From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Interfaith Alliance Responds to Southern Baptist Convention

From Worldwide Faith News <>
Date Mon, 17 Jun 2002 19:13:25 -0700

Comments on Islam

For Immediate Release
Friday, June 14, 2002

Melissa Schwartz, (202) 639-6370, 103
Cell: (202) 262-5547

The Interfaith Alliance Responds to Divisive Comments by the Southern
Baptist Convention Attacking Islam

  WASHINGTON - The Interfaith Alliance today spoke out in response to remarks
made by a Southern Baptist minister that attacked Islam and its foundations,
citing the attacks as an attempt to divide the religious community.

As reported by the Associated Press (6/12/02), Rev. Jerry Vines, a former
Southern Baptist convention president, told guests at a pastors' conference
on Monday that many of this country's problems can be blamed on religious
pluralism. Pluralists would have us to believe that Islam is just as good
as Christianity, but I'm here to tell you, ladies and gentlemen, that Islam
is not just as good as Christianity.

Vines, pastor of First Baptist Church of Jacksonville, Fla., reportedly told
several thousand delegates at the gathering in St. Louis that Islam was
founded by Muhammad, a demon-possessed pedophile who had 12 wives - and his
last one was a 9-year-old girl. And I will tell you Allah is not Jehovah
either. Jehovah's not going to turn you into a terrorist that'll try to bomb
people and take the lives of thousands and thousands of people.

Dr. David Currie, Executive Director of Texas Baptists Committed and a board
member with The Interfaith Alliance responded to Vines remarks with
dismay, As a Southern Baptist, I find Rev. Vines words to be grossly
inappropriate.  They demonstrate insensitivity to people of the Muslim faith
and to those Christians worldwide who are attempting to share Christ in
Muslim countries.  It is never appropriate to share Christ by insulting
another religion.

Rev. Vinesstatement opposing religious pluralism reflect a further
distancing of Southern Baptist leaders from historical Baptist traditions.
Historically, Baptists have been passionate supporters of religious liberty
and its corollaries of church/state separation and have had an appreciation
of pluralism, said the Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy, Executive Director of The
Interfaith Alliance, practicing Baptist pastor for over 40 years and former
member of the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention.  This
kind of comment from a religious leader perpetuates the image of
Christianity as a divisive force in our society rather than as a healing and
reconciling force.

I think it is always appropriate for people to speak of their understanding
of God, but it is offensive and audacious to presume an ability to define
someone elses deity, added Gaddy.

The Rev. Jack Graham, elected the conventions president on Tuesday, has
rejected calls to repudiate the remarks, saying the Rev. Jerry Vines
comments about Islam were accurate.


The Interfaith Alliance (TIA) is a non-partisan clergy-led grassroots
organization dedicated to promoting the positive and healing role of
religion in the life of the nation and challenging those who manipulate
religion to promote a narrow, divisive agenda.

Melissa Schwartz
Media Relations Director
The Interfaith Alliance
1012 14th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20005
(202) 639-6370,  ext. 103

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