It would not surprise me to find Southern Baptists complaining about something, but it is interesting to note the latest objections to the 9/11 service of compassion at Washington National Cathedral this weekend. It is an interfaith service and includes representatives but many of the faith traditions in our country, but apparently not those from the evangelical tradition, i.e. Southern Baptists. You can read more about this here.
What I find ironic about this objection is the idea that Southern Baptists would participate in an interfaith worship service in the first place. This brand of religion being practiced at this Episcopal church would cause many in the SBC to boycott attendance. The additional irony and/or hypocrisy can be traced to when Richard Land signed a document of understanding with Roman Catholics (Evangelicals and Catholics Together) a few years ago there was so much of an uproar that he had to withdraw his support of it. But it would seem that they are justified in calling for President Obama to boycott the event because they are being left out. I do not understand why they would think he would listen to them, when so many of those in SBC leadership positions criticize him openly at every opportunity.
It is worth mentioning that there will be many such gatherings in churches across our nation and each church will deal or not deal with the significance of the anniversary in its own way. Each of these congregations has the freedom to include or not include anyone they wish in the programming of their worship services. I feel that way about the Washington Cathedral service too. Let them do what they want to do and let other churches do what they want. If Southern Baptists feel strongly about interfaith services, then let them organize and carry one out. They don’t need the one in the nation’s capital to satisfy that urge. Their Executive Committee could have put one together. It is also worth mentioning that the Inter-faith Dialogue agency was changed to Inter-faith Witness several years ago, so that should give an indication of how the SBC views other religions. I believe it’s important to respect the beliefs of others, even though I maintain the uniqueness of Christ, and for this reason would not be offended by being excluded from a worship service like the one at Washington Cathedral. Let the Episcopalians represent the Christian tradition at this one! It’s being held in their building after all.
The reason I am commenting on this is that this weekend will definitely be a time of reflection and hope for our country, with a desire to return to the unified spirit that existed shortly after the 9/11 attacks. We ought to do our best to de-politicize what happened 10 years ago and establish the fact that we are human beings and Americans in the main. I also think there are times when people of all religions can come together for a common purpose to strengthen relationships in the community. However, this Sunday should be a time when individual church families reflect upon God’s greatness and goodness in the face of terrible evil and suffering. It should be a time to examine our priorities and values, and in particular our relationship with God through Jesus Christ. And it is also an exercise of religious freedom. So, let us count our blessings and remember those who lives were forever changed by what happened 10 years ago. Anything less than that this weekend would truly be objectionable.