This week, pastors from our church and several others in the Santa Clarita Valley took a stand on the planned burning of the Quran by Pastor Terry Jones. I am pleased to be represented in this as I do not support actions of this man who would seek to do harm in the name of our Lord. I understand that the actions of one individual claiming to be a Christian do not represent all of Christianity any more than the cowardly acts of a group of terrorists should be not be assigned to an entire religion.

I hope that this letter, and more importantly our actions as followers of Christ, will show the Muslim community of Santa Clarita that we desire to live the model that our Lord set before us - to love our neighbors and to do unto others as we would have them do unto us. I also hope this encourages all religious leaders to righteously oppose the actions of those minorities who would commit offensive acts and claim to do them in the name of religion.

This open letter to the Muslim community of Santa Clarita  originally appeared in the Santa Clarita Signal on September 10, 2010:

An open letter to the Muslim community of Santa Clarita:
Dear neighbors,
Although it appears that the Quran-burning event planned by Pastor Terry Jones has been called off, we believe that the ethics behind the idea and the idea itself need to be righteously opposed.

We have followed with a heavy heart the developments in Gainesville, Fla., where the pastor of a small church announced plans to burn 200 copies of the Quran on the anniversary of 9/11.

Despite the national and international outcry provoked by his outrageous plan, including opposition from Christian leaders across the country and around the world, Jones seemed determined to move forward.

We sincerely hope that his stated change of mind will hold, but believe that we need to speak out against his viewpoint.

We are writing this letter to assure you that Jones does not speak for the Christian community, and that he definitely does not speak for us, or for the members of the churches that we represent. His plans are offensive to us, and should be offensive to Christians everywhere.

We are embarrassed by his actions, and sincerely hope that the local and international Muslim community will see them for what they are: a publicity-seeking provocation by an unreasonable man of no standing in the Christian community.

As followers of Jesus Christ, we believe that we are called to represent him by embodying his principles. The Jesus of the Bible did not burn the sacred books of other religions. He spoke the truth in love, prayed for his enemies and forgave those who persecuted him. We believe that his death on the cross made it possible for rebellious human beings to be reconciled to their Creator. This good news can sadly be obscured by offensive acts done in his name by people who claim to represent him.  

Whether the burning ever takes place, the very thought of it has done damage around the world. We are grieved to see that damage, and will do all in our power to counteract it as we strive to represent the One who said, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

We wish Jones would remember these words. We pledge to do our best to live by them, and hope that you, our Muslim neighbors, will notice the difference.

Sincerely,
Pastor David Hegg,
Grace Baptist Church


Pastor Bob Childress,
Evangelical Free Church of the Canyons


Pastor Jim Ryan,
Heart of the Canyons Church


Pastor Scott Basolo,
Santa Clarita Baptist Church


Pastor Doug Main and
Pastor Luis Espino,
Cornerstone Church SCV


Pastor Scott Ardavanis,
Placerita Baptist Church

Discussion/Comments (8):

An open letter to the Muslim community of Santa Clarita

"We pledge to do our best to live by them, and hope that you, our Muslim neighbors, will notice the difference. "

Translation... "Please don't blow us up".

Why did your group of pastors believe this letter was required?

Are we all so wrapped up in political correctness that we live in fear that anything we say or do might possibly offend someone somewhere and that we have to apologize ahead of time for something that has not even occurred?

By sending this letter you are basically saying "We know your culture is prone to violence, revenge and holy wars upon anything that moves, and even though you have moved here and have been peaceful and tolerant, we felt the need to publicly distance ourselves from those who are not convinced of the peaceful nature of your religion."

It certainly looks like you still think they might go Jihad on us all so you are trying to cover your asses by sending this letter first, just in case.

Posted at 9/13/2010 1:48:32 PM by Brett H


re: An open letter to the Muslim community of Santa Clarita

Hello Brett,

Quite the contrary. It's not about fear of offending, as you state, but rather a desire to communicate the compassion of our faith to love our neighbors.

Without the media, we do quite well, but when the media gets involved, they need to create a mountain out of a molehill and they will do so any way that they can. If it serves the media well to smear all Muslims or all Jews or all Christians because of the actions of a lone individual they will do so - even if this one individual does not represent the group. The media loves sensational news and if they can show someone burning a American flag or a Quran on TV to keep people glued to the news all the better.

Of course, this has an impact on the relationships of neighbors in in peaceful communities like Santa Clarita.

I believe the pastor's letter is an effort to point out that a lone individual, in this case Mr. Jones, does not - despite his claim - represent the broader community of Christians.

Thanks for your comment.

Eric

Posted at 9/13/2010 2:06:40 PM by Eric Mack


An open letter to the Muslim community of Santa Clarita

Hi Eric, I believe they already knew this, and that is why they came to America...

Being all smarmy and apologetic though, to cover for someone elses words or actions is fear of retaliation.

It is not a crime to offend others, and in fact, it's pretty much a natural consequence of having diverse cultures...

It's how we react to offenses that sets us apart from others, not how easily we are offended.

BTW it's a book, purchasable for $5.99 at a local bookstore, attaching religious significance to anything is at the behest of the owner. If ones faith is true and strong then burning the book should have absolutely no effect on the believer of said work.

I do agree, the media is usually solely responsible for the storm in a teacup. But I would be have been VERY interested to see local Muslim reaction in the USA if it were to have happened. The reaction should be "meh... it's a book, we've got thousands." then the whole situation would never have blown up (pardon the pun).

Posted at 9/13/2010 2:31:24 PM by Brett H


re: An open letter to the Muslim community of Santa Clarita

Hi Brett,

You wrote: "It's how we react to offenses that sets us apart from others" that says it all. Let's start there. - Eric

Posted at 9/13/2010 2:35:13 PM by Eric Mack


An open letter to the Muslim community of Santa Clarita

It is my understanding that Christians, Muslims and Jews all worship the same God and are all are sons of Abraham.

Most reasonable people would regard a threat to burn the Quran in the same way as someone threatening to burn the Christian Bible or the Jewish Torah (Old Testament).

Such an act is disrespectful towards the beliefs and teachings of all three religions and is offensive to all people regardless of their religious beliefs.

I feel that this open letter to the Muslim community is both proper and reflective of how most people feel about this dumb idea

promoted by Pastor Terry Jones.

Posted at 9/14/2010 12:15:25 AM by Ian Randall


An open letter to the Muslim community of Santa Clarita

Brett's comments make very interesting reading. I could not help smiling to myself when I read what Brett thought about Muslims in general. Just because a few (Yes Brett, they are only a few when you think there are 1.6 billion of us) of them blow themselves up and kill people (including Muslims) does not make us all violent, blood thirsty jihadists, much like Terry Jones does not represent all the American Christians.

But he also makes a very important point - the Quran in its printed form is just another book and they can burn as many as they want to as it is just paper and ink. The real Quran lives on in our hearts and minds. This point has been made by many Islamic scholars most notably the president of the Islamic Council of Florida.

Also, an open letter of this kind is a gesture of friendliness, not weakness. Just like condemnation for acts of terror by Islamic scholars & leaders are an act of empathy. That is what you do in times of crises. So thank you Eric and your fellow Christians for the kind words!

Posted at 9/14/2010 5:54:21 AM by Arshad Khalid


re: An open letter to the Muslim community of Santa Clarita

Arshad, I shared your comment with my children today at breakfast, and I explained that the foolishness of those that would seek to destroy provides an opportunity for us to live a contrasting message in the way that we choose (or not) to reach out in kindness and friendship. Too many people, including the media I'm afraid, miss this and focus on the fool or the tragedy instead of the opportunity. Thank you for your comment. - Eric

Posted at 9/14/2010 11:13:03 AM by Eric Mack



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