God is in the details

regrettheerror2My two favorite parts of some newspapers are the obituary and corrections sections. And Sunday's New York Times did not disappoint:

A headline last Sunday about a Muslim man and an Orthodox Jewish woman who are partners in two Dunkin' Donuts stores described their religions incorrectly. The two faiths worship the same God -- not different ones.

Right. I don't know about you, but I trust The New York Times' religious declarations above anyone else's. I mean, really. Sure, President George W. Bush believes that Muslims and Jews worship the same God, but I sure as heck don't. And while it's charming to find the Times and Bush agreeing on something, that doesn't mean they're right. At the very least they have to understand that not everybody shares their opinion.

The original headline, in case you were wondering, was:

Worshiping Different Gods (but United on the Issue of Pork)

The correction is a blight on an otherwise great local feature about religious tolerance in action. Reporter Deborah Kolben's description of Muslim Sam Habib and Orthodox Jew Cindy Gluck was a great way to show how Muslims and Jews peacefully coexist in neighborhoods of Brooklyn:

"I had never met a Muslim before," Ms. Gluck said the other day, sitting with her partner in the small office at the back of the Church Avenue store, a space heavy with the aroma of baking croissants. "The first thing I wanted to know was: 'What kind of Muslim are you?'"

Mr. Habib chimed in with a laugh: "All her friends told her that she should be careful that her crazy terrorist Arab partner doesn't put bombs in her packages."

Under the ground rules the pair worked out before making their partnership official, Ms. Gluck takes off Saturdays to celebrate the Sabbath, and Mr. Habib worships at the mosque every Friday. The doughnuts come from a kosher bakery in Borough Park. On Jewish holidays, Mr. Habib technically owns the entire business because Ms. Gluck is not allowed to earn money on those days.

And there is one edict they both obey. "Neither of us is allowed to enjoy the profits of the pork," Ms. Gluck said. Any money the business makes on the sale of bacon, sausage or ham -- foods that are forbidden in both their religions -- is split and given away, hers to her synagogue and to Israel, his to the workers as bonuses. . . .

"She's Jewish and I'm Muslim," Mr. Habib said. "That doesn't stop us from creating a business."

Habib says it well. Without getting into the debate of whether Jews and Muslims worship the same God, reporters need to understand that it's possible for people who believe in different gods to be friends, family, neighbors and business partners. The essential element of tolerance is, in fact, disagreement. There is no need to deny those differences, particularly the ones about truth claims. It is precisely because Muslims and Jews believe so differently that this story was published -- even if a silly correction tries to mitigate that.

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