The United Church in Central Alberta hopes that the anniversary of 9/11, which this year falls close to the Muslim celebration of the end of Ramadan, might be a time for us to draw together with our Muslim neighbours in relationships of mutual respect.
We were appalled by the anti-Muslim sentiment building around this year’s anniversary and are relieved that some of the extremists seem to be backing away from their provocative actions. We believe that extremism simply breeds more extremism and extremists from both religions have more in common with each other than with either Jesus or Mohammed.
Actions which show extreme disrespect for another group of people violate the teaching of Jesus, who taught us to love our neighbour and offered us the example of a despised foreigner as the model for the neighbours we are called to love. If he were to retell the story today Jesus might well use a Muslim instead of a Samaritan as the example.
Our church has a long history of good working relationships with Muslims in Canada and in 2006 adopted a policy statement that committed our church to “a journey of reconciliation with Muslim neighbours.”
We have written to the Muslim community in Red Deer, inviting a dialogue on how we might work together to reduce intolerance and promote mutual respect, peace and justice.
Rev. Ross Smillie
Acting chair, Red Deer Presbytery
The United Church of Canada