Sunday, 29 November -0001 19:00

Bush Urged to Repudiate Southern Baptists' Slam of Muhammad

Written by Rev. H.A. Bergsma
A prominent Southern Baptist's description of the Muslim prophet Muhammad as a "demon possessed pedophile" ratcheted up the tension this week between Christian and Muslim groups that were already hostile toward each other as a result of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. When President Bush addressed the recent Southern Baptist Convention's (SBC) annual meeting in St. Louis, he praised the group for upholding the ideals of religious tolerance and civility. "Baptists have had an extraordinary influence on American history," Bush said. "They were among the earliest champions of religious tolerance and freedom. Baptists have long upheld the ideal of a free church in a free state. And from the beginning, they believed that forcing a person to worship against his will violated the principles of both Christianity and civility." However, comments made by Rev. Jerry Vines, the former president of the SBC, showed him to be neither tolerant nor civil, according to critics. Vines reportedly told several thousand delegates to the convention that many of the country's religious problems could be blamed on "religious pluralism." "They would have us believe that Islam is just as good as Christianity," Vines was quoted as saying. "Christianity was founded by the virgin-born Son of God, Jesus Christ. Islam was founded by Muhammad, a demon-possessed pedophile who had 12 wives, the last one of which was a 9-year-old girl." Vines went on to say that Christianity would never produce terrorists like those responsible for the September 11 attacks. The comments drew immediate criticism from groups demanding a correction from SBC leaders. Instead, newly elected SBC President Rev. Jack Graham, called Vines' comments "an accurate statement," and the outgoing president of the SBC, Dr. James Merritt, agreed that Vines' comments were appropriate. "Historically, he is on solid ground," Merritt said. Ralph Neas, president of People for the American Way Foundation, called on President Bush to reject the statements by Vines. "President Bush should repudiate SBC leaders' rejection of the American tradition of religious pluralism and their appeals to bigotry," Neas said. "At a time when President Bush has called Americans to unity, he should not be embracing leaders whose message is grounded in sowing division." (From CNS News ÐReligion Today)

LetÕs hope that President Bush does not cave in to such pressure, especially as you see how the other side treats the Christian religion (see next item).

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