The email came just a few days before two Jewish rabbis and two Muslim friends joined two of us Christian ministers for a Sunday morning service. This service was part of a national event called Faith Shared.
The concept of the event was straightforward. Just a few months before the nation observes the 10th anniversary of the horrifying attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, two groups — the Interfaith Alliance and Human Rights First — invited people around the country “to create an environment of mutual understanding and respect for each other’s faith traditions” by joining Christians, Muslims and Jews together on Sunday morning, June 26.
There were two such observances in Wisconsin — one at Trinity Episcopal Church in Janesville and the other at the church I serve in Fitchburg, Memorial United Church of Christ.
The very idea that Christians, Muslims and Jews would join together to share their distinctive prayers and sacred texts and then talk about them with one another might not seem all that threatening. Yet it upset some of my fellow Christians who hold deep suspicions of Islam.
“Here are some Bible verses where God’s Word says flat out what you guys are doing is wrong!” the email I received a few days before the service warned as it listed 14 verses to underscore the point. “Wake up, please! They’re just trying to sneak their way into our churches to do away with Christians and our Jesus!”
On Facebook, postings accused Christian churches that participate in this of “apostasy” (a total desertion of one’s religion), of having no idea of what the Bible says, of ushering in a one-world religion, of hastening or reflecting the End of Days — that time of tribulation before Christ returns that shows up in conversations about the end of the world.