United Methodists and Muslims

The question about where the official United Methodist Church (of which I am a member) stands regarding relationships with those of the Muslim faith has come up recently.

In the United Methodist Church, only the General Conference, which meets every four years, can speak officially on behalf of the church. So when I went looking for information about what the church had to say about the issue of building a mosque near ground zero, I didn’t expect to find anything truly official. However, I was disappointed at what little information I found in a Google search. There should be statements from United Methodists all over the place.

Altar at St. Paul's Ground ZeroThe two articles I found linked here below. One speaks to the general relationship of good will held between United Methodists and Muslims, and the other speaks more specifically about the issue of a masque at ground zero.

Muslim leaders honor Methodists

United Methodists address mosque conflicts

The issue of Christian an Muslim relations isn’t one that only affects folks in New York. The local UM church where I attend, Belmont United Methodist Church, participated in faith walk supporting our Muslim neighbors who plan to build a mosque in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Just has been the case on the national scene, this local group has met both opposition and support for their plans to build.

I cannot speak for the United Methodist Church. But I can say for myself, as a American, that unless an existing zoning code prohibits the building of a religious meeting place, any religious group, from Christian to Muslim to Wiccan has the the right to build. It is called freedom of religion.

And I can speak for myself as a Christian. I pray that I am not held accountable for the atrocities that have been carried out in the name of the faith that I claim. Didn’t George W. Bush make similar statements, always careful to separate the actions of crazed fanatics from the faithful practitioners of the Muslim religion?

I see no connection between the Muslim faith and what happened on 9/11. It would be like saying there is a connection between the practice of my faith (Christian) and that of the violence carried out by Michael Bray in the name of Christianity. Or on a larger scale, the Inquisition, or the Crusades, or even the most bloody war fought on American soil, the Civil War, with both sides claiming God’s blessing.

I’d like to believe that the practice of the Christian faith has evolved the bloody violence perpetrated in its name, but evidence points to the fact that it has not. We still fear those who are different. We still want to persecute the very people whom God loves. We still have not learned from the mistakes of history.

May God have mercy on our souls.