Despite Reverend Franklin Graham's disappointment which he shared on Twitter about the Muslim led prayer service at Washington National Cathedral, this is not the first time that the sixth largest Cathedral church in the world has ecumenically opened its doors to non-Christian worship.
In January 2014, the Washington National Cathedral hosted "Seeing Deeper" which welcomed worshipers of different faith to bring prayer mats, yoga mats, zafu meditation cushions and mandalas to touch the divine. So having a Muslim led prayer service is not surprising.
Regarding the recent Muslim Prayer Service, the Dean of National Cathedral Gary Hall was unaware or did not care that the Muslim prayer service at Washington National Cathedral was held on the centennial of the last Caliph declaring a holy war on all non-believers. When Breitbart News journalists informed the rector, Rev. Hall equivocated: "[I]t actually seems to be more appropriate to have an event that is on an anniversary of a hard time… There have been atrocities on both sides. There have been extremists on both sides.” After pointing out that Menachem Begin and many founders of the state of Israel were "terrorists", the Episcopal minister mused: “Everyone’s hands are dirty at some point… There’s no one in the world who has absolutely clean hands."
|Muslim led Friday Prayers at Washington National Cathedral Nov. 14, 2014 [photo source: AFP]|
The prayer carpets for the around two hundred Muslim faithful gathered for the Jumu'ah (Muslim Prayer Service) were laid diagonally in the transept on the side of the sanctuary to face Mecca without seeing any Christian icons, as Islam forbids prayer in view of sacred symbols which are alien to their faith.
Before the prayers started, a lone protester proclaimed: "Jesus died on that Cross for us. Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior." before being whisked out of the supposedly Christian church.
It seems that forthrightly proclaiming the faith in the House of God which a Cathedral church represents is unwelcomed at Washington National Cathedral. It runs counter to what Rev. Canon Gina Campbell, the Cathedral's liturgical director, espoused in publicizing the event: “This needs to be a world in which all are free to believe and practice and in which we avoid bigotry, Islamaphobia, racism, anti-Semitism, and anti-Christianity and to embrace our humanity and to embrace faith.”
The Right Reverend Gary Hall has interesting ideas about ecumenism. Hall does not believe in talking about God with members of different faith as that only leads to arguments. Instead Hall believes that "Let's all pray together and experience the divine together in our own way." It ignores the great commission of MT: 28:16-20 but why be pushy about divine matters for the National House of Prayer?
Washington National Cathedral was founded on a charter from Congress but is an Episcopal Cathedral. While it is wonderful to reach out to people of faith to find commonalities, it seems pusillanimous to not represent the faith at the seat of the Archbishop, who should be shepherding the flock. Moreover, treating Washington National Cathedral like an International House of Prayer seems like it is making it a big venue religious entertainment. Then again the Very Reverend Gary Hall wished about to roller skate or throw paper airplanes down the temporarily empty nave of Washington National Cathedral
Ecumenism is illuminating and foster tolerance and perhaps peace in the proper context. This is often accomplished through interfaith prayer services, which may concentrate on the spiritual things which unite various confessions. However, a renunciation of truth by not sharing the Good News when worshiping in a Cathedral church is indeed troubling. This leads to what Pope (Emeritus) Benedict XVI labeled a renunciation of truth that is lethal to faith. When eternal symbols become inter-changible, we may find ourselves singing: "Have a RamahanuKwanzMas" soon.
h/t: Breitbart News