US churches welcome Obama's global message to Muslims

By agency reporter
5 Jun 2009

Senior staff of the National Council of Churches USA have praised President Obama's address to Muslims throughout the world delivered yesterday (4 June 2009) and have renewed the Council's commitment to friendship and dialogue with Muslim people of faith.

The Rev Dr Michael Kinnamon, the General Secretary of NCCUSA and Dr Antonios Kireopoulos, Senior Programme Director for Interfaith Relations, said they were gratified by the President's declaration in Cairo that Muslims share with all Americans common principles of "justice and progress, tolerance and the dignity of all human beings."

In a letter to Dr Ingrid Mattson, President of the Islamic Society of North America and Dr Sayyid Syeed, ISNA's national director of interfaith and community alliances, the American church leaders said they were "moved to contact you old friends to express a similar recommitment to friendship and dialogue."

"The 35 member communions of the National Council of Churches, representing millions whose devotion to God is expressed through their faith in Jesus Christ, have long recognized the commonalities we share as children of Abraham with Muslims and Jews," said the NCCUSA letter, sent on 4 June.

"As President Obama said today, God’s vision is that the people of the world can live together in peace. Allow us to respond by declaring that we share his view and we echo his sense of calling: 'Now, that must be our work here on earth.'

The text of the letter in full reads as follows:

June 4, 2009

Dr. Ingrid Mattson, President
Dr. Sayyid Syeed, National Director for the Office of Interfaith and Community Alliances
Islamic Society of North America
Plainfield, Ind.

Dear Ingrid and Sayyid,

I am sure you share our gratification over President Obama’s call in Cairo today for “a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world.”

The President called for a relationship based on the reality that Islam and the United States share common principles of “justice and progress; tolerance and the dignity of all human beings.”

Particularly gratifying to us was the fact that Mr. Obama testified to his own experience as a Christian with Muslim communities around the world and paid tribute to civilization’s debt to Islam.

Of course, these are not new sentiments or a new American policy. Mr. Obama’s declaration that “Islam is a part of America” was recognized and often stated by other US Presidents. But Mr. Obama’s decision to make America’s relationship with Islam the topic of a major address in a major Arab capital has amplified the message around the globe.

As we listened to the President’s address this morning, we were moved to contact you old friends to express a similar recommitment to friendship and dialogue.

The 35 member communions of the National Council of Churches, representing millions whose devotion to God is expressed through their faith in Jesus Christ, have long recognized the commonalities we share as children of Abraham with Muslims and Jews. As President Obama said today, God’s vision is that the people of the world can live together in peace. Allow us to respond by declaring that we share his view, and we echo his sense of calling: “Now, that must be our work here on earth.”

May God’s blessings be on us all.

Sincerely,

Michael Kinnamon
General Secretary

Antonios Kireopoulos
Senior Program Director for Interfaith Relations

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