In a series of nationwide protests, a number of religious leaders have risked arrest by partaking in acts of civil disobedience in an effort to inspire a mass mobilization of people of faith against the Iraq war. Among those arrested in September protests in front of the White House was James Winkler, general secretary of the United Methodists’ General Board of Church and Society.
During the first Iraq war, after the United States started dropping bombs as a prelude to Desert Storm, homiletics professor David Buttrick surveyed mainline churches around the country to see if the war had been mentioned on the previous Sunday, whether in the sermon or in the voicing of prayers and concerns. In the vast majority of cases the answer was no.
On a blustery Wednesday evening in central London, about a dozen people from different parts of the city made their way to St. Ethelburga’s Centre for Reconciliation and Peace. They included an attorney from a large London law firm, a political lobbyist, a corporate consultant, a Muslim college chaplain, a university professor, a female rabbi and a research scientist.
Jason Byassee’s account of six Protestant theologians who made the journey to the Roman Catholic Church made me reflect on my own experience of Catholicism. My Presbyterian and Methodist ancestors viewed Rome with suspicion and thinly veiled hostility, though they maintained cordial friendships with individual Catholics.
Interfaith relations—and tensions—quickly took center stage at the opening of the World Council of Churches’ ninth assembly in Porto Alegre, Brazil, as Christian leaders grappled with Muslim rage over cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.
Most Christians and Jews remain settled in separate enclaves. They rarely step outside of their familiar domains and risk the confusion that comes from a searching encounter with the stranger next door.
In 1996, shortly before his death, John Howard Yoder grouped ten essays based on papers he had written in the preceding three decades into what he called the “Shalom Desktop Packet.” The collection circulated among Yoder’s wide circle of colleagues and conversation partners, then was made available online.
A few months ago I participated in a Building Bridges Seminar, one of the annual encounters between Muslim and Christian theologians sponsored by Lambeth Palace. I was not quite sure what to expect going in. Such dialogues can range from boring to exhilarating.
Most Protestant ministers in a recent survey have expressed little familiarity with the key beliefs of a number of non-Protestant religious groups. The faith perspectives most likely to be “extremely familiar” to Protestant clergy were Catholicism (41 percent), Judaism (33 percent), Mormonism (21 percent), Jehovah’s Witnesses (21 percent) and Islam (21 percent).