Bahai News - Faith leaders temper anger with perspective
ept. 18, 2001
Faith leaders temper anger with perspective
Some call for a pacifist stance, while others say hate canít be a
motive for retaliation
By Linda Leicht
As Americans waved flags and sang patriotic songs over the past week,
some have called for a more restrained response to terrorist attacks on
New York and Washington.
Pleas for restraint and justice came from Pope John Paul II, former
South African President Nelson Mandela and even Cuban President Fidel
That, however, is a minority view: Recent polls show most Americans
believe the United States should retaliate, even if innocent people die
in the process.
Theresa Stocker of Springfield was one of those people. Then she
heard Father Dennis Doughertys sermon Saturday at St.
Josephs Catholic Church.
He told us to take a look at what we might have done to cause
this, Stocker said. The priest called on the congregation to ask
God to guide the country to find a way to rectify the situation without
going to war.
I probably feel like the majority of Americans, Stocker
said. We should just go over and bomb them.
It was the words of her priest that made her stop and think
... to not be so vengeful, Stocker said.
Dougherty wasnt the only Ozarks minister offering that
message to filled churches this weekend.
The Rev. J. Rod Kelley is a retired Navy chaplain and the pastor of
Ozark United Methodist Church.
This horrible tragedy was hatched and implemented in hearts
that were filled with darkness, anger, revenge and bigotry, he
told his congregation. If we allow this act to create anger,
revenge and bigotry in our hearts then we are like those who did
Father Andrew Moore at St. Thomas the Apostle Orthodox Mission said
the Bible addresses responding to attack, but we must retaliate
with resolve and not with hate. ... If we incorporate hate into our
resolve, we become the terrorists. We have to keep ourselves from
The church has had services all week since the terrorist attacks,
Moore said. His messages have focused on love.
We have to keep fleeing back to Christ who loves all of
humanity, he told his congregation, even despite that which
is most horrible about us, most fallen. Christ never ceased to love
Rabbi Rita Sherwin also spoke of a God who loves all mankind.
We need to be on guard so as not to blame an entire group of
people for the actions of a few, she told a congregation of Jews
and non-Jews at Temple Israel on Friday night.
Park Crest Assembly of God had more people in church Sunday than on
Easter, said its pastor, the Rev. Scott Temple. Temple also stressed the
message that God doesnt hate anybody including
those who were denounced by religious leaders Jerry Falwell and Pat
Robertson, who called the attack Gods retribution for feminism,
abortion, homosexuality and the American Civil Liberties Union.
I disagree with those who conclude that this reveals
Gods judgment on America, Temple said. Instead, he said the
attack was made by people who are angry with America for our stand
with Israel. ... That is a righteous stand in Gods
Father Ken Chumbley, rector at Christ Episcopal Church, made some
special comments to his congregation Sunday.
Christians of deep faith and good will have differing
opinions on what should be the response of this country to those
barbaric acts of terrorism, he said. But he hopes the response
will lead to an understanding of the underlying causes of
terrorism ... poverty, injustice, despair.
Dr. Roger Ray, pastor at National Avenue Christian Church, told the
large crowd in church Sunday that comments like Falwells and
Robertsons are an effort to co-opt the energy and the
His sermon called on the country to use statesmanship, not attack,
a stand that did garner some negative response from the community and
I hope that there will be some deepening of character in
response to this, he said.
Carl Haworth of the local Bahai community shared that hope.
Bahai principals are not pacifist, but encompass the belief that
response to the attack should be made on a world stage, he said.
The governments of the world should come together as a
body, said Haworth, an Army veteran with service time in
The small community met Sunday and talked about the attacks. Its
a topic thats on everybodys mind, Haworth said.
The pagan community has also responded to the issue. Our
rage, terror and confusion at having been attacked can generate enormous
energies that can, with a little thought, be converted to constructive
and healing energies, the Rev. Pat Allgeier with the Greenleaf
Coven said in a written statement.
She called on people to become more aware of the struggles of rest
of the world. A little respect and consideration goes a long
way, she said.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.
©Copyright 2001, The Springfield News-Leader
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