Islamic and Christian leaders reacted critically to statements made at the Southern Baptist Convention meeting that the revered founder of Islam was a “demon-possessed pedophile.”
Former SBC president Jerry Vines told pastors “Islam was founded by Muhammad, a demon-possessed pedophile who had 12 wives, and his last one was a 9-year-old girl.” The pastors applauded, the Houston Chronicle reported.
Vines, pastor of First Baptist Church of Jacksonville, Fla., blamed religious pluralism for America’s problems and implied that Allah was the source of terrorism.
Ingrid Mattson, vice president of the Islamic Society of North America, called his comments “medieval,” according to Associated Press.
Such statements could lead to violence against Muslims, she said. “It makes me wonder what’s the hateful religion right now that we should be worried about.”
Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations, said that Vines’ remarks could hurt Americans abroad and harm missionaries.
Eric Vickers, executive director of the American Muslim Council in St. Louis, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that Vines’ statements “are offensive to Muslims, Jews and Christians.”
“We need to educate him and pray for him,” Vickers said.
The president of the Islamic Center of Northeast Florida, Shakur Bolden, told the Times-Union that Vines statements were unfair.
“We don’t let the bad eggs define our way of life,” Bolden said, “just as he would not let the Ku Klux Klan or the IRA [Irish Republican Army] or other fanatic Christian organizations define mainstream Christianity.”
Muslims weren’t the only ones that questioned Vines’ remarks.
Frank Ruff, a representative of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to the SBC, said Vines’ comments would hurt the SBC.
“It is shortsighted because they will have less credibility,” Ruff told the Chronicle. “I would expect the derogatory remarks about Islam would increase hostility of Muslims toward Christianity.”
The Chronicle reported that an Islamic studies professor at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth called for caution. Samuel Shahid said Vines’ comments could hurt foreign missionaries.
Al Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, declined to comment on the charges of pedophilia, according to the Forth Worth Star-Telegram. Mohler said he did not know enough about Muhammad to comment.