Some church members at the Crossroads Assembly of God Church in Wilder say they may picket over a church sign displaying an anti-Islamic message.
The church moved into the spotlight this past week when the message appeared on its reader board. The sign says: "The spirit of Islam is the spirit of Antichrist" in block capital letters.
Although Pastor Geoff Cole says the sign bears an important message, it has generated disapproval from some longtime church-goers.
"There are very few people in the church who agree with it," said Sharon Wilks, a caretaker of the church with her husband, Mike…
…The Wilkses called Cole after seeing reports last week in the news. They told him it reflects poorly on church members.
"It disgraces the church, the people who go to church here and the community," Mike Wilks said. "There is good and bad in every faith, every race, creed and color."
The Wilkses said they want to try to mobilize church members to picket before church services...
The events of Sept. 11 prompted an unprecedented number of interfaith services nationwide, featuring leaders of different religions praying for peace and remembering the more than 4,100 terrorist attack victims.
But some religious leaders have questioned the appropriateness of their clergy participating in such gatherings, including the Sept. 23 "A Prayer for America" service at Yankee Stadium.
"…There's a movement afoot toward a kind of universalism that evangelicals do not accept, that we all pray to the same God and have different paths and the result is the same," said Richard Cizik, spokesman for the National Association of Evangelicals.
"…We take issue not so much with interfaith services but with the impression they leave in the minds of millions of Americans who are confused about the nature of God to begin with," Cizik said. "We want it understood that Christians, Buddhists and Muslims are not praying to the same god. Allah is not Jehovah."
The Rev. Mark Dever, pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Northeast Washington, said he has never participated in an interfaith service and does not intend to.
"I don't want to be seen approving or encouraging prayer to Allah or to a Hindu god," said Dever, who calls himself a "conservative evangelical."
By appearing to be universal in scope, interfaith services "belittle differences" between religions, he said. "The Allah I know is not at all the God of the Bible. I'd be lying if I say they are [the same]…
Less than three months ago, American Muslims celebrated the debut of a U.S. Postal Service stamp commemorating two Islamic holidays as the ultimate sign of acceptance in the United States. Now they're working to ensure that it doesn't become a symbol of rejection…
…Mekeel's and Stamps Magazine, a weekly philatelic newsletter, ran editorials this month and last month against using the Eid stamp, citing the terrorist attacks. The newsletter urged Muslims and others to instead support the United We Stand stamp, which depicts a U.S. flag. Last weekend, the Free Congress Foundation, a conservative policy group, asked Republican congressional leaders to retract the stamp… (Contact: Mekeel's, Box 5050, White Plains, NY 10602.)
"I am writing to suggest that the current stamps be withdrawn, to be overprinted with the image of the Twin Towers and then reissued," foundation President Paul M. Weyrich wrote in letters to House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), Majority Leader Richard K. Armey (R-Tex.) and Majority Whip Tom DeLay (R-Tex.).
"I have no doubt a majority of Americans would find the altered stamps a more appropriate commemoration of Islam than the current celebratory version," he said…
...Postal officials said there has been no attempt to cut back on the stamp's distribution. "As far as we're concerned, it's going to stay on sale and should be in stock at post offices around the country," said Dave Failor, manager of community relations for the Postal Service…