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Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Koran Reading in Glasgow Church ‘Denigrated Jesus,’ says Queen’s Chaplain

Bishop 'distressed' by row following Qur'an reading at cathedral
David Chillingworth of Scottish Episcopal Church says he regrets widespread abuse received by St Mary’s Cathedral

The Qur’an reading lead to a backlash with the cathedral saying it had received offensive messages on social media. Photograph: Alamy

Harriet Sherwood Religion correspondent, Guardian

The leader of the Scottish Anglican church has said he was deeply distressed at the widespread offence caused by a reading from the Qur’an at a service to mark the feast of the Epiphany at St Mary’s Cathedral in Glasgow.

David Chillingworth, the bishop of St Andrews, Dunkeld and Dunblane, and primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, said in a statement: “We also deeply regret the widespread abuse which has been received by the cathedral community.” He has launched a review of interfaith work.

His comments followed a row over the inclusion in the service of passages from the Qur’an read in Arabic from the cathedral’s lectern by a local Muslim student. The cathedral said it was part of efforts to build relationships between Christians and Muslims in Glasgow.

The student, Madinah Javed, 19, read from the book of Maryam, which tells the story of Jesus’s birth. It includes the Islamic teaching that Jesus was not the son of God. Muslims, however, revere Jesus as a prophet.

The reading triggered a backlash. The former bishop of Rochester, Michael Nazir-Ali, said: “Christians should know what their fellow citizens believe and this can include reading the Qur’an for themselves, whether in the original or in translation.

“This is not, however, the same thing as having it read in church in the context of public worship. The authorities of the Scottish Episcopal Church should immediately repudiate this ill-advised invitation and exercise appropriate discipline for those involved.”

The church's reading from the Koran for its Epiphany service has been criticized by the Queen’s chaplain, who said the reading was inappropriate because Christians are “suffering dreadful persecution at the hands of Muslims in the Middle East.”

The cathedral said it had become the target of offensive messages on social media, which it reported to the police.

A Police Scotland spokesman said last week: “We can confirm we are investigating reports of offensive comments made towards St Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral in Glasgow and inquiries are ongoing. Police Scotland will not tolerate any form of hate and encourages all communities to work together to ensure no one feels threatened or marginalised.”

The cathedral’s provost, Kelvin Holdsworth, defended the reading, saying similar events had “happened a number of times in the past in this and in other churches, and have led to deepening friendships locally, to greater awareness of the things we hold in common and to dialogue about the ways in which we differ”.

The statement from the bishop said the Scottish Episcopal Church had a long commitment to interfaith work. “Over many years, we have sought to develop friendship, understanding and mutual respect between our Christian faith and the other great world religions,” he said.

Chillingworth added: “Those who seek to work in the area of interfaith relationships must weigh carefully whether the choices which they make are appropriate or otherwise.

“In today’s world, those judgments must give careful consideration to good relationships which have been carefully nurtured over many years in a local context. They must also weigh carefully the way in which national and international issues shape perceptions of what is appropriate or inappropriate.

“The decisions which have led to the situation in St Mary’s Cathedral are a matter for the provost and the cathedral community, but the Scottish Episcopal Church is deeply distressed at the widespread offence which has been caused.”

Chillingworth said the church would bring together “all those who are involved in the development of interfaith relations ... to explore how, particularly in the area of worship, this work can be carried forward in ways which will command respect”.

It's curious, none of these statements contain any reference to what Jesus might think of this mess. Chillingworth and Holdsworth seem only concerned about what people might think or do and how this might damage interfaith relationships. But to read a passage from the Quran that denies the deity of Jesus from the pulpit during a 'worship' service is utter blasphemy. Who, or what were they worshiping? It certainly was not Jesus Christ, the Son of God!

What a disappointment that neither the Provost nor the Bishop seemed concerned about what God thinks. Their excessive concern for Muslims is not unlike the Police and Council of Rotherham who sacrificed 1400 girls, most of them many times over, on the altar of political correctness. 

Then there is the matter of truth. Is the Bible true? Do Chillingworth and Holdsworth actually believe what the Bible says? If they did, how can they give equal weight to the Quran when it clearly contradicts the Bible? 

Jesus came, among other things, to complete the Law so the world could live under 'grace' not under the Law. Mohammed, on the other hand, came to put the world back under the Law, and a distorted version of the Law. The point is, either the Bible is true and the Quran false, or the Quran is true and the Bible is false. You can't preach them both!

Both the Bishop and the Provost need to get on their knees and get in touch with God, or they should resign their posts and go into social work.