Islam Goes to the PCUSA
Yes, I have been away a long time (since last October, to be exact), and I have been mulling over giving up this blogging stuff altogether. Then, according to The Layman Online the Presbyterian Church (USA) just goes and blows my plans all to hell:
“Allah bless us and bless our families and bless our Lord. Lead us on the straight path – the path of all the prophets: Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad. Peace be upon them all Amen.
“In the name of Allah, the beneficent, the merciful, let us praise the Lord. The creator of the universe, the most merciful, the most compassionate and the Lord of the universe who has created us and made us into nations and tribes, from male and females that we may know each other, not that we might despise each other, or may despise each other. Incline towards peace and justice and trust in God, for the Lord is one that hears and knows everything and the servants of God, the most compassionate, the most merciful, gracious are those who walk in the earth in humility and when bigots and hateful and Islamaphobes address them, they say peace. Peace be upon them and peace be upon Allah.”
Thus went the prayer offered by Wajidi Said, from the Portland Muslim Community, as part of the “first order of business” during the opening plenary session of the 222nd General Assembly in Portland (which, incidentally, is also where the United Methodist Church’s General Conference met earlier this year).
Now, you may be thinking, “well, if you ask a Muslim to pray, this is what you’re going to get. What’s the big surprise?” But here’s the thing: any Christian leader who was invited to pray at a Muslim event (believe it or not, it does happen, though the invitees are pretty exclusively mainliners) would consciously refrain from referring to Jesus. His prayer would not be addressed to Jesus, nor would it be offered in Jesus’ name. It would be addressed simply to God or Lord (who might even be referred to as “the benificent the merciful,” or some such), and would end with a simple “Amen.” I’ve heard dozens of these kinds of prayers, and never heard one that varied from that formula. I would not expect a Muslim to mention Jesus, but I would expect that out of politeness he would refrain from mentioning Mohammad as a prophet of the same class as Jesus. I suspect, however, that no one–at least no one in PCUSA leadership–so much as batted an eye.
The PCUSA is meeting until Saturday. I guess I can come out of retirement at least that long.
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