeking revenge and hostility to communities coming together (past our immediate differences) to see that we in fact have more in common that we realize.