Bryan Fischer has a message for Pope Francis. The Holy Father should not, according to Fischer, have allowed Muslim prayers to come from the Vatican because they were praying to a “demon god.”
Fischer, radio host and director of issues analysis for the ultra-right wing American Family Association, was criticizing the Pope’s historic outreach to Israeli President Shimon Perez and Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas, who were invited to pray and speak for peace at the Vatican.
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I have TWO messages for Bryan Fischer:
1. The prayers were not “in the Vatican.” Published photos of the event clearly showed the three leaders sitting comfortably in the Vatican Gardens. That’s like, in the backyard under the trees. Not in the great St. Peter’s Basilica. Not in the presence of Christ in the Eucharist.
And that’s good, I thought, both because it wouldn’t be a misuse of a Catholic church, and because it wouldn’t offend the religious sensibilities of the men of other faiths.
Fischer said, according to the Washington Times:
“No Christian, in space over which he has authority, should ever willingly allow another spiritual leader to invite the presence of demons into his sanctuary…. This is for the simple reason that if they are invited, they will come. Thus any clergyman, whether an evangelical pastor or the pope himself, compromises the spiritual integrity of his sanctuary through an interfaith prayer service with Muslims.”
2. Interfaith gatherings are not, as Fischer suggests, “cause for alarm”. There might be some other way for people of different faiths to come together, to influence one another; but short of being in the same place at the same time, I sure don’t know how Christians can live out Jesus’ command to “Go forth into all the nations.”
Earlier this week, I posted on social media a quote from Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, who said:
“If you want to make peace you don’t talk to your friends. You talk to your enemies.”
That’s it exactly. Mr. Fischer apparently wants to hole up in his Christian ghetto; but that approach makes it impossible (doesn’t it?) to convert the world to Christ. Better to take a page from the Holy Father, and meet people where they are–recognizing our differences, but each respecting the other.
In a statement posted on Right Wing Watch, Fischer said in part:
“When Muslims pray, they are praying to a god that they refer to as Allah, who we know from the Scriptures is not the true and living God, but is a demon god…. Remember, not every being that occupies the unseen world, the spiritual world, is a good guy, is a good spirit.”
Well, I’d have to agree that the Muslims pray to Allah, and their understanding of God is quite different from that of Christians; but “a demon god”?
The thing is, though, Pope Francis is a world player. In bringing together avowed enemies with two discordant worldviews, and then getting them to smile at one another, and to pray together to God as they understand Him, Francis has advanced the cause of peace and made it possible for men of very different backgrounds to learn from one another. I, for one, would never have expected to see the warm embrace that was the result.
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Let us pray for Pope Francis, pray for President Shimon Perez and Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas.
Let us pray for peace in the Middle East.
Let us pray that Christ’s prayer to the Father, that all may be one, will be fulfilled in our lifetime.