Epis. Priest Says She's
Christian & Muslim
Jun 22, 2007
SEATTLE, Wash. (BP)--In what may be the first claim
of its kind, an Episcopal priest in Seattle says she's both a Christian
and a Muslim. What's more, her bishop finds the claim exciting and
considers her still in good standing.|
"Why would I spend time to
try to reconcile all of Christian belief with all of Islam?" Ann Holmes
Redding told The Seattle Times in an article June 17. "At the most basic
level, I understand the two religions to be compatible. That's all I
R. Albert Mohler Jr., on his blog June 20, said that in
order to believe Christianity and Islam are congruent, Redding is
explicitly denying what the Bible teaches.
"This is yet another
reminder of the basic principle that religious liberals can negotiate
themselves to any position they desire," Mohler wrote at albertmohler.com.
"Once you commit yourself to a methodology of denying Scripture and
orthodox Christian doctrine, you can declare yourself to be a Christian
and a Muslim, a Christian and a Druid, or a Christian and an Atheist for
Redding, a priest for more than 20 years, said she
became enamored with Islam in the fall of 2005 when a local Muslim leader
spoke and then prayed at St. Mark's Episcopal Cathedral, where she was
employed as director of faith formation. The way he fell prostrate on the
floor captured her attention because it illustrated total surrender to
Allah, she said.
Later, she heard another Muslim leader chanting a
prayer, and the chanting appealed to her, Redding said. In March 2006, she
made a Muslim profession of faith, stating there is only one God and
Muhammad is his messenger. Now Redding has no trouble using Allah and God
"It's the same person, praying to the same God,"
she told The Times.
Ralph Webb, director of the Institute on
Religion and Democracy's Anglican Action program, noted that the
"Episcopal Church continues to find new, creative ways to allow for
heterodox faith variations at the local level. First, there was a 'local
option' for same-sex blessings in the Episcopal Church. Now there's
apparently an unofficial 'local option' for clergy who profess dual
The idea that a person can become a Muslim while remaining
an Episcopal priest in good standing trivializes both faiths, Webb
Redding, 55, grew up in Pennsylvania, and her father was one
of the lawyers who argued the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court
case that led to the desegregation of the nation's schools, The Times
said. She graduated from Brown University and then earned a Ph.D. in New
Testament from Union Theological Seminary in New York City.
African American who wears her hair in dreadlocks, Redding told The Times
that becoming a Muslim was like coming home after years in predominantly
"To walk into Al-Islam and be reminded that
there are more people of color in the world than white people, that in
itself is a relief," she said of the local Muslim worship
Among her medley of beliefs is that the Trinity is an idea
about God and cannot be taken literally, The Times reported. Redding also
does not believe Jesus and God are the same, and she believes Jesus is the
Son of God in the same way all humans are children of God and that Jesus
is divine like all humans are divine because God dwells in all
Jesus is unique, she believes, because He best lived out
the qualities of someone filled with God. Redding said she does believe
Jesus died on the cross and was resurrected, though she doesn't yet know
how to reconcile that to Islam.
"That's something I'll find a
challenge the rest of my life," she told The Times.
Muhammad, she's still getting to know him.
Redding said she doesn't
care what people think about her embracing two major world religions
because they can't take away her baptism and no one can dispute her Muslim
profession of faith.
Redding typically carries a black headscarf
with her, she said, so she'll be prepared for prayers five times a day. "I
pray not to cause scandal or bring shame upon either of my traditions,"
Whether God or Allah is supposed to answer that prayer,
it isn't working, her critics say, considering that she has caused both
controversy and shame, especially upon a Christian denomination that is
facing a schism with the larger Anglican Communion over the issue of
"The blurring of Christian distinctives is evidence
of a spiritual confusion that can only harm Episcopalians," Webb, of IRD,
said. "And while it's been said that 'all politics are local,' Bishop
[Vincent] Warner's acceptance of Rev. Redding's syncretism compromises the
"The Episcopal Church's unofficial acceptance of
clergy with dual faiths represents inclusion run amok," Webb added in a
June 20 news release. "It clearly illustrates the overwhelming gap in
faith and practice between the Episcopal Church and the majority of the
Anglican Communion -- not to mention the universal Christian
Mohler said the only way to be both a Christian and a
Muslim is to completely redefine what it means to be both Christian and
"As Aristotle famously argued, two contradictory
propositions cannot be simultaneously true," Mohler, president of Southern
Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., said. "Nevertheless, the
outright denial of the principle of non-contradiction is one of the
hallmarks of the postmodern age. Postmoderns gladly embrace contradictions
and refuse any responsibility to resolve