Baha'i News -- Christians, Muslims calling for tolerance

Wednesday, September 11, 2002

Christians, Muslims calling for tolerance

Pres. Hinckley is among leaders reflecting on year

By Carrie A. Moore
Deseret News religion editor

      Outrage at acts we can't fathom must be balanced by tolerance for beliefs we don't share, world religious leaders said in reflecting on Sept. 11.
      And, they said, good can come from evil — if we let it.
      "We know that much good has come of these dreadful circumstances," said President Gordon B. Hinckley of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. "From the smoke and ashes of New York; Washington, D.C.; Pennsylvania and other areas of the world has arisen a greater sense of unity and purpose in ridding the earth of evil and providing for the freedom and security of all people. We endorse the righteous efforts of God-fearing people everywhere in this important endeavor."
      This new resolve comes even as the world is "still shocked and dismayed at the infamy of those cowardly attacks," President Hinckley said in a statement released Tuesday.
      Sept. 11 "has become a symbol of unspeakable evil and deep loss, of tremendous sacrifice and great faith and of challenges we continue to face as a people," the U.S. Catholic Bishops' Administrative Committee said in a prepared statement.
      The Council of America-Islamic Relations has urged every mosque in the United States to open its doors not only to constituents but to visitors to help foster a spirit of cooperation.
      "On this solemn occasion, we urge all Americans to unite in prayers for peace and tolerance," said Omar Ahmad, board chairman for the council. "Now more than ever, we must challenge those who seek to divide our country along ethnic or religious lines."
      Christians and Muslims must "find ways to live together in this very small world," said George Carey, archbishop of Canterbury and worldwide leader of the Anglican Communion. Those efforts must come, he said, "however strong their faith is in Allah or in our case Jesus Christ."
      Tolerance is not enough, said the Baha'i community of Salt Lake City as it joined hundreds of its member groups worldwide in publicizing a letter by the faith's world governing body, the Universal House of Justice. Sent to U.S. cardinals, bishops, ministers, rabbis, imams and others, the seven-page letter says, "Religions must accept the reality that they are equal in validity and that spiritual life is equally accessible to all of humanity."
      The message warns that "the rising fires of religious prejudice will ignite a worldwide conflagration the consequences of which are unthinkable."
      Sept. 11 is a time to honor the nation's victims and heroes, President Hinckley said.
      "During the past year, we have come to know the heroic acts of men and women whose courage and selflessness were manifest on that terrible day," he said. "Today we pause to remember and join in tribute to those whose lives were taken and to those who have carried on so bravely in their absence."
      The United States must not let down its guard, leaders cautioned.
      In New York for the Sept. 11 anniversary, Archbishop Carey told the Episcopal News Service that the pursuit of terrorists must continue. "We've got to carry on that war, and it is a war, against terrorism in every shape and form. It's not completed yet, and we've got a long way to go."
      The 50-member Catholic bishops' committee said there must be "firm resolve in defending innocent life and the common good against terrorism."
      The committee also cautioned against doing more harm.
      "In this necessary task, we must ensure restraint in the use of military force, insisting that traditional moral norms governing war and protecting the innocent must be observed," its statement said. In San Francisco, the Graduate Theological Union is asking religious leaders of all faiths to submit their sermons, prayers, hymns, poems and visual arts observing the Sept. 11 anniversary.
      David James Randolph, director of the National Sermon Project, said the worship services "will offer a testimony of historic proportions worthy of study and sharing." Submissions can be mailed to: The National Sermon Project, Suite 5400, 535 Pierce St., Albany, CA 94706.


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