(RNS) Religious and human rights activists are asking U.S. churches to invite Jewish and Muslim clergy to their sanctuaries to read from sacred texts next month in an initiative designed to counter anti-Muslim bigotry.
The June 26 initiative, called “Faith Shared: Uniting in Prayer and Understanding,” is co-sponsored by the Interfaith Alliance and Human Rights First. Leaders of the two Washington-based groups said the event hopes to demonstrate respect for Islam in the wake of Quran burnings in recent months.
“As a Christian minister who is a pastor in a local congregation, it is important to me for our nation and our world to know that not all Christians promote hate, attack religions different from their own and seek to desecrate the scripture of others,” said the Rev. Welton Gaddy, president of the Interfaith Alliance, on Tuesday (May 17).
More than 50 churches in 26 states already have committed to the initiative, including the Washington National Cathedral and New York’s Riverside Church.
Tad Stahnke, director of policy and programs for Human Rights First, said he hopes the initiative will draw attention to religious freedom, and counter negative stereotypes of Christian leaders making anti-Muslim statements.
“We want to send a message to the world that Americans do respect religious differences and reject religious bigotry and the demonization of Islam or any other religion,” he said.