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Thursday, 23 April 2009

But we are brothers, sisters in faith, say others

Andrew West

Christians in south-western Sydney should not fear an Islamic school and understand that Muslims share many Christian values, says a prominent religious leader.

The Reverend Glenda Blakefield, the associate general secretary of the Uniting Church's national assembly, said Christians, Muslims and Jews were all "people of the book" who shared a common heritage descended from Abraham.

Ms Blakefield is a veteran of the interfaith movement and has used the church to bring together Jewish and Muslim representatives.

The Vatican refers to Christians and Muslims as "cousins in the Abrahamic faith" and Pope John Paul II called Jews the "older brothers" of Christians.

Ms Blakefield said Christians did not have to compromise their faith to enjoy warm relations with other religions. "This is a fear many Christians have," she told the Herald. "But it is not well founded. We do not ever compromise our core conviction that Jesus Christ is the centre of our faith. The Muslims I talk to would not expect it and they would not compromise their core beliefs, either."

Instead, she called on the Anglican, Presbyterian and Baptist churches in Camden to recognise their "common humanity" with Muslims.

But other Christian leaders sympathised with the Camden churches.

The moderator of the Presbyterian Church in NSW, the Right Reverend Bruce Meller, said the charter of his church opposed "persecuting and intolerant principles" directed at Muslims. "But we are a Christian organisation and we want to see the teachings of Jesus being pre-eminent."

This article was originally published in the Sydney Morning Herald on 23 April 2009.