NEWS OF RELIGIOUS CONFLICT & INTOLERANCE DURING 2003-MAY.
2003-MAY-8: Evangelical Christians discuss attacks on
Islam: The National Association of Evangelicals, which
represents more than 43,000 conservative Protestant denominations, helped
organize a meeting on MAY-7 to deal with attacks
by leading Fundamentalist religious leaders on Islam. The Institute
on Religion and Democracy, a conservative Christian group in
Washington that often critiques mainline Protestantism, co-sponsored the
meeting. Among the most hate-filled comments were those by Franklin Graham
who called Islam "a very evil and wicked religion," by a former
president of the Southern Baptist Convention, the Rev. Jerry Vines, who
called the Prophet Muhammad "a demon-possessed pedophile," and
Jerry Falwell's comment that "Muhammad was a terrorist." At
the meeting, concern was express that the attacks on Islam by Jerry
Falwell, Franklin Graham, Benny Hinn, Pat Robertson, Jimmy Swaggart and
others fed the widespread perception in the Middle East that the war
on terrorism is really a Christian crusade against Islam. "The 
evangelical leaders...issued what one of them called a 'loving rebuke' to
their colleagues for remarks that they said tarnished American Christians
and jeopardized the safety of missionaries and indigenous Christians in
predominantly Muslim countries." 11
The Rev. Ted Haggard, president of the NAE said: "We
must temper our speech. There has to be a way to do good works without
raising alarms." He suggested that a meeting be held with Falwell,
Robertson and other high-profile Fundamentalist Christians to explain
the damage their comments have caused.
Paul Marshall, senior fellow at the human rights group
Center for Religious Freedom said that attacks on Islam serve
only to antagonize people. "Exactly what is to be achieved by that
except boosting the ego of who said it?"
Hodan Hassan, spokesperson for the Council on
American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) was encouraged by the meeting. She
said: "We can understand theological differences but what's important
is that the dialogue is one of respect, not demonization."
Clive Calver, president of World Relief, the
humanitarian aid arm of the NAE, said that the attacks have "placed
lives and livelihoods at risk" overseas, where missionaries have
become targets of Muslim extremists. He said that Mr. Graham's comments
had been circulated widely throughout the Middle East. "It's used to
indict all Americans and used to indict all Christians."
Rich Cizik, a NAE vice-president said that for some
conservative Christians, Islam has replaced communism as the "modern-day
equivalent of the evil empire...We've got to have an attitude of how can
we serve, how can we help. Saying Islam is evil isn't going to help any
of us." 12 Referring to the clash of civilizations
theory promoted by author Samuel P. Huntington, Cizik said: "If the
hard right has its way, we will have a Huntington."
Beliefnet posted the Associated Press report and
encouraged its visitors to offer comments about the meeting. A common
response was that the meeting attendees were not primarily concerned about
the accuracy of the attacks on Islam; they were worried about the danger
that their missionaries face. 13
2003-MAY-14: Guest pastor offends some Representatives:
The Hill newspaper reported that Rev. George Dillard III of Peachtree City Christian Church near Atlanta GA gave the opening
prayer at the MAY-14 session of the U.S. House of Representatives. He
has been criticized for his apparent references to abortion
access and equal rights for gays and lesbians. He allegedly asked God for
"leaders who will seek your truth … who accept that a lie is a lie and
not spin; that it is immorality and not an alternative lifestyle; that it
is murder not a procedure; that it is stealing and not creative
accounting; that rebellion is rebellion no matter what name we give it."
In the past, the Rev. Daniel Coughlin, the House chaplain has written
guidelines which require chaplains' prayers to be "free from personal
political views, from sectarian controversies, from any intimations
pertaining to foreign policy." Coughlin said: "His remarks were
rather judgmental, but some members think highly of him. Afterward I got
feedback [from members] that it was judgmental."
Rep. Barney Frank, (D-MA), a gay male, told The Hill: "The statement is
a condemnation of gay people. There are appropriate places where you can
say those things."
Dillard told the paper his prayer referred to "the taking a human life
for no other reason than convenience … whether it is abortion, euthanasia
or genocide," and that his "alternative lifestyle" comment
referred to adultery and pedophilia. He said: "The word of God is very
clear. There can be no sex outside of marriage. I am sorry if I have hurt
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- Laurie Goodstein, "Top Evangelicals Critical of Colleagues Over
Islam," New York Times, 2003-MAY-8, at:
- Rachel Zoll, "Evangelicals condemn anti-Islam remarks,"
- "News & Society: Evangelicals condemn anti-Islam remarks,"
- "Guest chaplain's prayer offends: Pastor gives invocation in
House, alludes to abortion, homosexuality," WorldNetDaily,
Copyright © 2003 by Ontario Consultants on Religious
Originally written: 2003-MAY-9
Latest update: 2003-MAY-29
Author: B.A. Robinson