Pasadena, CA. – Fuller Theological Seminary is planning on using federal funds to launch a $1 million program to improve strained relations with Muslims with an interfaith code of ethics. This program will bring back the bridge between Christians and Muslims that has been broken since the 9/11 incident.
"We hope to lead a large portion of evangelical Christians into a better understanding of Islam," said Sherwood Lingenfelter, Fuller's provost and senior vice president. "After 9/11 there was a great deal of hostility in the Christian community toward Muslims."
Last year, televangelist Jerry Falwell described the Prophet Muhammad as a terrorist and the Rev. Jerry Vines, former president of the Southern Baptist Convention, called Islam's founder a "demon-possessed pedophile."
Fuller Theological Seminary proposed a code that asks both Christian and Muslim believers to avoid from making offensive statements about one another, affirm a mutual belief in one God, and prohibit proselytizing over the two-year span of the project.
The program is funded by Justice Department which includes teaching the code to Muslims and Christian community leaders in the Los Angeles area and publishing a book.
Some Muslim leaders who have already begun participating in the program were very supportive of the action taken by the seminary.
"We are changing the course away from accusations and poisoning the well of relations to what can develop into a project in the service of God," said Yahia Abdul-Rahman, the leader of the region’s network of mosques – Islamic Shura Council of Southern California, who began participating in the initiative last year.
However, not everyone is happy with the program. Some conservative Christians opposed parts of the ethics code.
"For Fuller to declare that Christians and Muslims worship the same God would be a radical departure, not only from the evangelical tradition but also the tenets of orthodox Christianity," said John Revell, a spokesman for the Southern Baptists' executive committee.