I’ve heard plenty of talk the past couple weeks about Christians burning Korans and trying to stop a mosque from being built. But finally, there’s a good story about the two faiths colliding.
In Memphis, a mosque was built right across from an already established Christian church. But the construction wasn’t quite complete in time for Ramadan… so the church’s pastor invited them in:
Under a gigantic cross constructed of salvaged wood, nearly 200 area Muslims have been gathering each night to pray.
“I think it’s helped break down a lot of barriers in both congregations,” said Islamic center board member Danish Siddiqui.
“I’ve got fear and ignorance in me, too,” said [pastor Steve] Stone, referring to his and some of his congregants’ early apprehension toward the Memphis center.
But as members of the Christian congregation take the opportunity to sit in on Ramadan prayers and meet people at the nightly gatherings, much of that mystery and fear has dissipated.
“People in Memphis appreciate faith, even if it’s not their faith,” said Shaykh Yasir Qadhi, the Islamic center’s scholar in residence and a Rhodes College professor.
You don’t have to like, respect, or condone what either faith group believes to realize this is a positive step forward.
Christian Jason Boyett weighs in on the matter (emphasis his):
I’m sure there will be some Christians — people who are otherwise kind and generous — who will be very uncomfortable with the idea of allowing another religion to worship in a sacred Christian space. (Especially a religion Christians have been taught to view as false, at best, and demonic, at worst.)
But I see nothing but good things coming from this kind of no-strings-attached hospitality and radical grace, and I hope we’ll begin to see more of it.
Let me toss this question out:
Do you think your humanist group, if it had a building, would be willing to open it up to a religious group for prayer services if they had nowhere else to go?
If that’s already happened, I haven’t heard the story. But I wonder how atheists would react if they were presented with that scenario…