What African Evangelicals think of Florida's Quran-burning preacher
US Evangelicals are influential in Africa, but African church members focus on building schools and hospitals, and interfaith dialogue, rather than the Rev. Terry Jones's burning of sacred books.
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Even when extremist members of one faith attack the members of another faith, inter-religious dialogue has been norm, and this trend is strengthening. Where American ideologues might view Islam to be a threat, African pastors and imams view each other’s faith as holding invaluable instruments of reconciliation and peace, including forgiveness, mercy, and love.Skip to next paragraph
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While Africans have their shortcomings, when it comes to matters of faith, pastors and imams have a track record of dialogue rather than provocation. Keeping these channels open gives Africans many meeting points; when used effectively, dialogue results in peaceful co-existence.
In northern Nigeria, where an Islamist group called Boko Haram started burning Christian churches, some Muslims volunteered to act as guards for Christians as they prayed. Christians returned the good gesture and protected the Muslims during their prayers.
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In Libya, at the height of the war to oust the late dictator, Muammar Qaddafi, the head of Libya's tiny Roman Catholic Church, Bishop Giovanni Martinelli, turned to his Muslim "brothers" to protect the Christian community. Catholics have run several medical and social centers in Libya for years, activities which had endeared them to Libyans. Despite anger among Qaddafi's followers toward Europeans, whose NATO bombers were used against Qaddafi's forces, there were no attacks against Christian churches during the war.
Whether Jones proceeds with this plan or abandons it, it is clear his approach is not finding much following in the continent. For many African Christians, this is a needless, reckless, and ungodly stunt.
Now as the clock ticks toward the pastor’s deadline, the question is whether there is anything he can learn from Evangelical Christians in Africa.
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