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Religious dialogue, outreach, apology,
and cooperation
during the Year 2008:

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  • 2008-JUL-15: Archbishop of Canterbury issues letter to Muslims: On 2008-JUL-15, The Daily Mail in London, UK, reported that: 

    "Christian doctrine is offensive to Muslims, the Archbishop of Canterbury said yesterday. Dr Rowan Williams also criticized Christianity's history for its violence, its use of harsh punishments and its betrayal of its peaceful principles. His comments came in a highly conciliatory letter to Islamic leaders calling for an alliance between the two faiths for 'the common good'.

    The 18 page letter was issued just before the start of the 2008 Lambeth Conference of the worldwide Anglican Communion. It is a response to a letter "A Common Word Between Us and You " issued by 138 Muslim leaders from 43 countries to Christian leaders in the Fall of 2007.

    Dr Williams said that violence is incompatible with the beliefs of Christianity and Islam. Once both religions accept this principle, they can cooperate in the fight against poverty and prejudice and to help the environment.

    He also said the Christian belief in the Trinity - that God is Father, Son and Holy Ghost at the same time - 'is difficult, sometimes offensive, to Muslims'. Islam, Judaism, Sihkism, and some other religions teach that God is an indivisible unity.

    Dr Williams wrote:

    "It is all the more important for the sake of open and careful dialogue that we try to clarify what we do and do not mean by it, and so I trust that what follows will be read in this spirit. ... Christianity has been promoted at the point of the sword and legally supported by extreme sanctions. ... There is no religious tradition whose history is exempt from such temptation and such failure. ... Religious identity has often been confused with cultural or national integrity, with structures of social control, with class and regional identities, with empire: and it has been imposed in the interest of all these and other forms of power. ... If we are in the habit of defending each other, we ought to be able to learn to defend other groups and communities as well. ... We can together speak for those who have no voice or leverage in society - for the poorest, the most despised, the least powerful, for women and children, for migrants and minorities; and even to speak together for the great encompassing reality that has no voice of its own, our injured and abused material environment."

    He expressed particular concern for Christians and Muslims who live in countries in which theirs is a minority religion. He referred to the Golden Rule, writing:

    "The principle of reciprocity seems to many to be a natural expression of love of the neighbor, since it means wanting for our neighbors what we want for ourselves. Its acceptance by both Christians and Muslims would help to resolve many of the tensions experienced by both Christian and Muslim minorities." 2

  • 2008-NOV-29: WI: Church opens church to Muslims: Faith Presbyterian Church in Milwaukee, Wisconsin opens its Sunday school rooms to Muslims so that they can meet to hold their morning and evening daily prayers. About 150 Muslim families live within a two mile radius of the church. Many find it difficult to get across town to one of the mosques, but can conveniently go to the Presbyterian Church.

    Faith Presbyterian's pastor, the Rev. Deb Bergeson-Graham, said: "I think we're doing this, not because of what they believe, but because of what we believe. It's what Christ would have us do." 3

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References used:

  1. Steve Doughty, "Archbishop of Canterbury: 'Christian doctrine is offensive to Muslims'," WorldWide Religious News, 2008-JUL-15, at: http://wwrn.org/
  2. Rowan Williams, Text of "A Common Word for the Common Good," 2008-JUL-15, at: http://www.archbishopofcanterbury.org/ This is a DOC file.  It is also available in PDF format at: http://www.acommonword.com/
  3. Annysa Johnson, "Christians and Muslims, both under one roof. Faith Presbyterian in Franklin doubles as Islamic prayer center," Journal Sentinel Online, 2008-NOV-29, at: http://www.jsonline.com/

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Copyright 2008 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally posted: 2008-AUG-10
Latest update: 2018-OCT-10
Author: B.A. Robinson

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