NASHVILLE, Tenn. – From Boston to the Bible Belt and from Beaumont to the nation’s beltway, Baptists and Muslims are changing history with the way they change each other.

Tired of being defined by extremists, some Baptists and Muslims in the United States have sought and found common ground: the common word in both traditions to love God and love neighbor. The courageous Baptists and Muslims in “Different Books, Common Word” will surprise you.


“Different Books, Common Word: Baptists and Muslims,” produced by, begins airing nationwide on ABC-TV stations Jan. 3, 2010, and continues through Feb. 28, 2010. Check your local listings for airtimes.


The hour-long documentary follows five stories of interfaith dialogue and action among Baptists and Muslims – two faith traditions often popularly characterized by their extremists.


Shooting on “Different Books, Common Word” began in January 2009, when 40 Baptist and 40 Muslim leaders gathered outside Boston for the first-ever national dialogue between the two Abrahamic faith traditions. Shooting continued for six months and covered stories in other locales:


  • 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.


Participants include:


  • Sayyid Syeed, national director, Office for Interfaith and Community Alliances, Islamic Society of North America;
  • Roy Medley, general secretary, American Baptist Churches USA;
  • Daoud Abudiab, president, Islamic Center of Columbia, Tenn.;
  • Kenny Anderson, pastor, Mount Calvary Missionary Baptist Church, Columbia, Tenn.;
  • Farhana Swati, managing director and co-owner, Pak Oil, Port Arthur, Texas, and CEO, Humanity Hope;
  • Sam Tolbert, pastor, Greater Saint Mary Missionary Baptist Church, Lake Charles, La.;
  • Orhan Osman, executive director, Institute of Interfaith Dialog, Oklahoma City;
  • Bruce Prescott, executive director, Mainstream Oklahoma Baptists;
  • Carol Richardson, associate pastor, First Baptist Church, Memphis, Tenn.;
  • Toni Campbell, assistant professor, Southwest Tennessee Community College;
  • and more than a dozen others.


“Different Books, Common Word: Baptists and Muslims” will be supplied by to ABC-TV stations beginning in January 2010 through an arrangement with the Islamic Society of North America, the Interfaith Broadcasting Commission and ABC-TV.


The documentary will simultaneously be available for purchase on DVD, which includes numerous extras. A free discussion guide will also be available for download at


“The Bible calls us to love our neighbors, not as a means of conversion, but because it’s the right thing to do,” said Robert Parham, executive editor of and the documentary’s co-producer/director.


“Viewers will be surprised to see new stories of respect and partnership that are emerging in the United States between goodwill Muslims and Baptists,” said Parham. “We hope these stories will begin to replace the negative ones about both Muslims and Baptists.”


“Our hope is also that this documentary will bring Baptists and Muslims together on the local level for conversations and community-building,” said Parham. “If Muslims and Baptists are peacemakers together in the United States, then they will show the rest of the world a better way and provide a challenge to follow to other Christians and Muslims.”


“Different Books, Common Word” is’s sixth production. Previous DVDs included examinations of Baptist-Jewish relations, global poverty, and faith and politics.’s most recent production was “Beneath the Skin: Baptists and Racism,” which won the best documentary award at the International Black Film Festival of Nashville in October 2008 and a similar award at the Cine-Fest Motion Picture Expo in Louisville in December 2008. It was accepted for screening at the San Diego Black Film Festival in January 2009 and was nominated for the best documentary award at the Texas Black Film Festival in February 2009.


It has also been used in countless churches and programs, including the American Baptist Churches USA biennial meeting in Pasadena, Calif., the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship general assembly in Houston, Texas, and various regional gatherings of the New Baptist Covenant.




Robert Parham



See video clips, publicity stills and more at

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