A documentary about Baptist-Muslim relationships will take a higher profile in the coming weeks with a pair of public screenings.
“Different Books, Common Word: Baptists and Muslims,” produced by EthicsDaily.com, will screen at First Baptist Church in Memphis in late September, followed by the documentary’s festival premiere in Nashville in early October.
First Baptist Church in Memphis will host a community screening of the documentary at 2 p.m. CT on Sunday, Sept. 26, in its fellowship hall. Members of Memphis’ Muslim community will be in attendance, and a post-viewing discussion will occur after the one-hour documentary. Admission is free and all are welcome.
Less than a week later, on Saturday, Oct. 2, “Different Books, Common Word” will make its festival premiere at the International Black Film Festival of Nashville. The screening is slated for 2 p.m. CT at Scarritt Bennett Center on the campus of Vanderbilt University. Individual tickets are $12.50, with 50 percent discounts for seniors, students and children.
The festival runs Sept. 29-Oct. 2. Full festival passes are $300.
“Different Books, Common Word: Baptists and Muslims,” produced and directed by Robert Parham and Cliff Vaughn, aired on more than 130 ABC-TV stations in January and February.
The hour-long documentary features five stories of Baptists and Muslims working together to advance the common good:
· Washington, D.C., where the Islamic Society of North America maintains an interfaith office;
· Oklahoma City and Norman, Okla., where Baptists and Muslims have developed friendships and humanitarian partnerships amid the legacy of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing that initially was blamed on Muslims;
· the Texas-Louisiana border, where a Baptist pastor and Muslim businesswoman have pooled resources for hurricane relief and other community needs;
· Memphis, Tenn., where a Baptist professor and Muslim medical physicist struck up what initially seemed an unlikely relationship to many; and
· Columbia, Tenn., where the Islamic center was firebombed in February 2008 by white supremacists, prompting various community responses.
Oscar-winning actor Denzel Washington saw the documentary when it aired in Los Angeles and spoke favorably about it on at least two different occasions – first during an interview on BET and then to Relevant magazine.
The Tennessee screenings are timely given recent events in the state.
The Islamic Center of Murfreesboro has been battling protests by some in the community 25 miles southeast of Nashville after it announced plans to build a new center in the city. In late August, construction equipment was set on fire at the proposed site, and the project itself remains a touchstone as national debate over the so-called “Ground Zero mosque” continues.
Then the former pastor of First Baptist Church in Joelton grabbed headlines by burning, with another pastor, two copies of the Quran on the ninth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.
“Goodwill Baptists must move beyond criticizing the incendiary actions of Christian clergy who burn or threaten to burn copies of the Quran to real substantive interfaith engagement,” said Robert Parham, executive director of the Baptist Center for Ethics. “Criticism is cheap. Interfaith dialogue can strengthen one’s own faith and create civility at the same time. It’s faith in action.”
The IBFFN accepted another EthicsDaily.com documentary, “Beneath the Skin: Baptists and Racism,” for its 2008 festival. It awarded “Beneath the Skin” the Best Documentary prize.