Traverse City Record-Eagle

Opinion

January 22, 2013

Forum: We are one people, but not the same

In a Jan. 15 forum concerning the removal of the Muslim "Call to Prayer" segment from a larger piece of music performed at a Traverse City church, retired judge Jim McCormick indicated that our community could benefit from an impassioned exchange of views, only if the writers would "get the facts straight, make appropriate distinctions, and then speak with real respect for others' feelings and opinions."

He went on to describe the call to prayer as lilting, haunting and passionate, and who could argue with him. Anyone who has heard the call could not help but pause and be moved by the lyrical cadence of the call. Of course, one could also say the same of the song "Bells of St. Mary." The rich tones of finely-crafted bells ringing out a favorite hymn or marking the hour are every bit as lilting, haunting.

But in this country everyone is entitled to reject such a call regardless of it's beauty. This is why we no longer build churches with bell towers.

Additionally, our Constitution protects the right of one to worship in the manner one chooses. This also means that a congregation may include or exclude content relative to their own beliefs. One would not expect to enter a mosque, for instance, and hear the Lord's prayer being recited. In fact, such an act would most likely incite a "call to violent reaction."

Finally, McCormick suggests that the Muslim call to prayer "may be seen as a solemn invitation to turn our hearts and minds toward God, the source of all that is, who is acknowledged by Christians, Jews and Muslims alike."

And once again, he is correct — all three traditions do have a belief in God, but ... do we have a belief in the same God? The answer here for Christians and Jews is a resounding "yes." There is no way around the fact that we worship the same God; but as to our Muslim brothers and sisters, well, the answer seems much less clear.

I would truly like to believe that we all worship the same God and that we could all live in peace and harmony. But this is hard to imagine while a Christian pastor is jailed in Iran for planting the Christian faith in homes. It is hard to imagine when thousands of Sudanese Christians face religious and ethnic cleansing. And it is hard to image Shari'ah law replacing "the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle," all peoples of this nation.

And even if this dream were possible I would not be compelled to add the Muslim call to prayer to my weekly liturgy; no more than I would have the Star of David hanging next to or in front of the cross. We may be "one people under God," but we remain individual and unique and we must allow for individual expression — by all parties.

About the author: The Rev. Daniel LeCouteur has been senior pastor of Family of Faith Lutheran Church since December of 1998. He is active in Big Brothers Big Sisters, Kiwanis, the Traverse Bay 912 Project and the Constitution Celebration Group.

About the forum: The forum is a periodic column of opinion written by Record-Eagle readers in their areas of interest or expertise. Submissions of 500 words or less may be made by e-mailing letters@record-eagle.com. Please include biographical information and a photo.

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