The Words of the Stallings Family

Christian Ministers Unite To Decry Denigration Of Prophet

George Augustus Stallings
March 17, 2006

To: National Desk, Op-Ed Editor

Contact: Rev. Phillip Schanker, the for American Clergy Leadership Conference,

WASHINGTON, March 17 /U.S. Newswire/ -- Following is a op-ed by Archbishop George Augustus Stallings, national co-president, American Clergy Leadership Conference, archbishop and founder, Imani Temple African-American Catholic Congregation, Washington, DC:

Christian Ministers Unite to Decry Denigration of Prophet

"The recent cartoon denigration of the messenger of Allah, Muhammad (peace be upon him) by a Danish newspaper has unleashed a furor in the Islamic world of dramatic proportions. Why could journalism not have been more circumspect in taking on such a behemoth?

"Man's inhumanity toward man is most often expressed in acts committed out of philosophical and religious ignorance. What is sacred to one believer may have no special significance to an adherent of another faith. When one crosses the line and disrespectfully treads upon the sanctum sanctorum of another man's belief, rationality is jettisoned and ruminating about what could have been avoided is an exercise in futility.

"The American Clergy Leadership Conference (ACLC), which is rapidly becoming the nation's largest inter-religious and interracial coalition of Christian ministers, has taken the high road in an effort to bring about greater civility, sensitivity and awareness among Muslims, Jews and Christians. The organization has brought thousands of inter-religious clergy to visit Israel and Gaza in more than a dozen delegations over the past 3 years to interface with the children of Abraham in constructive dialogue, leading participants to a greater understanding and appreciation of each other's faith. It should now be obvious that lasting peace requires more than weapons, walls and diplomacy. It is tragic when religion engenders such conflict, for the true practice of the teachings of our great faith traditions would lead each of us to be peacemakers.

"We most certainly cannot condone in any way, shape or form the acts of violence and destruction that have arisen in reaction to the insensitive caricatures. Yet, it is unreasonable to expect cool heads to prevail in the current crisis when that which is most sacred and reverentially honored by some is counted as politically exploitative by others.

"Sacred images are inviolable because they belong to the household of Faith. To infringe upon the sacred heritage or religious icons of another is to open oneself to the most intense demonstrations of retaliation imaginable. To tamper or mess with another tradition's deity, especially its messenger, is tantamount to a sacrilegious and blasphemous act. It denigrates that which is holy and reverent in the eyes of the believer. Freedom of speech or of the press provide no shelter in such a forum. They must yield and bow to the altar of the sacrosanct. Sacred decorum requires that we not violate the religious sensibilities of others or cavalierly manipulate that which is the sole proprietorship of those who may think and act differently than we do.

"It is indeed a human tragedy that the sincere efforts to increase tolerance and understanding since 9/11 are now being subjugated to the whimsical miscalculations or uncontrolled passions of a few - be they the press or in the general public. The bottom line is: you do not trivialize or make mockery of another's religion or sacred icons and symbols. When you denigrate or malign others' race, faith or ethnicity, whether intentionally or out of ignorance it often leads to the consequences we now witness. The scripture says you will reap what you have sown.

"We issue a call from Jerusalem to all religious leaders of good will -- Muslims, Christians and Jews -- to come forward to demonstrate faith that brings respect and dignity for all. The conclusion of yet another inter-religious pilgrimage reminds us once again of the urgent need for dialogue and understanding on all sides. ACLC calls upon faith leaders to sow such seeds of love and respect that will bring healing to the land."

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