News From Terre Haute, Indiana


September 11, 2013

Readers’ Forum: September 11, 2013

TERRE HAUTE — Work with rest

of the world

We rarely read or hear anything good concerning the Muslim faith. And it is true that there is a faction of that religion that has caused many problems, just as there is such a faction in Christianity. But it sometimes takes knowing someone of another faith to remind us of who we are.

An article in the May 2013 issue of Presbyterians Today, titled “Hugs that change the World,” reflects on the friendship of Rick Ufford-Chase and Sayyid Syeed

Rick Ufford-Chase was moderator of the 216th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) in 2004, when he met Dr. Sayyid Syeed. Ufford-Chase was one of the youngest moderators in recent PC(USA) history and was the first to serve for two years. Syeed was then general secretary of the Islamic Society of North America and was always interested in meeting Christians.

He was surprised that Presbyterians had elected someone so young (40 years), and he invited Rick to visit a mosque on the west side of Indianapolis.

Syeed arranged a reception and luncheon with about 50 guests to honor Ufford-Chase and met him with a bear hug. He said the Koran tells us we are to look for Christians who are full of compassion, mercy and kindness, Christians who are centered in their own faith yet committed to all of God’s people.

At the luncheon everyone cheered as Syeed and Ufford-Chase hugged, and this friendship has grown over the years.

I am reminded of the Interfaith Alliance which was started several years ago in Baltimore with a meeting of a Muslim, a Jew and a Christian. The Christian was Herbert Valentine, also a Presbyterian, and this organization is still active.

Today we seem to be more interested in our military power to offer us security than we are in making efforts to understand our cultural and religious differences with other countries. The March/April Newsletter of the Friends Committee on National Legislation states their view as follows: “Does cooperation with the rest of the world strengthen U.S. security? A majority of people in the U.S. agree that it does. In our view, military power and isolation may offer some protection for people within our national borders for a short period of time, but this protection comes with long-term costs to our country and world.”

Our military industrial complex has a very powerful lobby, which Dwight Elsenhower warned us about many years ago, but would it not be better to avoid war, with its terrific cost in lives and money, if possible, money that could be used to fight cancer or Alzheimer’s disease? It surely would be worth trying.

I suggest everyone read the article in the May issue of “Presbyterians Today” to learn more about this friendship, which gives us another view of the Muslim faith, something we hear little about today.

We do still need to be aware of our differences, especially those Muslims, or those of any faith who preach violence, but we need to be open to other faiths and cultures.

— Jane White


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