The Rt. Rev. Christopher Epting writes from the House of Bishops meeting in Kanuga, Who is My Neighbor? Islam and Christianity:
Today our theme was “Who is my neighbor: Islam and Christianity.” Presenters included a Muslim scholar and former ambassador from Pakistan, Dr. Akbar Ahmed; Dr. William Sachs, an Episcopal priest now running an interfaith think-tank; and Ms. Eliza Grizwold, poet and journalist who has published an account of her seven years of reporting on the intersection of Christianity and Islam along “The Tenth Parallel” (the book’s title).
The morning was spent in presentations on the complexities and yet necessity of Christian-Muslim dialogue since over 60% of the world’s population are adherents of these two religions. As we approach the 10th anniversary of 9/11 prejudice, fear, and misunderstanding of Muslims seems only increasing in the United States and all speakers emphasized the need for us to counter this reality.
So often we hear “where are the moderate Muslim voices” to counter Al Quaida, the Taliban, etc. Today we were asked “Where are the moderate Christian voices to counter Glenn Beck, Franklin Graham and the other fear mongers who regularly demonize all Muslims for the sins of the extemists. Good question…
From one of the presentations on the Tri Faith Initiative in Omaha, NE:
The bishops discussed three questions:
The last two promises of the baptismal covenant ask us to seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving our neighbors as ourselves; and to strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being. How might these promises be fulfilled in efforts to deepen relationships with members of other faith traditions, particularly Islam?
Given the fact that polls show a sharp increase in prejudice toward Islam and persons of Islamic faith in this country, what specific steps might you take in your diocese to combat this prejudice, and also to support, affirm and partner with other faith traditions, especially Islam, in a way that would further God's mission in the world?
How can we "seek and serve Christ in all persons" in such ways that would lead us to understand increasing religious diversity as a gift and a promise, rather than as a threat or a challenge?