Religious Leaders See a Silver Lining In a Cloud of Contoversy
The interfaith response to the Dove World Outreach Center's plan to burn copies of the Qur'an on September 11th was strong.
There were vigils, prayer meetings and special services for days, allowing community and religious leaders to focus on what unites rather than what divides them.
Religious leaders and supporters said they're coming together in hopes of preventing further conflict and confusion between different faiths, but many said although they appreciate the opportunity to come together in unity, they wish it wasn't under such troubling and inflammatory circumstances.
Larry Reimer, Pastor of United Church of Gainesville, said, "We're finding good things in spite of the evil that's happening." Reimer said that he hopes in the long run an act meant to divide will actually provide an opportunity for reconciliation.
He said, "We all come from the same roots in our traditions, so that's a reminder for all of us that the essence of our faith is peace and to love one another."
Reimer said that the connections made out of this challenge are very powerful and Dr. Saeed Khan, former President of the Muslim Association of North Central Florida, agreed. However, Khan emphasized as many have, that the ramifications of this ordeal should not be underestimated. He said, "My biggest concern is almost every Muslim country has a significant minority of Christians...Did he think of that?"
Khan said that many people worldwide think that Jones represents America and Christianity as a whole. Which is a conclusion that could have devastating consequences. That's why so many people came together to say otherwise.
Reimer said, "We can't let the radicals whether it's Terry Jones of Islamic radicals speak for the entire tradition."
The recent change of plans signifies a victory for those in opposition to the burning of the Qur'an, but this still impacts interfaith relations as people are now more aware there's work to be done in order to live in peace.
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