interfaith worship

Crossroads podcast: A Muslim at an Episcopal altar? Face it, that's a complicated story

Crossroads podcast: A Muslim at an Episcopal altar? Face it, that's a complicated story

Sometimes the issue flares up in a major religious denomination. Take, for example, the 2007 case of an Episcopal priest who declared, "I am both Muslim and Christian." She was eventually defrocked. Coverage of that story led to some interesting discussions here at GetReligion.

Quite some time ago, there was the case of a Missouri Synod Lutheran pastor who was disciplined for taking part in a post-Sept. 11 service that involved praying with Oprah Winfrey, as well as leaders from a wide spectrum of religious traditions, including Islam and Hinduism. 

Or maybe we're talking about a professor at a major evangelical Protestant school -- like Wheaton College -- who not only wore a hijab in support of oppressed Muslims, but took to social media to declare that she believes that Christians and Muslims worship the same God. She quoted the pope, when making that point.

These kinds of news reports loomed in the background during this week's "Crossroads" podcast (click here to tune that in), which focused on a recent Holy Week Mass in the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta, during which the clergy renewed their ordination vows.

The bottom line: Stories about interfaith work and worship almost always raise complicated theological issues and, nine times out of 10, there are more than two camps of believers involved in the debates. Hold that thought.

Key details about the new Holy Week story: A Muslim interfaith leader preached during the rite, in the normal point in the liturgy dedicated to the sermon. A passage from the Quran was read, before the Gospel. The preacher stood with the bishop and others at the altar during the consecration prayers and she received the consecrated bread during Holy Communion.

All of this was discussed in my Universal syndicate "On Religion" column this week. Here is a sample of that column, which included material from contacts with Bishop Robert C. Wright, as well as the preacher, Soumaya Khalifah.

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Parliament of World Religions attracts non-critical coverage in Salt Lake City

Parliament of World Religions attracts non-critical coverage in Salt Lake City

In 1993, I took the train to Chicago to experience the World Parliament of Religions, a huge event drawing up to 10,000 people from about 50 flavors of religion. 

As I strolled through the lobby of the host hotel, I was overwhelmed by the welter of humanity dressed in all manner of religious garb -- saffron-robed monks, nuns in all manner of habits, Sikhs in their turbans, a truckload of women in saris following who-knows-what faith, not to mention people wearing every conceivable color of clerical shirt, imams, dervishes, priests, pastors, Wiccans, priestesses, witches, serpent handlers and more that I'm sure that I’ve forgotten.

The Parliament has met in several international venues since 1993, but this year returned to the United States and is meeting this week in Salt Lake City, home base for a certain prominent religious group. As Religion News Service reported in a story picked up by the Salt Lake Tribune:

When the World's Parliament of Religions first met in Chicago in 1893, Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims and even Spiritualists prayed together.
But Mormons were kept out.
What a difference 122 years makes. On Thursday, when the Parliament of the World's Religions -- a slight adjustment of the name was made a century after the first meeting -- convenes in Salt Lake City, it will not only feature a slate of Mormon voices, but will sit in the proverbial lap of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, whose global headquarters is only a five-minute walk away.

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Covering opposition to syncretism in a syncretized world

There is nothing more fun about being a confessional Lutheran than explaining our position on syncretistic worship to those who aren’t.

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