Lamentations over religious bigotry

prangePublished in the Loudoun Times-Mirror, August 11, 2010

As St. James United Church of Christ in Lovettsville, we take seriously a tradition naming Jesus as Christ – as well as taking seriously the biblical tradition and contexts in which that term evolved. So in describing our faith community, we have said that “worship involves a dialogue with a Word of God as we find it in The Scriptures and a dialogue with each other around that Word, along with an openness to how that Word might come in other ways and from other traditions so that we might be enlightened and empowered to live out God’s mercy, justice, and peace.”

With such a statement, it is clear we do not equate the Bible with being a “word of God” – but rather a spiritual resource for discovering some transcending “word” or truth to guide us in our daily lives. But it is also clear from that statement that we are open to how truths out of other traditions might enlighten us in our faith journey. We affirm and celebrate our involvement in Loudoun Interfaith Bridges and encourage all people of faith to pursue this path of cultivating mutual understandings in the contexts of multicultural and multireligious diversity in which we live. (For more information, see loudouninterfaithbridges.org.)

So it is disheartening to us when we hear of opposition to the efforts of the Cordoba Initiative to build a cultural center and mosque near “Ground Zero” in New York coming from a so-called “Christian” legal center known as The American Center for Law and Justice, as well as from the Jewish Anti-Defamation League. This is hardly reflective of the transcending truths to be found in biblical narratives.

But it is even more disheartening – indeed alarming – to hear that a nondenominational church in Florida is hosting an “International Burn a Quran Day” on the anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001, and is inviting Christians to join in burning the Muslim holy book. If anything, Sept. 11 should be a day for Christians and persons of all faith communities to spend time in lamentation and repentance for religious bigotry wherever and whenever it has happened in human history.

The Rev. Don Prange is pastor at St. James United Church of Christ in Lovettsville. Call 540-822-4306 or visit http://www.stjamesucc-love.org.

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