DR Ann Holmes Redding, a priest at St Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral in Seattle, has joined the ranks of the unemployed this week after the Diocese of Rhode Island declared:
A priest of the Church cannot be both a Christian and a Muslim.
In a June 2007 interview with the Episcopal Voice, the Seattle-based Diocese of Olympia’s newspaper, Redding stunned the church by announcing she was both a Christian and a Muslim.
The way I understand Jesus is compatible with Islam. I was following Jesus and he led me into Islam.
She was also quoted on the Moonbattery blog as saying:
All I know is the calling of my heart to Islam was very much something about my identity and who I am supposed to be. I could not NOT be a Muslim.
But she’s not quite Muslim enough to give up being a “Christian” priest. Redding, who has a history of alcoholism and apparently also suffers from bigotry, is fond of the Al-Islam Centre mosque in Seattle.
The “bigotry” barb stems from Redding declaring:
To walk into Al-Islam and be reminded that there are more people of colour in the world than white people, that in itself is a relief.
“Maybe next the church can try Satanist nuns,” said MB
According to this report, the Diocese of Rhode Island immediately launched an investigation. After ascertaining that the news that Redding had become a Muslim were true, Bishop Geralyn Wolf issued a “pastoral direction” to Redding, directing her to take a year to think over her decision.
In 2008 the Rhode Island Standing Committee decided that Redding had joined a religious body not in communion with the Episcopal Church – Sunni Islam – and recommended that she be defrocked.
And this week Wolf applied the boot by imposing a “sentence of deposition” on Redding.
Redding began studying Islam in the wake of 9/11 after hearing Muslim imams speak at inter-faith events at the cathedral. A personal crisis spurred her onto a spiritual quest that ended with her publicly reciting the Shahada, the Muslim profession of faith.
The Shahada, (the statement that There is no God but Allah, and Mohammad is his prophet) does not contradict Christian doctrine, Redding told the Episcopal Voice, nor did the professions made at a Christian baptism contradict anything in Islam, for the language of the creeds and the Koran were not to be taken in a literal sense.
We Christians, in struggling to express the beauty and dignity of Jesus and the pattern of life he offers, describe him as the â€˜only begotten son of God.’ That’s how wonderful he is to us. But that is not literal.
Redding had been given until March 31, 2009 to either renounce her orders, or recant.
A statement by the diocese said:
Dr Redding did neither, and, under the Canons of the Church, Bishop Wolf was required to consider deposing Dr Redding.
The diocese said Bishop Wolf found Dr Redding to be a woman of “utmost integrity” and characterised their conversations as having been “open, honest and respectful.”
However, Bishop Wolf believes that a priest of the Church cannot be both a Christian and a Muslim. Consequently, as a result of the abandonment of the Communion of the Episcopal Church, Bishop Wolf imposed a sentence of deposition in accordance with the Canons of the Church.
Speaking to the Seattle Times after the sentence was handed down, Redding said she was saddened by the outcome, but had no regrets over the course she had taken.