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The Christian and Muslim Divide
a study released by Barna Group last week,
the majority of American Evangelicals said they have an unfavorable perception of Islam—with more than half of Evangelicals saying they believe Islam is essentially a violent religion. How can the world’s two largest religions co-exist and even cooperate in such a contentious time? In this Q interview, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf of the Cordoba Initiative and Gabe Lyons discuss the future for faith relations in the West.
The longer I live, the more I am inspired by the life of Jesus and the way He sat down with people who were so unlike him. Of course, He was also the One who said that being a child of the Father means learning to love your neighbors and your enemies. Over the years, I’ve thought often about this incredible statement. I can’t imagine what this could possibly mean if it doesn’t include having respectful dialogue with those with whom we may disagree. In that moment, we create an opportunity to listen and respond rather than dismiss and attack.
As we live in a post- 9/11 world, we would be remiss not to address the heightened tension between Christians and Muslims in America. The debates that rage between our faith communities don’t seem to be going away. Sound bytes may serve the purposes of network news shows, but thoughtful Christians need to engage these issues with more serious dialogue.
Toward that end, I interviewed one of my neighbors, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf of the so-called “Ground Zero Mosque” at our Q Portland gathering. During my time with him, I sought to understand what he believes and why. We discussed many of his views that have been called “radical,” and I asked if he still stood by his statement that America shared in the blame for what took place on 9/11. We discussed Sharia Law and how he foresees his movement interacting within the larger American culture. It was telling, civil and offered a glimpse into a worldview few Christians are exposed to.
A few believed that my decision to interview Imam Feisal was a tacit approval of his views and beliefs. But let us not forget that listening to one share his or her ideas is not the same as endorsing them. I see this conversation as a model of the kind of dialogue our new public square demands as we pursue the common good in a pluralistic setting.
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