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Should Christians Lend Their Churches to Muslim Worshipers?

This is a question that at least two American churches have faced of late: should Christians lend their churches to Muslim worshipers for prayer? 

According to one Christian, they should: 

In Alexandria, Va., a local Islamic center decided to build its own mosque. In the meantime, it asked the Aldersgate Methodist Church if it could use its building for Friday prayers.

“I feel like we are embodying Christianity by being welcoming,” said Diane Bechtol, a member of Aldersgate Methodist….

Bechtol said she does not think sharing worship space compromises her faith.

“Jesus called us to give hospitality to strangers. To feed the poor and help the sick and this is walking the walk,” she added.

But according to another, Christians should not lend their spaces to Muslim worshipers:

“It is not self-evident that this duty to love your neighbor requires us to provide property for false worship,” said Jason B. Hood, a writer for Christianity Today.

Hood also pointed out that good works should not lead other believers to stumble.

One point that Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the Somalian Muslim-turned-Atheist, made in her must-read book “Nomad: From Islam to America” was that Christianity could serve as an antidote to radical Islam: 

In “Nomad,” what I try to do is encourage other religions, especially Christianity, but also humanists, atheists, to take their ideas and values to the marketplace of ideas and try actively to convert the young demographic of Muslims on whose minds now only radical Islamic agents have a monopoly.

To Hirsi Ali, Christianity at its best has internalized several virtues that radical Islam shuns: open mindedness, tolerance, and a successful separation of political and religious power.

By lending their spaces to Muslim worshipers, Christians are certainly putting into practice several of those virtues, and more–something to celebrate, I think, don’t you? 

  1. Not JMR

    Uhhh… no? Inviting Muslims to worship in a Christian church is demeaning to both Islam and Christianity in the sense that it lumps them together as just two flavors of some wacky thing called religion. The advocates of this sort of thing, I suspect, are themselves irreligious. We’re talking about mutually exclusive belief systems here! It cannot be the goal of a reasonable Muslim to help a Christian study Christianity, or vice versa.

    Note that this is very different from other charitable activities that both religions engage in. Christians should, and regularly do, provide assistance to others regardless of their beliefs by building hospitals, schools, churches, etc. But they don’t–and should not be asked to–build mosques.

  2. Denise Moss
    C

    While the temple I belong to was being built, all our services were conducted in the Lutheran church next door.  Not one member of the temple “stumbled” into Christianity (as Mr. Hood refers to it) during that time.  Of course Ayaan Hirsi Ali is hoping just for that.  None the less, the Muslim world needs as much exposure to Western Christian-Judeo thought as possible.  Open your doors.  

  3. Nick Stuart

    No. There is a clear implication of moral equivalence, and theological equivalence, shown by a Christian church granting space to a Muslim congregation. It is as much as saying “we all believe the same thing so it really doesn’t make a difference.” While we really don’t all belive the same thing, and it really does make a difference.

    I would say the same thing if the question were posed regarding Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and any other religious group that does not affirm a basic “Apostle’s Creed” level commitment to orthodox Christian teaching.

    Christians can and should show the virtues of open mindedness, tolerance, etc. by taking all comers at hospitals, disaster relief, etc.

  4. Emily Esfahani Smith
    C
    Denise Moss: While the temple I belong to was being built, all our services were conducted in the Lutheran church next door.  · Jan 24 at 7:10am

    This is interesting, because my next question is this: if Christians feel peculiar about opening their doors to Muslim worshipers, I wonder how they feel about opening them to Jewish worshipers, or to Christian worshipers of different denominations? Now I know part of the answer to that question! 

  5. jhimmi

     I would say yes, with a caveat; Christians should be allowed to witness to the Muslims before and/or after the Muslim prayers, on the Muslim worshippers way in and/or out of the church. Wonder what the reaction would be?

  6. Bill Waldron

    No, not something to celebrate.

  7. Jerry Carroll

    If you believe in the salami-slice approach to conquest of the West, asking a Christian church to allow Muslim religious services makes perfect sense. Otherwise it is an oil and water question.

  8. dxturner

    Christians often read “turn the other cheek” as being submissive in the face of an aggressor. Perhaps it is better viewed as an act of defiance.

    Loaning out the space may seem like “the Christian thing to do,” but it is also abdicating the spiritual leadership role that was given to the church. It’s like the bad parent that indulges a child’s every wish … a give up. There are times to take a stand and this seems like one to me. I don’t think Muslim worship is appropriate in Christian church.

    How many mosques would be willing to loan out their space on Sunday morning for Christian worship?

  9. Emily Esfahani Smith
    C
    jhimmi:  I would say yes, with a caveat; Christians should be allowed to witness to the Muslims before and/or after the Muslim prayers, on the Muslim worshippers way in and/or out of the church. Wonder what the reaction would be? · Jan 24 at 7:17am

    I don’t think that would ever happen, but it would certainly be an interesting experiment! 

  10. Mel Foil
    Emily Esfahani Smith, Ed. :  ….By lending their spaces to Muslim worshipers, Christians are certainly putting into practice several of those virtues, and more–something to celebrate, I think, don’t you?  ·

    Since the courtesy would never be offered in the other direction, I think it just makes the Christians look like chumps. And being a push-over is never the basis for a better relationship. It’s just a way to become a bigger doormat next time.

  11. Emily Esfahani Smith
    C
    dxturner: How many mosques would be willing to loan out their space on Sunday morning for Christian worship? · Jan 24 at 7:21am

    But that’s just the point: probably not any, but why not set an example of openness? 

  12. Stuart Creque

    The Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron was set up for dual worship: for Muslims on Fridays, for Jews on Saturdays.

    Unfortunately, Baruch Goldstein’s actions disrupted the sharing arrangement.  Jews are now permitted into the Cave only on 10 particular days (of Jewish religious significance) a year.

  13. Mike Riscili
    Denise Moss:  [T]he Muslim world needs as much exposure to Western Christian-Judeo thought as possible.  Open your doors.   

    The issue isn’t so much opening the doors. Opening the doors in a Christian sense means inviting Muslims to the preaching of the Gospel, but that is not what is happening here. 

    I can’t imagine God’s people of the Old Testament opening up Temple to the idolators and sun worshippers.   All are invited in to hear the preaching of the Gospel but I am not aware of any Christian theology that allows for the worshiping of other gods.

    Let’s assume for a minute that the roles are reversed.  Do you think for one minute that the mosque would open its doors to allow the worship of Christ?  Of course, our response should not be based on the actions of others, but Christianity is about one thing; Christ.  While kindness and charity are fruits of the spirit, tolerance of other gods was most certainly not preached by Christ or his followers. By allowing the worship of other gods, I can only come to the conclusion that they are being un-Christian.  

  14. StickerShock

     Denise, Christians consider Jews our faith forefathers.  Jewish and Christian houses of worship of most denominations are commonly shared.  I also attended ecumeneical services at my Catholic Church (Catholic/Jewish/Protestant celebrants) all the time back in the late 60s.

    But JudeoChristian & Muslim faiths are oil and water, as Your grace points out. 

  15. Charlie Dameron
    Jan-Michael Rives: Uhhh… no? Inviting Muslims to worship in a Christian church is demeaning to both Islam and Christianity in the sense that it lumps them together as just two flavors of some wacky thing called religion. The advocates of this sort of thing, I suspect, are themselves irreligious. We’re talking about mutually exclusive belief systems here! It cannot be the goal of a reasonable Muslim to help a Christian study Christianity, or vice versa.

    I would challenge the idea that Christianity and Islam are “mutually exclusive.” Exclusionary reasoning leads down ugly paths. For instance, we might argue that Catholicism and Protestantism are “mutually exclusive.” Or that Lutheranism and Episcopalianism are “mutually exclusive.” Nick Stuart’s contention that anyone who accepts the Apostle’s Creed is basically on the same page is an arbitrary one. One could also argue that the Eucharist distinguishes “authentic” Christianity from other strands.

    The worship of God is a beautiful thing, and it’s a perfectly Christian thing to do to open one’s doors so that others may worship Him in the manner of their families and ancestors.

  16. Brian Watt

    Let them gather in their own homes or in the case of Imam Rauf his two-room apartment. Thanks to the recession there is so much empty commercial space available that this should not be an issue. It is an issue, because it is a veiled attempt to supplant Christianity.

    Any Christian who needs to have a place to pray shouldn’t be turned away from his or her church because a Muslim service is going on.

    Can Catholics conduct a mass in Mecca? When we will be allowed permission for that? How about building churches throughout Saudi Arabia? How’s that going?

    Just curious why these Muslim contingents aren’t pressing rabbis to make synagogues available. 

  17. Western Chauvinist

    Terrible idea.  And deeply naive.  Islam is a religion of societal, political and, not incidentally, religious conquest.  That many practitioners may not wish to conquer the world for Islam does not change its fundamental nature.  Only a small percentage of Soviets were members of the Communist Party, and yet that evil system persisted for decades.  The ideology of those with the power and influence is what matters.

    There’s also the urgent problem of Westerners becoming disconnected, if not alienated, from their own history and culture.  Evidence of this is everywhere in the church, where the secular left has had much more influence on Christianity than Christianity has had on society of late (our “Christian” president unabashedly “celebrating” Roe v. Wade, for example).  

    The obvious question to ask is, how would Jews feel about hosting Muslims or how would Muslims feel about hosting Jews or Christians?  Christians have and will continue to offer succor and mercy to Muslims.  Inviting them into the sanctuary, unless as converts, is a step too far.

  18. jhimmi
    Emily Esfahani Smith, Ed.

    jhimmi:  I would say yes, with a caveat; Christians should be allowed to witness to the Muslims before and/or after the Muslim prayers, on the Muslim worshippers way in and/or out of the church. Wonder what the reaction would be? · Jan 24 at 7:17am

    I don’t think that would ever happen, but it would certainly be an interesting experiment!  · Jan 24 at 7:22am

    This makes me think of something Ayaan Hirsi Ali wrote a while back about the West having more confidence in its institutions. Our tolerance should come from a confidence in our culture, our institutions, our heritage.

    This is why the tolerance of the left is so dangerious, because it hates Western Civilization, and, intentionallly or otherwise, is creating a cultural vacuum that is begging to be filled by something else.

  19. Mike Riscili
    Charlie Dameron

    I would challenge the idea that Christianity and Islam are “mutually exclusive.” Exclusionary reasoning leads down ugly paths. For instance, we might argue that Catholicism and Protestantism are “mutually exclusive.” Or that Lutheranism and Episcopalianism are “mutually exclusive.” 

    If we are talking about Biblical Christianity then Christianity and Islam are most definitely “mutually exclusive.”  Either you believe that Christ is God or you don’t.  I don’t see any wiggle room here.

    Catholicism and Protestantism are not “mutually exclusive” as they have the common tenet that Christ is the savior.  John 14:6 “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’”  If you believe this, then all other religions are mutually exclusive.

  20. Brian Watt
    Emily Esfahani Smith, Ed.

    dxturner: How many mosques would be willing to loan out their space on Sunday morning for Christian worship? · Jan 24 at 7:21am

    But that’s just the point: probably not any, but why not set an example of openness?  · Jan 24 at 7:26am

    How about this example: Saudi Arabia allows the construction of a Catholic cathedral in Mecca and Catholics are allowed to travel there and worship without fear of being killed.