Saturday, November 15, 2014

Muslims in the Church, two different responses

Earlier this month it came to light that a Serbian parish had allowed their hall to be used by Muslims with the permission of the parish priest, Fr. Cedomir Videkanic. The Muslims covered up icons and other obviously Christian objects with their own items. Public outrage ensued and the priest was suspended.

Compare that to the story of the National Cathedral used as a location for a Muslim service this week. Unsurprisingly, a Christian was able to sneak in and speak out against this atrocity. Some might claim that we need to be tolerant. Tolerance isn't syncretism or capitulation. Tolerance certainly isn't using a space set aside for the worship of Christ as God by a group that explicitly denies His divinity. A church is a sacrifice to God. Inviting strange fire would seem ill-advised.

( - Without prejudice or judgement, but mindful of a serious transgression which has eventuated as a result of gross mismanagement of Church property on the part of its warden, in this case a parish priest, the Very Reverend Protopresbyter-Stavrophor Cedomir Videkanic is suspended from all liturgical and administrative functions at the Parish of St Stephen the Archdeacon in Keysborough and the Melbourne Deanery of the Metropolitanate of Australia and New Zealand, from this moment and until such time as a full and thorough investigation of what transpired reveals why this was allowed to happen. In the interim, the Reverend Presbyter Dejan Milosevic will assume all administrative and liturgical duties.

With due respect accorded to all faiths and their adherents, it will be understood that the Holy Canons of the Orthodox Church forbid the performance of religious rituals by those of other faith traditions, within our ecclesiastical and associated structures. Furthermore, Orthodox Christians are bound by the Canons to re-consecrate such places should such an unfortunate thing come to pass. Therefore, tomorrow on the 6th of November at 1:00pm, the undersigned together with available members of the Serbian Orthodox Clergy and faithful will gather for a service of sanctification in the Hall of St Stephen’s Church Community.

Any insinuation or assertion that a higher instance, be it myself personally, any member of the clergy or Metropolitanate Executive Board gave permission or sanctioned this transgression is completely false.

Bishop of the Metropolitanate of Australia and New Zealand

In Sydney, 5 November 2014
Holy Apostle James, First Bishop of Jerusalem
And also...
(Reuters) - The first Muslim prayer service ever hosted at the National Cathedral, a landmark Christian church in the U.S. capital, was briefly interrupted on Friday by a lone anti-Islamic protester but the religious gathering continued with a theme of tolerance.

The outburst came as dozens of Muslims knelt on prayer rugs below walls of stained glass and stone archways. The protester, a woman from Michigan who declined to give her name, managed to sneak into the tightly secured, invite-only service and interrupt the introduction.

"Jesus Christ is on that cross over there," she yelled. "Get out of our church. Leave our church alone."

The woman was physically removed from the prayer service by a reverend and cathedral police, and the service got underway.

Ebrahim Rasool, the South African ambassador to the United States, who is Muslim, gave a sermon that preached religious freedom and condemned Muslim extremists as a dangerous threat to the world.

"They invade lands, behead journalists, execute civilians and declare war on anyone different to them," he said.

Rasool and the National Cathedral's Reverend Canon Gina Campbell organized the service, with help from the All Dulles Area Muslim Society, Council on American-Islamic Relations, Islamic Society of North America, Muslim Public Affairs Council and The Nation's Mosque.

Campbell welcomed the religious gathering, saying the Washington National Cathedral was "a place of prayer for all people.

"Let us stretch our hearts and let us seek to deepen mercy for we worship the same God," she said.

Since 1907, the Neo-Gothic Episcopal church has been used for state funerals for three presidents, and a number of presidential prayer services. It also has hosted services for noted diplomats and dignitaries.

Organizers said they hoped the service on a Friday, when Muslims traditionally gather for prayers, would foster interfaith understanding and tolerance.

After the service, outside the church, the protester said she was not arrested, and was not harmed in the altercation. She did not explain why she disrupted the service.

"I didn't do it for myself," she said. "I did it for the Lord."

The protester was not alone in denouncing the Muslim prayer service at the National Cathedral. Reverend Franklin Graham, the son of U.S. evangelist Billy Graham who is one of America's foremost Christian leaders, took to his Facebook page on Thursday to criticize the plan to host the gathering.


  1. An Orthodox church is by definition a church; the large structure in D.C. is said to be Anglican, and it canonicity is dubious. Please don't refer to it as "the National Cathedral"; we have no national church.

    1. I'm just calling it what it's called. :) There are a lot of people, places, and things I'd relabel according to my own opinion if I could.