Evangelical Christians Seek Respectful Dialogue With Muslims

April 10, 2004

Source: The Washington Post


On April 10, 2004 The Washington Post reported, "Nearly a year ago, evangelical Christian leaders gathered in Washington to try to moderate their rhetoric toward Islam and begin a more respectful, positive dialogue with Muslims around the world. This week, a handful of evangelical ministers announced the first fruit of that effort, a plan to put on a Christian music festival, establish humanitarian relief projects and hold a theological conference in Morocco. The goal, they said, is not to proselytize but to break down hostile images. 'We have stereotypes of Muslims, and they certainly do of conservative Christians. They're both caricatures we need to dispense with,' said the Rev. Richard Cizik, vice president for government affairs at the Washington-based National Association of Evangelicals. The meeting of about 40 evangelical leaders last May followed highly publicized statements by the Rev. Franklin Graham, son of evangelist Billy Graham, that Islam was an 'evil' religion, and by the Rev. Jerry Vines, a past president of the Southern Baptist Convention, that Muhammad was a 'pedophile.' 'We don't want the whole Islamic world to think that a couple of spokesmen, though well-intentioned perhaps, speak for everyone. We're taught to love people,' said the Rev. Harry L. Thomas, a Medford, N.J., producer of Christian concerts. 'I don't know anyone who has been won over by hate talk. We prefer to reach out and build some bridges.'"