Bishop Mariann Budde on the Muslim prayer service at the National Cathedral

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Bishop Mariann Edgar Budde of the Diocese of Washington has written a column for her diocese on last week’s Muslim prayer service at Washington National Cathedral. It concludes as follows:

All at the Cathedral and Diocesan offices have been taken aback by the hundreds of phone calls and letters protesting the prayer service because of terrorist threats by Muslim extremists around the world. I worry that we are at risk in this country of matching extremism with extremism of our own, as we have in our past.

Some Christians have lamented the fact that we welcomed Muslim prayer in a space consecrated for Christian worship, as if to do so were not Christian. I respect their point of view, but do not share it.

MEB1.jpgJesus encountered certain rulers of the synagogues who protested his healing of the sick on the Sabbath. Such acts are not a violation of the Sabbath, he told them, but an expression of Sabbath’s intent. “The Sabbath was made for humankind; not humankind for the Sabbath.” In the same way, I believe that to welcome Muslims to pray their prayers in our sacred space is not a violation of our identity as Christians, but a clear expression of our faith and devotion to Jesus. I say that as one who loves Jesus, knows him as our Savior and Lord, believes in the doctrine of the Trinity, and strives each day to seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving my neighbors as myself.

In his book, “Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha and Mohammed Cross the Road: Christian Identity in a Multi-Faith World”, Brian McLaren writes that it is possible to have a strong, vibrant Christian identity and also be kind. By kindness he means far more than mere tolerance, political correctness, or coexistence. We can be strong Christians and also benevolent, hospitable, accepting, “so that the stronger our Christian faith, the more goodwill we will feel and show toward those of other faiths, seeking to understand and appreciate their religion from their point of view.”

I suspect my theology on this matter is underdeveloped, but I work under the impression that if we worship God in good faith, God is capable of figuring out just who is being worshipped.

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Chaz Brooks
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Chaz Brooks

Oh, for Pete's sake, JC. Jesus is the one savior of humankind, of Muslims as much as Christians, and all humankind alike is called to have faith and gratitude in that. If that in your mind is the same as "turn or burn," then I can't be bothered to carry on having a discussion with you.

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tgflux
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tgflux

If someone hacked your account, Chaz---if someone other than you typed

"Actually, as the one savior of all humankind, it is everyone's duty to worship Jesus Christ in truth, including Muslims and everyone else."

---then you have my sincere apologies. [Moderators, do we have a hacking problem of EC accounts going on?]

JC Fisher

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Robert Martin
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Robert Martin

There is a whole spectrum of things that the bishop and diocese could do and could have done, "to welcome the stranger." They could invite Muslims to a Christian service, to Bible study, to lunch, to a walking tour of the Cathedral, to a class about Christianity (and then/before, a class about Islam), to a joint conference/seminar about religion. All of these could be done in the Cathedral. These are off the top of my keyboard.

Why is having Muslim prayers and preaching about Mohammed in a Christian Cathedral, the only way to show friendship with Muslims? It isn't, of course. The bishop has not offered a convincing reason as to why welcoming Muslims in this way is essential.

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Chaz Brooks
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Chaz Brooks

JC Fisher: I never said anything of the sort. Do you read the scriptures with the same dismissive, reductionist approach that you read my posts?

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tgflux
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tgflux

"Actually, as the one savior of all humankind, it is everyone's duty to worship Jesus Christ in truth, including Muslims and everyone else."

Well, that's your opinion---prevalent in the many "Turn-or-Burn" Fundamentalist denominations.

I'm grateful (truly!) I don't hear it much in the Episcopal Church (FWIW, I'm a lifer, and all around the USA). It's not consistent (IMO) w/ the Jesus I know through Scripture, Tradition and Reason.

And I don't think it's Good News.

JC Fisher

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Chaz Brooks
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Chaz Brooks

JC Fisher: Actually, as the one savior of all humankind, it is everyone's duty to worship Jesus Christ in truth, including Muslims and everyone else. That's why we cannot host non-Christian rites. We have a higher calling than mere niceness, a calling that at the deepest level simply cannot be reconciled with Muslim beliefs. The cathedral is a house of prayer for all people, but the great question is 'prayer to whom?'

I do believe we can extend our hand in friendship to Muslims while pointing with the other to the true life of the world. I don't see how friendship means we have to co-opt our principles, and I don't see how the parable of the Good Samaritan calls us to any more than I can see how healing on the Sabbath Day does either. I am far from questioning our obligation to offer love and charity to non-Christians-- I just don't see how charity calls us to corrupt our places of worship with rites we don't believe in.

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tgflux
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tgflux

We also have the obligation of worshiping Jesus Christ in truth, which did not happen at this ill conceived event.

Yes, *we*---Christian believers---do. Muslims do not. But if I may, I think "the Good Samaritan" might have been a better Biblical illustration. The GS showed hospitality to someone of a different faith (including hosting him under his paid-for roof): ought we not do likewise?

JC Fisher

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Jim Michie
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Bishop Budde, the people of Gaza, Palestine, are viewing a recording of the Muslim Friday Prayers that you and the National Cathedral hosted on last Friday, November 14, at noon. My friends in Gaza, as you know, forwarded email letters to you praising and thanking you for this outreach to the Muslim community. Dr. Mosheer Amer, professor of English at Islamic University of Gaza, in his letter said the prayer service was "a much-needed event that sends a true message of love, tolerance and inter-faith dialogue."

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Chaz Brooks
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Chaz Brooks

I'm absolutely perplexed at how the bishop gets from Jesus healing on the Sabbath to allowing non-Christian rites in a cathedral. Though, she claims her own theology is "underdeveloped" so it seems she is as perplexed as I am.

Of course there is nothing wrong with friendship with other faiths and hospitality and all that, but welcoming people is not our only obligation as Christians. We also have the obligation of worshiping Jesus Christ in truth, which did not happen at this ill conceived event.

[Editor's note: the comment about having an underdeveloped theology was made by the author of the item, not the bishop.]

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Kenneth Knapp
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I sort of had the impression that this service was conducted to poke conservatives in the eye as much as to advance the cause of Christian/Muslim relations. I may be wrong, but the Cathedral has taken some very partisan political positions recently.

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Robert Winter
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Robert Winter

The Bishop may be overthinking/overexplaining. The Cathedral's slogan is "A House of Prayer for All People." End of story.

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Caroline Small
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Caroline Small

In light of the violence in Jerusalem and the increasing tension over access to and use of the holy sites in that holiest of cities, Bishop Budde's message of Christ's love and kindness in this specific context is timely and valuable and meaningfully responsive to the hurts of the world.

From Jeremy Bowen, the BBC's Mid-East Editor:

"Many Palestinians believe Israel is preparing to allow Jews to pray in the compound of the al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, the third holiest site for Muslims after Mecca and Medina. The Israeli government has denied that emphatically. But Palestinians listen to calls from hard right-wing Jewish nationalists and believe it might happen.

"Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has called for Palestinians to defend al-Aqsa. For Palestinians that sounds reasonable. The Israeli government has condemned it as incitement to terrorism. Both Palestinians and Israelis are now talking about a third Palestinian uprising - or intifada. It's too early to say one has started. But in the absence of political action to stop the violence escalating, another intifada is a distinct possibility."

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Eric Bonetti
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Eric Bonetti

Muslims in the cathedral? Oh my. Next thing you know, we'll have tax collectors and sinners running about....

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Robert Martin
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Robert Martin

I think the bishop is misguided and wrong. But so what? She is convinced she is doing the right thing and acting like Jesus. Ok.

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Philip B. Spivey
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Bishop Budde has nothing to apologize for. She has, by her actions and her words, firmly planted her crozier in the Christian soil of "welcoming the stranger". When the Episcopal Church Welcomes You, who shall we turn away?

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