Here’s something you don’t hear often.
According to the Mirror, a Christian church in Britain recently considered covering up its crosses and a picture of Jesus in order for Muslims to pray there in observance of Ramadan.
The tossed-around idea was volleyed on May 9th at the St. Matthew and St. Luke’s church in Darlington.
The Times reports:
They were told that a cross and a well-known devotional image of Jesus, a copy of The Light of the World by the pre-Raphaelite artist William Holman Hunt, would be covered up. The plans were discussed at a meeting held at the church on May 9 attended by the Rev Lissa Scott, the priest in charge, and Gerald Lee, a former mayor of Darlington who seeks to boost racial harmony through a group called Celebrating Communities.
Two notes from the meeting read as follows:
One aisle in church to be cleared of chairs for Muslim men to say prayers.
Cover Christian crosses/photographs in small rooms for ladies to say prayers.
I guess they were tryin’ to celebrate diversity.
But the Diocese of Durham got word of the scheme and gave it the ol’ kibosh. It let ’em know church law prohibits acts of worship by non-Christians in a Church of England building.
A spokesperson expounded:
“While it is vital to build good interfaith relations, it is clear that an act of worship from a non-Christian faith tradition is not permitted within a consecrated Church of England building. This is a legal position outlined in Canons B1/2/3 and B5 Section 3 where it states: ‘all forms of service used under this Canon shall be reverent and seemly and shall be neither contrary to, nor indicative of any departure from, the doctrine of the Church of England in any essential matter’.
Another critic of the idea was Episcopal Bishop Gavin Ashenden, erstwhile chaplain to the Queen:
“When Muslims come into our church, we invite them to come in and respect Jesus. If we accepted an invitation to go into a mosque, we would respect Muhammad.”
Despite the assertions of some, Gavin believes Christianity and Islam make very strange bedfellows:
“Islam and Christianity are not Abrahamic cousins in Middle Eastern religion. They’re actually antithetic to each other.”
But the community event will still go on — prayers will be said in a nearby building, with everyone coming together at St. Matthew and St. Luke’s for a celebratory meal.
A house of worship welcoming all people is a good thing. It may even be said to be a critical thing. But covering up the faith of the congregation isn’t exactly letting your light shine. A consecrated British church tried to hide it under a bushel in the name of unity. And they’re not the only ones — see the 2nd video below.
We’re living in very, very strange times.
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