Religious Right Rejects Outreach to Muslims

In October, a group of 138 Muslim scholars, clerics and intellectuals came together to issue an open letter entitled “A Common Word Between Us and You,” a statement that sought to declare common ground between Christianity and Islam.

A short time later, the Yale Center for Faith and Culture issued a response that was signed by 100 Christian theologians and ministers that welcomed the effort, stating:

Given the deep fissures in the relations between Christians and Muslims today, the task before us is daunting. And the stakes are great. The future of the world depends on our ability as Christians and Muslims to live together in peace. If we fail to make every effort to make peace and come together in harmony you correctly remind us that “our eternal souls” are at stake as well.

We are persuaded that our next step should be for our leaders at every level to meet together and begin the earnest work of determining how God would have us fulfill the requirement that we love God and one another. It is with humility and hope that we receive your generous letter, and we commit ourselves to labor together in heart, soul, mind and strength for the objectives you so appropriately propose.

Guess who is not happy about it?

An attempt by leaders of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) to win friends and influence Muslims is alienating another group — evangelical Christians.

Reactions have been negative and strong. Islam expert Dr. Patrick Sookhdeo has called it a “betrayal” and a “sellout.” Dr. Albert Mohler, president of Southern Seminary (Southern Baptist), termed it “naiveté that borders on dishonesty.”

Mohler said the agreement “sends the wrong signal” and contains basic theological problems, especially in “marginalizing” Jesus Christ. He also condemned the apology for the Crusades.

“I just have to wonder how intellectually honest this is,” he said. “Are these people suggesting that they wish the military conflict with Islam had ended differently — that Islam had conquered Europe?”

Gary Bauer, president of the Campaign for Working Families, told CitizenLink the NAE leaders “have left the (card) table without their pants — that is, they’ve been taken and may not even realize they’ve been taken.”

Sookhdeo called for Christian leaders who signed the letter to withdraw their names, saying the confession of guilt puts Christian communities in Muslim areas of the world at risk.

“I find it difficult to understand how senior evangelical leaders in the West can join hands with other Christians who actually are betraying the Christian faith (and) their Christian brothers and sisters in the Muslim world,” he said.

No word yet on whether this right-wing leaders will try to get Richard Cizik fired from his position with NEA for signing this letter, as they did a while back when he dared to care about the environment.