A call for respect for Muslim neighbors

September 8, 2010


Gradye Parsons, Stated Clerk of the General Assembly, and Linda Valentine, Executive Director of the General Assembly Mission Council, have issued the following statement:

As we are nearing the anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, we continue our prayers for those who lost their lives or were injured, as well as their loved ones. At the same time, we join with others in expressing deep concern about the anti-Muslim sentiments and actions that are being expressed across the country in general and about the building of Cordoba House and mosque near the site of the former World Trade Center in New York City in particular. 

We are keenly aware that many Muslims, as well as Jews, Christians, Hindus, Presbyterians and others, lost family members in the attacks on September 11, 2001. We recognize, as does the Muslim community around the world, that a group of Muslims who embraced terrorism and teachings counter to the Qur'an and Islam carried out the attacks.

We stand with the majority of Muslims—including American Muslims—who are working against such radical influences in their communities. They have our support for building the Cordoba House as a community center dedicated to learning, compassion, and respect for all people. Their effort is consistent with our country’s principle of freedom of religion and the rights all citizens should enjoy.

  1. Respect. for respect. Be sincere. Denise and those who published this were sincere. really respectful. we need to be the same in virtue; not ego. Best agreement is sameness in virtue; not opinion. Islam accepts all the Prophets due to consideration and its final message for mankind. Judaism and Christianity (not insanity) should consider all the Prophets as well. People like chaleb manipulate respect/virtue for their own self/people. Stop double crossing. Stop being prejudice and selfish. For respect. charity. chastity. justice. it's right for every race, religion, color, and people. best ways to peace.

    by ImmortalSoul

    November 24, 2010

  2. Respect! For respect. Be real about respect. Be sincere and caring. Don't manipulate respect for your own self. People like chaleb needs to stop manipulating virtue for his own kind/likes/people. Stop being selfish and prejudice. for respect. charity. chastity. justice. it's right for every race, religion, color, and people. Best ways to peace...

    by ImmortalSoul

    November 24, 2010

  3. Why doesn,t the so called leaders of the PC/USA let it be known that they are expressing a personal view point and not one for the entire membership of the denomanation. There are many of us who do not agree with the Stated Clerks remarks. As he has stated he doesn't consider the Bible to be athorative in this time and place.

    by Gerald Watson

    October 7, 2010

  4. Thanks for such a thoughtful message. I'm glad that we have such kind and understanding people like you in the world who believe in respect and God's love for everyone regardless of their religion.

    by Minhas Zaman

    September 13, 2010

  5. Have we forgotten that we must love and honor God? Have we forgotten that God does not like enemies? I urge you to read: NIV (1 John 2:18-28). It is plain and simple and does not need any interpretation. I also urge you to see if in the Koran they accept Jesus Christ as God's son? If you find a translation look through: Qur'an, Surah 19:30-35. You may find some answers that your heart has been leading you to ask. I refuse to argue the point. Either you believe or you don't.

    by K. Love

    September 12, 2010

  6. Muslims do not believe that Christ is the Son of God and will not accept Jesus calling God "Father." Never for one moment did Jesus disparage that special relationship with and yet we, with a narcissistic need to be accepted in the world's eyes, would turn a blind eye to this. Also, Christ promised that the Holy Spirit would come into the world after He ascended. Muslims interpret that promise as being fulfilled by Mohammed. That is what Jesus referred to as blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, which, according to Him, is unforgivable. We are too quick to gloss over these important differences in our bureaucratic need to be on par with other religions. Gradye and Linda should know better than this. I am both disappointed and ashamed of their letter, but not altogether surprised. Universalism is creeping into the PCUSA church and it's starting at the top of the tree.

    by John Stuart

    September 11, 2010

  7. "Cordoba House" was renamed "Park 51" to emphasize it's role as a community center and give the project a more American and generic sounding name. This was also to undercut an argument present by extremist opponents of the center that "Cordoba" was some kind of Muslim code word for "conquest." Thank you for this strongly worded and unequivocal statement. It makes me proud to be Presbyterian. Rock on!

    by Russ Rogers

    September 11, 2010

  8. Really? Can we please get out of partisan politics and get back into the business of being church. These pronouncements from on high simply reflect a knee-jerk reaction...and a delayed one at that.

    by Kerry Knox Westerwick

    September 10, 2010

  9. It is perhaps time that we talk about the historical reality that Christians, Jews, and Muslims all worship God. When Abram and Sarai left Haran to embark on the journey God had planned for them, they were given a promise that the would have a son, and Abraham was actually blessed with TWO sons--the first being Ishmael (by Sarai's handmaiden Hagar), and the second being Isaac (by God grace, born to Sarai (Sarah) in her old age. Isaac inherited the blessing that by Middle Eastern tradition should have gone to Ismael because he was the son of Abraham AND Sarah, and God's promise was to them both. God told Abrahm not to grieve over Hagar and Ismael because he had plans for them as well. Like Isaac, Ismael was to have many sons and God promised to make him a mighty nation (as he did to Isaac). The Muslim community holds that their identity is tied to Ismael, who worshipped God as much as Isaac did. So, it is NOT a different God that the Muslim community woships. It is the same God that they worship, even though the name used may be different. Allah is simply the name of God in a different language. Muslims and Christians of Arabic descent call God Allah, in the same way Spanish-speaking people use the name Dios for God. Thank you Gradye and Linda for writing your response. It may be used in my sermon this coming Sunday. I had already planned to preach on "Why should we study the Bible?" before the article about burning the Koran hit the stands. Perhaps if we actually read it a bit more closely we would not be so surprised to find out that Christians and Muslims are kin.

    by Denise Group

    September 9, 2010

  10. I am proud to be a part of the PCUSA which steps up to oppose injustice and hatred and stand for the peace of Christ shown through choosing to act to uplift the dtgnity of all people.

    by Jeanne Clawson

    September 9, 2010

  11. Burning books has long been considered the height of ignorance, but a book of another faith is not only ignorant and anti-Christian it is anti-American. Let us not forget that our country was founded with religious freedom as a principle.

    by Jan Boston

    September 9, 2010

  12. My thanks, too, for this thoughtful response underscoring our need to live well in our world. All the responses, thus far, with the exception of one, reflect the large-heartedness of God's love. As it should be in the world God is shaping for us. Keep up the good work ... I am proud to be a 40-year Presbyterian pastor, for we are church that clearly understands that talk about God is, at the same time, talk about humankind and the world in which we live. Where others rejoice in digging chasms, we have set ourselves to the work of Christ, building bridges and calling one another to a deeply ethical, covenant life.

    by Tom Eggebeen

    September 9, 2010

  13. Thank you, Rev. Parsons and Ms. Valentine, for a truly Christlike response to the recent controversies. "Who is my neighbor?" Jesus answered with the story of a Jew helped by a Samaritan--a foreigner who worshipped God in all the "wrong" ways. Jews, Christians and Muslims all worship the God of Abraham. Jews, Christians and Muslims who speak Arabic all call God "Allah". We Christians may not consider the Quran as the Word of God any more than Jews do the New Testament, but we can all treat each other with the love and respect God commands us to show. If we Christians cannot reach out to Jews and Muslims, to which faiths can we reach out? Interfaith dialog is crucial in today's world. We need not become more Muslim or Jewish any more than Muslims or Jews should become more Christian. However, by sharing our stories and testimony with each other, we may each find ways to more deeply love God and love our neighbor.

    by James Klotz

    September 9, 2010

  14. We are at a crossroad of history with another just two days ahead. What we christians do today may well determine whether that crossroad ahead plunges the world into an abyss of frightfull proportions. I pray that it will not be the abyss but the enlightenment of Mr. Terry Jones in the hours to come. That anyone would hijack Christianity and its core values of love, peace, respect, patience, and hope to attack the very heart of the Muslim or any other faith is antithetical to what I know as a born again Christian. I am totally baffled to understand the reasoning behind such an act as is proposed and unequivocally condemn such an act as inarticulate and cowardly. Any student of history knows that for evil to prosper men and women of good will need only to remain silent. That I will not do. Let the media isolate him from the world and those in his community reject such flagrant disrespect of another faith community however much he/they may disagree. We can only hope that the Muslim. community around the world will see this church's actions for what they are; an ignorant group, in an out of touch with the world enclave, whose self-righteous attitudes may lead them to extremes of behavior against anyone with whom they disagree.

    by Roger A. Brown

    September 9, 2010

  15. If Christianity is not overwhelmingly about our love and compassion to (all) others, in response to Jesus' love for us, then it is worth nothing. That some, while claiming to be Christians, can plan hate-filled and deliberately provocative acts like Koran-Burning shows how very far they have fallen. It is very sad, and we must speak against it.

    by Ian Burrow

    September 9, 2010

  16. Hello, A friend of mine's pastor (Rev. Eric T. Myers) pointed out this letter to me. It is so encouraging to hear voices of reason during this tumultuous time for American Muslims. With the amount of hate that has been spewed thoroughout the media about muslims, and the Islamophobia that has permeated into the American society, it has become increasingly difficult for a normal muslim to feel secure in the US. However thoughts like yours and acceptance from the Christian community goes a long way to quell our fears. I am proud to know that as an American (and a human) I can still turn to a Christian brother for moral and spiritual support, and that most people understand that Islam is not about hate and killing. Just as the majority of muslims do not condone the extremist muslims who carry out their own agenda, the majority of Christians do not approve of the actions and beliefs of radicals like Terry Jones. Thank you for understanding that Islam is not a religion of hate and extremism. I hope all my neioghbors, be they of any faith, embrace our message of peace and harmony so that we all can live in a world of humanity. Peace be upon you, A Muslim neighbor

    by Rehman Saiyed

    September 9, 2010

  17. Dear Sir, Madam, I am grateful for your article, "A Call for Respect for Muslim Neighbors." I completely agree. Additionally, as 9/11 sadly approaches, I am urging your to put this article on the "front page." Folks need to know that I denomination is shocked and offended that a church would feature the burning of copies of the Koran. Thanks for your consideration. In Him, George Gilchrist

    by Rev. George Gilchrist

    September 8, 2010

  18. I am not eve going to read the whole article! This is terrible. I though we had Christians running this denomination. Muslims rededicating their selves to who? Not God, they worship a thing called Allah. Allah is NOT God and never will be. Islam is an evil religion and we must stand against it. I am going to leave the PCUSA if this does not stop.

    by Caleb Carter

    September 8, 2010

  19. Thank you for your very theologically sound statement. It shows insight, compassion, and the love of Christ and should be published as widely as possible, including to our muslim sisters and brothers. It is the only reference I have seen to the 9th commandment, and I believe this is very appropriate. I feel your statement nears the level of importance for our times as did the Declaration of Barmen for the atrocities of the Nazis. Thank you again for standing up in behalf of Peace and Understanding and responsible Christian attention to the whole Bible in general and the Gospel in particular.

    by Rev. Dana Stout

    September 8, 2010

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