WASHINGTON (ABP) – Christian clergy across the country will organize readings from the Quran and other sacred texts Sunday, June 26, as part of an initiative to counter anti-Muslim bigotry and negative stereotypes of Islam.
Announced in a telephonic press conference May 17, Faith Shared : Uniting in Prayer and Understanding is a project of the Interfaith Alliance and Human Rights First.
“The anti-Muslim rhetoric that has pervaded our national conversation recently has shocked and saddened me,” said Welton Gaddy, president of the Interfaith Alliance, a religious freedom organization that seeks to unite diverse faith voices against extremism.
Gaddy, an ordained Baptist minister, is also pastor of preaching and worship at Northminster Church in Monroe, La., one of 50 congregations in 26 states recruited so far to invite Jewish, Muslim and Christian leaders to read each other’s sacred texts in order to send a message both in the United States and Arab world.
Contrary to highly publicized anti-Islam statements from some U.S. Christian leaders, Gaddy said churches involved in the Faith Shared project “want to read each other’s scriptures instead of burn them.”
Tad Stanke of Human Rights First, a human-rights advocacy organization with offices in New York and Washington, said tactics that show disrespect for Muslims hurt the reputation of all Americans and make it harder for the U.S. to speak with authority on human-rights issues in the Arab world.
Washington National Cathedral will serve as anchor congregation for the June 26 scripture readings.
“Few things are more important for the future of our world than to respect, to honor and to commit ourselves to the well-being of every person,” said National Cathedral Dean Sam Lloyd. “As Americans and people of faith, we must use our great traditions to come together for mutual enrichment and understanding.”
By coming together to read from and hear each other’s sacred texts, organizers believe Christian, Jewish and Muslim clergy will model respect and cooperation in ways that create concrete opportunities to build and strengthen working ties between their faiths.
“This initiative is good for religion and good for our nation,” Gaddy said.
Information about how to organize a service and a list of participating churches can be seen at FaithShared.org.
Bob Allen is managing editor of Associated Baptist Press.