Muslims and the Cross

via one of my favorite Texans, I saw this on Street Prophets.

A. This is a huge violation of church and state in my opinion. Public schools should not be holding services in any religious space. Period.

B. The kid is a moron. It’s not about him being Muslim. Let’s not get stupid with him.

To the best of my knowledge there is no legal tradition that prevents Muslims from entering house of worship of other faiths. There are reservations (and prohibitions) about joint worship, but not actually entering the space. The closest I’ve heard about this religious image issue is from an Orthodox Jewish friend of mine who would not set foot in a church because of the cross. Of course, as commentators on the SP thread note, where are the limits of this ban? What of museum pieces? Churches turned into museum, a la Hagia Sophia? Clearly the intent and use of such iconography must be taken into account.

I have delivered talks in churches, but would not enter one of those churches during my graduation with my master’s in theology because it was a religious service. I have no problem with inter-faith worship, but I shouldn’t be forced to worship, either in my own faith tradition, or any others. However, in that context, the cross was a powerful religious symbol that marginalized me and my faith. My decision was not based on a systematic legal ruling, but a personal decision made for my particular context. There was no reason to make a public issue it, other than to discuss it with administrators so they were aware.

I feel bad for the boy, but he can’t make his Islam my Islam, and he shouldn’t minimize our faith and personalize an issue that is bigger than him.

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One thought on “Muslims and the Cross

  1. This is what happens when people — any people — believe they have exclusive access to the truth. I agree this kid is an idiot, and sadly, the ACLU continues its downward slide in defending the purported rights of exclusivists. I can’t tell you how much I regret the years I spent supporting that organization. CAIR, the litigation arm of the Muslim Brotherhood, can’t be far behind since CAIR often advises the ACLU on “Muslim issues.”
    On the subject of interfaith worship and entering the religious spaces of other religions, I have a different view on the subject. I go well beyond mere tolerance of differences to absolute acceptance of the validity of each religious tradition as a path to God. My Muslim 9-yr old son attends Catholic school, and I have no problem with him saying Catholic prayers in a church or elsewhere (especially when all the other (Catholic) kids share his boredom with the Lenten practices). The differences between Catholicism and our own religion also make for good theological discussion when we read Qur’an together on Sunday mornings. One point is that I never claim is that one religion is “right” and the “other” wrong –merely different, and God will decide between us. Were I to object to Catholic education, the solution would be obvious – don’t send my son to Catholic school. But it goes beyond that for me. I also have a Catholic wife, and we have had no problem attending each other’s services. For reasons of principle, I attend only mosques that permit women to pray in the same room, which is more comfortable for my wife. In Salafist Muslim America, of course, those mosques are few and far between. I’ve not run into any issues like that in a church, but I hear some churchs are thinking about heading in that direction.

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