The Interfaith Community held a press conference at the Church of the Open Arms in Oklahoma City this morning to show solidarity with Muslims at this time of unprecedented Islamophobia. Here's what I was prepared to say. What I actually said in front of a room full of cameras and reporters bore some resemblance to this:
On behalf of Mainstream Baptists I want to apologize to the Islamic community for the unconscionable actions of some extremist Americans. I also want to make it clear that we strongly disagree with those Christians who are demonizing Muslims and inciting hostility toward them. They do not speak for all conservative and evangelical Christians. Their intemperate remarks fuel hostilities between people of different faiths, their incendiary actions do not represent the teachings of Jesus or the Spirit of Christ, and their bellicose posturing endangers the lives of both Christians and Muslims around the world.
Rather than blaming all Islam for the actions of an extremist few -- who represent less than 1% of the 1.5 billion Muslims in the world, we should be in dialogue with and working together with the more than 99% of faithful Muslims who love justice and earnestly desire peaceful relations among all nations and between people of different faiths.
While Mainstream Baptists do not hold to the tenets of Islam, we acknowledge that both faiths worship the God of Abraham. We vigorously defend the right of all persons – whether they worship the God of Abraham or not -- to worship freely according to the dictates of their own consciences.
I suggest that on 9-11 this year faithful and mature Christians spend some time reading the Koran instead of burning it.