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September 13th, 2010
08:48 AM ET

Churches read from Quran in face of proposed Quran burning

Journalist Amy Zerba filed this report from Gainesville, Florida:

Rev. Larry Reimer says there's a simple message at the core of his faith: people have more in common than they have in conflict.

It's one reason he chose to have a passage from the Quran read at the United Church of Gainesville, part of the United Church of Christ, on Sunday.

And he wasn’t alone.

More than 20 religious leaders from Catholic, Protestant, Jewish and Muslim backgrounds around Gainesville had the same Quran passage read - along with Christian and Hebrew scriptures–  at their congregations over the weekend. Local synagogues made it part of their Rosh Hashanah celebrations.

It was a sign of unity after weeks of talk by a Florida pastor who threatened to burn the Muslim holy book on 9-11 but who ultimately cancelled the event.

“It just seemed that the reading of Quran was the most affirmative thing we can do,” said Reimer, who has served at the United Church of Gainesville for 36 years. “You might say (we) befriended the Quran and brought it into everyone’s framework, everyone’s point of view.”

Reimer came up with the idea a few days after he learned of the planned Burn A Koran Day from worried parishioners. He approached local religious leaders to join him in reading common Hebrew, Christian and Muslim scriptures at their Sabbath services.

The response from the community was overwhelming positive, he said.

Shanna Johnson, 40, a member of the United Church of Gainesville, said the proposed Quran burning forced the Gainesville community to talk “rationally” with others about different faiths.

“The things that we have in common can really come out in this type of situation,” Johnson said.

Reimer plans to continue connections with clergy from other faiths. A group of religious leaders will meet in October in Gainesville to try to improve interfaith relations.

“My whole ministry, my whole faith is designed around the sense that we have much to learn from each other that we are a common family and that our division is not among religions but it is among fanatics and extremists on both sides that we have to overcome,” Reimer said.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Florida • Houses of worship • Islam • Muslim • Quran • United States

soundoff (555 Responses)
  1. jubei3

    Charity is not arrogant...charity is not puffed up, Charity does not seek ways to elevate itself, charity is not easily provoked, charity does not seek it's own self, charity bears all things in truth, charity endures all things in thruth, charity Hopes for all things in truth...Charity never fails, even through preachings, and languages and different understandingswhich may fail, charity is preserved through the Spirit of the lord.

    Islam may not be the choice of christians, but Love was, and by adherng to the tenants of Christ, we must adhere to the understanding provided to us through the apostles..that we must love one another. Not only ourselves, but the stranger also. Who in life is above reproach? Who is not worthy of the reward of sin? yet through grace we have the oppourtunity to Life.

    September 13, 2010 at 1:33 pm |
  2. John Meunier

    This comment will probably be lost, but the Scripture cited in the photo cannot be correct. If the woman read only Matthew 22:34 as her Christian text, the congregation must have been confused by its connection to the Shema.

    September 13, 2010 at 1:29 pm |
    • Elisa Lockhart

      The passages read were:
      From Hebrew Scripture – The Sh’ma.
      Deuteronomy 6:4-5 – “Hear O Israel: the Lord is our God, the Lord alone is One. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.”
      From Christian Scripture
      Matthew 22:34 – “Jesus answered, “the first is, ‘Hear O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Love your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this. ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other greater commandment than these.”
      From the Qu’ran – Love of God
      Aal ‘Imran 3:64 – “Say: O People of the Scripture! Come to a common word between us and you: that we shall worship none but God, and that we shall ascribe no partner unto Him, and that none of us shall take others for lords beside God. And if they turn away, then say: Bear witness that we are they who have surrendered (unto Him).”

      September 13, 2010 at 3:47 pm |
  3. readthebook

    The concept of "Mairaj" should be compulsory reading for all these Abrahamic faith uniters – when Mohammad flew on the wings of Gabriel to Jerusalem and prayed with Moses, Abraham, and Jesus on the temple mount – then ascended to the Heavens on a white winged horse for his audience with God. This is what unites all three faiths and marginalizes the differences and divisiveness.

    September 13, 2010 at 1:26 pm |
  4. Arben

    If you want to be free of all this non-sense and finally understand the truth please read the works of J.Krishnamurti. Just listen to once of his talks and you will begin to understand where religions and everything falls. He has been dead for awhile now but there is a website with most of his talks on video/audio worldwide. The website url is http://www.jkrishnamurti.org

    September 13, 2010 at 1:20 pm |
  5. Johnna

    People, people, people, when will you learn that the God you pray to is within yourself and only you have the power to bring your God to life. To divide into religious sects is to divide the human race from being as one! (Note: I don't think I wrote this by myself as it is not in my nature to elaborate on such a subject???????)

    September 13, 2010 at 1:19 pm |
  6. Perry

    See "The Islamization Of Paris, A warning to west " on Youtube.

    Also see Speech by Geert Wilders at Ground Zero either on Youtube or Google it.

    Read about him on FaithFreedom.org

    September 13, 2010 at 1:18 pm |
    • Kate

      @Perry

      So the best you can come up with is a protest of the squelching of religious freedoms by a government that supports pedophiles, and the narration of a ultra-socialist nationalist?

      You're picking some really skewed examples to hold up – especially the latter. Do you admire Wilders' opinion of the Holocaust too?

      Just sayin'

      September 13, 2010 at 1:34 pm |
  7. angel

    The disease isn't religion or faith, it is the ego of man. It is the ego that makes the distinction between "me" & "them". The same ego that pits one "god" against another is the same ego that will have a 2 year old smash another 2 year old's head for "my" toy, though he may not yet have been exposed 2 violence. I would also like 2 mention that the Torah is comprised of the first 5 books of the bible. The Quran instructs all muslims 2 go back & read ALL scriptures before Al Quran was revealed 2 muhammad in a cave in Qumran.

    September 13, 2010 at 1:14 pm |
  8. SomeTruth

    Guess what, steve... they say the same thing about you.

    Who is correct? Neither

    All religion is myth and fantasy.

    September 13, 2010 at 1:14 pm |
  9. Reality

    What should be read from all pulpits but unfortunantly never will be.

    For new members only:

    It is the Muslims that should burn their copies of the koran for the 1400 year old con job that is pulled on them daily by the imams and ayatollahs. Christians should burn their copies of the NT for the 2000 year old con job that has been perpetuated on them by popes, bishops, priests, ministers and evangelicals. And Jews should burn their copies of the OT/Torah for the 6000 year old con job pulled on them by their past and current rabbis.

    Of course, because of the following, there will be no people to preach to so it is a mute point:

    Recognizing the flaws, follies and frauds in the foundations of Islam, Judaism and Christianity by the "bowers", kneelers" and "pew peasants" will converge these religions into some simple rules of life. No koran, bible, clerics, nuns, monks, imams, evangelicals, ayatollahs, rabbis, professors of religion or priests needed or desired. Ditto for houses and classes of "worthless worship" aka mosques, churches, basilicas, cathedrals, temples and synagogues.

    September 13, 2010 at 1:10 pm |
  10. iowaview

    All you "infidels" understand Islam's basic tenant is anyone who is not a believer in Islam must die.

    September 13, 2010 at 1:09 pm |
    • Lucy

      As a fellow Iowan, you embarrass me. Are you not aware that Cedar Rapids has a huge Muslim population of over 2000 families that have been here for generations? And nobody has been killed yet. Your assertion that Islam orders killing of those who are not Muslim is absolute ignorance. My gosh, get an education!

      September 13, 2010 at 1:39 pm |
  11. Lee

    We do have much to learn from one another. If we learn, we have knowledge. Knowledge is a powerful tool, then maybe we won't be so afraid of the unknown, and not assume that something is evil. Kudos to the ones who participated in this, what a nice way to try and unite.

    September 13, 2010 at 1:07 pm |
  12. Mangoose

    I have no problem as long as they EXCLUDE those passages from QURAN which preaches about violence and human killings.

    September 13, 2010 at 1:05 pm |
  13. James

    Christianity does not have the same meaning today. People who have never been to church, or read a bible call themselves christain if they wear a cross neckless. To be a Christian means to be Christ like. How can a person that claims to be Christ like(a Christian) read from a book that says Christ is not the Son of God. Very misleading churches..

    September 13, 2010 at 1:02 pm |
    • Elisa Lockhart

      Jesus spread a message of love and peace. I think it's very Christ-like to teach tolerance.

      September 13, 2010 at 3:51 pm |
  14. Stan

    Two Christian brothers accused of writing a blasphemous pamphlet critical of the Prophet Mohammed were shot dead in July outside a court in eastern Pakistan.

    “Over the past months in Pakistan Christians were murdered in some villages, stirring consciences in Europe and also in Italy,” Frattini said.

    In August 2009, eight Christians were burned alive after being accused of blasphemy.

    September 13, 2010 at 1:02 pm |
    • John

      How many Muslims were killed by Muslims over the same time frame in Pakistan?

      September 13, 2010 at 2:16 pm |
  15. Luposian

    Jesus said "I am the truth, the way, and the life. NO MAN cometh unto the Father except by me." The Quar'an teaches that God has no son. Jews (by majority) don't believe Jesus is the Messiah.

    Either Jesus was stating the truth or He was lying. Or... as some believe... He never existed, to begin with.

    Who is right? Christians, muslims, or Jews?

    Well, if Jews and muslims basically say/believe Jesus isn't who He said He was, then I'd say they feel pretty threatened by Jesus. And Jesus clearly says that the world hated Him before it hated us. And the bible says "...they will kill you (Christians) and think they do God service." Sound familiar?

    Christians are the main focus of attacks around the world. You don't read about Jews being stabbed and beaten in Indonesia. But you hear how Christians, simply walking to church there, are attacked in such a way! Do you see Christians "getting even" for that? No.

    You see muslims getting into an uproar because their prophet Muhammad was depicted... but they believe Jesus was a prophet, as well, and do NOTHING when He is depicted and ridiculed by the world. Christians, who believe Jesus is GOD, have more right to be angry and in an uproar, when Jesus is stepped on and defamed. But do they? No. They protest, but do no harm. No burned buildings, no killed people... why is this?

    When you compare the three "Abrahamic religions", I'd go with Christianity. It is inherently peaceable, has a leader (Jesus) who was able to walk through the midst of an angry mob who attempted to throw Him off a cliff, healed the sick, raised the dead... and arose 3 days after HE was killed...

    One man, on the earth a mere 32 yrs... has a ministry for 3 yrs.,.. and His followers spread His teaching so far and wide, that EVERY OTHER RELIGION HATES THEM... I'd say that's a guy to be followed after.

    Oh, and one other thing... how many Christians threaten/attempt to KILL those who stray from the faith? But, try leaving Islam and see how long you live... curious, no? Why do muslims feels so threatened by people leaving their system of beliefs that they would seek to kill the one who does so?

    September 13, 2010 at 1:00 pm |
    • John

      Actually Muslims are most often the focus of attacks worldwide.

      Largely because extremist Muslims attack moderate Muslims (or extremist Muslims that disagree with their extremist positions) with a vigor and voracity that rivals the factional infighting of the Protestant Reformation.

      Remember when, in Ireland, you could be killed by Protestants just for being Catholic, or killed by Catholics just for being Protestant? The Irish do. You've got a short and Christian-biased memory.

      The problem with a theology that preaches that only one religion, and indeed only one interpretation of one religion, can be correct, and all others lead to salvation, is that you're jumping into an already crowded pool when you say that. How do you know your religion is the right one? Faith. How does Abdul the Muslim in Egypt know his religion is the right one? Faith.

      For my part, I want no heaven that's got you, you personally, in it, and if I wind up in hell as a result, so be it.

      September 13, 2010 at 1:56 pm |
    • John

      <>
      Assuming Jesus actually said that and it wasn’t added by the early Catholics at the Council of Nicene
      <>
      This is the logical fallacy of the False Dilemma, avoiding a number of other possibilities. Maybe he was wrong? Maybe he meant that for his audience? Maybe words were put in his mouth? Who knows?
      <>
      Or Buddhists, or Hindus, or Shintos, or Yorumba, or Lakota…
      <>
      That’s because there aren’t a lot of Jews in Indonesia… and yes, throughout history when Christians have been attacked, there’s been a back and forth between them and their attacker, ever since Christianity gave up on pacifism in the 3rd century and started skinning heretics alive (look up the story of Hypatia).
      <>
      Maybe not now. Italian painter Paolo Veronese was called before the inquisition on charges of heresy, because in his painting “The Lord’s Last Supper” there was a figure who looked like a German knight, and the Germans were reviled by the Catholic Italians as Protestant heretics. Veronese escaped the stake by merely changing the name of the painting. Believe me, throughout history Christians have killed people and burned buildings in the name of Christianity… why is this?
      <>
      If you think that Christianity is inherently peaceable your knowledge of Christian history must have skipped right from 33 CE to the present day, and put blinders on for an added bonus. Christianity, like a lot of other religions that have been co-opted by governments as a means of manipulating the people, has a very long and very bloody history spanning about 1700 years. If you want specific examples I can provide them. Oh, but you say, the violent ones aren’t *really* Christian? Well, the violent Muslims aren’t *really* Muslim. Boy, that was easy.
      <>
      If we’re judging viability of a religion by how many people hate it, I think that as a neopagan, I win. If so many people far and wide hate Christianity, it’s because when his followers were spreading his teachings, they were doing it on the point of the sword, and with cannon and musket. It’s because there’s 1700 years of preaching peace and love and justifying war, genocide, and slavery.
      <>
      As an apostate Christian turned neopagan I’ve been threatened more than a few times. Fortunately nowadays Christians prefer to threaten hellfire and eternal torment, while smugly declaring that they’ll pray for you, but this is largely because modern Christians are lazy and fearful of turmoil.

      September 13, 2010 at 2:13 pm |
    • John

      let's try this again with quotes intact
      >”Jesus said "I am the truth, the way, and the life. NO MAN cometh unto the Father except by me."

      Assuming Jesus actually said that and it wasn’t added by the early Catholics at the Council of Nicene

      >”Either Jesus was stating the truth or He was lying. Or... as some believe... He never existed, to begin with.”

      This is the logical fallacy of the False Dilemma, avoiding a number of other possibilities. Maybe he was wrong? Maybe he meant that for his audience? Maybe words were put in his mouth? Who knows?

      >”Who is right? Christians, muslims, or Jews?”

      Or Buddhists, or Hindus, or Shintos, or Yorumba, or Lakota…

      >”Christians are the main focus of attacks around the world. You don't read about Jews being stabbed and beaten in Indonesia. But you hear how Christians, simply walking to church there, are attacked in such a way! Do you see Christians "getting even" for that? No.”

      That’s because there aren’t a lot of Jews in Indonesia… and yes, throughout history when Christians have been attacked, there’s been a back and forth between them and their attacker, ever since Christianity gave up on pacifism in the 3rd century and started skinning heretics alive (look up the story of Hypatia). Read your own religion’s history.

      >”You see muslims getting into an uproar because their prophet Muhammad was depicted... but they believe Jesus was a prophet, as well, and do NOTHING when He is depicted and ridiculed by the world. Christians, who believe Jesus is GOD, have more right to be angry and in an uproar, when Jesus is stepped on and defamed. But do they? No. They protest, but do no harm. No burned buildings, no killed people... why is this?”

      Maybe not now. Italian painter Paolo Veronese was called before the inquisition on charges of heresy, because in his painting “The Lord’s Last Supper” there was a figure who looked like a German knight, and the Germans were reviled by the Catholic Italians as Protestant heretics. Veronese escaped the stake by merely changing the name of the painting. Believe me, throughout history Christians have killed people and burned buildings in the name of Christianity… why is this?
      >”When you compare the three "Abrahamic religions", I'd go with Christianity. It is inherently peaceable, has a leader (Jesus) who was able to walk through the midst of an angry mob who attempted to throw Him off a cliff, healed the sick, raised the dead... and arose 3 days after HE was killed...”

      If you think that Christianity is inherently peaceable your knowledge of Christian history must have skipped right from 33 CE to the present day, and put blinders on for an added bonus. Christianity, like a lot of other religions that have been co-opted by governments as a means of manipulating the people, has a very long and very bloody history spanning about 1700 years. If you want specific examples I can provide them. Oh, but you say, the violent ones aren’t *really* Christian? Well, the violent Muslims aren’t *really* Muslim. Boy, that was easy.

      >”One man, on the earth a mere 32 yrs... has a ministry for 3 yrs.,.. and His followers spread His teaching so far and wide, that EVERY OTHER RELIGION HATES THEM... I'd say that's a guy to be followed after.”

      If we’re judging viability of a religion by how many people hate it, I think that as a neopagan, I win. If so many people far and wide hate Christianity, it’s because when his followers were spreading his teachings, they were doing it on the point of the sword, and with cannon and musket. It’s because there’s 1700 years of preaching peace and love and justifying war, genocide, and slavery.

      >”Oh, and one other thing... how many Christians threaten/attempt to KILL those who stray from the faith? But, try leaving Islam and see how long you live... curious, no? Why do muslims feels so threatened by people leaving their system of beliefs that they would seek to kill the one who does so?”

      As an apostate Christian turned neopagan I’ve been threatened more than a few times. Most have been “you’re going to hell!” threats, but a handful have been much more direct. Fortunately nowadays Christians prefer to threaten hellfire and eternal torment, while smugly declaring that they’ll pray for you, but this is largely because modern Christians are lazy and fearful of turmoil.

      September 13, 2010 at 2:15 pm |
  16. Help

    Hey guys, will you visit SaveStan.ORG a friend of mine with 4 young babies is fighting for his life…… thanks.

    September 13, 2010 at 12:58 pm |
  17. Vijai

    All qurans should be banished to Saudi Arabia and Yemen. They do not belong anywhere else!

    September 13, 2010 at 12:53 pm |
    • John

      Banish all Bibles to Vatican City and you've got yourself a deal.

      September 13, 2010 at 2:17 pm |
  18. Bob

    When religion becomes more important than God, we are doomed. There is one God, some call God Allah, some call God YWH. As a house is casa in Spanish, different cultures have different names for the same thing. It seems that the universal thing is the ability of ignorance to foul things up.

    September 13, 2010 at 12:44 pm |
  19. Mark Knight

    Why not real these parts of religious books?

    Quran:
    You shall fight back against those who do not believe in GOD, nor in the Last Day, nor do they prohibit what GOD and His messenger have prohibited, nor do they abide by the religion of truth – among those who received the scripture – until they pay the due tax, willingly or unwillingly.
    "The Jews said, "Ezra is the son of GOD," while the Christians said, "Jesus is the son of GOD!" These are blasphemies uttered by their mouths. They thus match the blasphemies of those who have disbelieved in the past. GOD condemns them. They have surely deviated."

    Bible:
    Deuteronomy "Kill any friends or family that worship a god that is different than your own."
    Leviticus "If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them."

    Lets see some main stream coverage of just how sick and twisted both your religions really are...

    September 13, 2010 at 12:44 pm |
  20. mat

    Obama should have to say he is a christian underoath so we can impeach him for purgery.

    September 13, 2010 at 12:43 pm |
    • Lee

      Does it really matter? Who cares what religion he is if any. I don't understand why people dwell so much on the really small things that really shouldn't matter to either of us.

      September 13, 2010 at 1:11 pm |
    • Kate

      @mat

      You're saying the president is bulemic? I'm not sure that really disqualifies someone for the Presidency

      Just bingin'

      September 13, 2010 at 1:15 pm |
    • peace2all

      @Kate

      Just ginnin' 🙂

      Peace....

      September 13, 2010 at 1:41 pm |
    • peace2all

      @Kate

      Yes.... I made up a new word.... Just ginnin' Yikes....

      Just (grinnin')

      Peace....

      September 13, 2010 at 2:02 pm |
    • AbiWeb

      @mat...why does it matter what our president's religion is, if he or she has one? Wasn't there a separation between church and state for a reason, i.e. it DOESN'T work. America is comprised of too many people who follow many different faiths, I would hate to see another president sworn into office (Bush anyone?) based on their religious beliefs. We need to focus less on faith based leaders for our country and more on intelligent, competent men and women who can bring this country up and out of debt.

      September 13, 2010 at 2:04 pm |
    • Frogist

      LOL@Kate
      peace2all... like a cotton gin? Or are you just really drunk?

      September 13, 2010 at 7:02 pm |
    • peace2all

      @Frogist

      I wish I could say I 'was' really drunk...... but...... I have no defense on this one....

      Just findin' a place to hide 🙂

      Peace....

      September 13, 2010 at 7:14 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.