A Church of Scotland minister has spoken of the backlash he suffered when he opened his church for Muslim Friday prayers after the local mosque was firebombed.
Rev Ian Taylor opened his Bishopbriggs church after the local Islamic centre was badly damaged in the attack last November. But a parishioner reported him to his local presbytery, a colleague criticised him and he was targeted online from the US.
It’s not the only time ministers have been criticised for offering their churches for Muslim use.
Last March the vicar of St John’s church, Waterloo, was forced to apologise for an inter-faith worship event. Giles Goddard opened his church for Muslim prayers but was told by the Bishop of Southwark he had infringed Church of England guidelines. He said: “I remain committed to finding ways for Christians and Muslims to acknowledge our shared heritage and history, without minimising the uniqueness of both our traditions.”
The two situations are very different, as we’ll see. But should Christian churches ever be used for Muslim prayers?
How Muslims and Christians relate to each other is a very vexed question at the moment. In the US, Wheaton College got into a terrible tangle over the Larycia Hawkins case, in which the college didn’t seem to know how to handle a professor who said Christians and Muslims “worship the same God”.
And, of course, the issue’s complicated by the present geopolitical situation in which Middle Eastern Muslims are targeting Christians for expulsion and massacre (though most victims have been other Muslims).