Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Interfaith Delegation Meets With Rep. Goode Over Controversial Remarks

A group of Christian and Muslim religious leaders, headed by Vince Isner—formerly of the General Board of Church and Society of The United Methodist Church and currently of the National Council of Churches' Faithful America website—recently met with Rep. Virgil Goode (R-VA) regarding the congressman's recent controversial statement about Muslim Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) and illegal immigration. Goode argued that "if American citizens don’t wake up and adopt the Virgil Goode position on immigration there will likely be many more Muslims elected to office and demanding the use of the Koran." Of course, the only Muslim ever elected to Congress was born in the United States to American-born parents and was elected in a state with a moderate population of persons who entered the country illegally.

Anyway, though Goode stood by his statement, Isner reports that the Congressman was congenial, listened to each member of the delegation (despite leaving on the television in his office), and complimented Dr. Sayyid Syeed, National Director of the Islamic Society of North America (kind of). Goode even accepted an invitation to attend a Muslim service or gathering. Isner summarizes the experience:

Yes, it could have gone badly. But it didn’t. Instead, it became both a kind gesture and Holy moment, because Mr. Goode was sincere in his compliment, and, in Dr. Syeed’s wisdom, he – indeed all of us - understood that this is how seeds of understanding are planted. Despite years of Mr. Goode’s apparent preconceptions, misconceptions, misunderstandings, or whatever it is that causes barriers where bridges might otherwise be… despite these and even a blaring television overhead, they were no match for a chance to sit eyeball to eyeball with deep and loving people whose lives are a genuine expression of what they believe.


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