Amy Frykholm posted yesterday about Muhammad Musri, the
Muslim leader who met with Terry Jones and helped defuse last week's
Qur'an-burning situation. If more Christians and Muslims knew one another
personally, the whole furor may not have occurred in the first place.
It's a lot harder to adopt anti-Islam rhetoric when your
family doctor is Muslim, or your daughter's college roommate is Muslim, or your
congregation has worked with a mosque to build a Habitat for Humanity house.
Many of the troubling statements I've read in recent weeks—and heard in my
pastoral ministry—would never have been said if folks simply got to know their
Muslim neighbors. Conversations about Islam could shift from a focus on the
unknown other to one on knowing one another better.
Recently, I've heard of many Christian pastors participating
in interfaith services, posting supportive statements regarding Islam to their
Web sites and teaching Sunday School sessions on Islam. NPR recently ran a
great piece on "bridging the Christian-Muslim divide." This is all positive and
helpful, good steps on the journey from fear to understanding. But nothing
beats personal relationships.
Have relationships or experiences with Muslims affected you
personally? How can Christians promote positive relationships with our Muslim
neighbors? How can churches help connect congregants to those of other faiths?
Adam J. Copeland teaches faith and leadership at Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota. He has served as pastor of a Presbyterian church and as mission developer of a Lutheran ministry. He blogs at A Wee Blether, part of the CCblogs network.