A real live preacher on empathizing with Imam Rauf

Gordon Atkinson, who often blogs as Real Live Preacher (whose drawings I really like), has already walked a mile in the shoes of Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf.  Perhaps we could learn from his journey:

I would be interested in comments from you about something else, though. Having been a clergyman for many years, I can’t help but watch the drama of Park 51 unfold with a different perspective. Because I know what it’s like to carry someone else’s reputation.


When I was a Baptist minister, I could never get comfortable with the fact that Fred Phelps was a colleague. Whenever the people from Westboro Baptist Church were on the news with their hateful signs, I knew that some of Fred’s reputation was going to rub off on me.

Whether it’s fair or not, clergy share their reputations. Many people in our culture have never met, much less befriended a preacher. What little experience they have with ministers comes from television and the occasional wedding or funeral. When someone meets a Baptist preacher for the first time, they often have some preconceived notions.

That’s just the way it is.

Ah, shades of Bruce Hornsby.  More at the link above.

2 Responses to A real live preacher on empathizing with Imam Rauf

  1. lowerleavell says:

    I can relate personally with this pastor as I was a Baptist pastor for three years. I spent one evening talking to our people about Westboro Baptist and what happens when we misrepresent the Gospel – the name of Jesus is really what is hurt.

    I agreed with this post and I appreciate you posting it, Ed.

    We ran into this in our church where people dismissed us offhand simply because we were Baptist and automatically associated us with Westboro or some King James Bible Only groups in town (if you’re unfamiliar with this group…count yourself fortunate).

    I say that, especially to Nic, in that my comments on the other thread aren’t without walking a mile in Imam Rauf’s shoes to a very limited degree. I have first hand experience of being associated with a group that doesn’t represent your position as brought out in this article that Ed posted. I identified with it very strongly.

    For my part, if the family of a fallen soldier requested that our church not attend the graveside service or come anywhere close to the grounds because they (even wrongly) associated us with Westboro because we were Baptist, what would the right response be? “I HAVE MY RIGHTS! You can’t tell us what to do! You’ll ruin the 1st ammendment you bigot!” No. I COULD do that because it’s legal…but I shouldn’t. Grace. Peace. Respect. And above all…Love should rule the day. This is my whole point in the other thread.

    Imam Rauf has a right – and they probably will exercize it…I just think it’s tragic and counterproductive that they would do so.


  2. Nick K says:


    Since the debate erupted, the veterans of VoteVets.org kept out of the argument over the planned Community Center for Muslims in Lower Manhattan (falsely called the “Ground Zero Mosque”). Initially, we believed this was a local issue for New Yorkers to discuss. Our thought was that we have as much right to tell New York where or where not to build a Muslim community center as we have to tell Sheboygan, Wisconsin where to build a YMCA. Besides, when innocent American Muslims died in the 9/11 attacks, and on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan, we figured rational minds would prevail and the debate would subside.

    We were wrong. The debate hasn’t been confined to New York, nor have rational minds prevailed (yet). Therefore, we can no longer stay silent.


Please play nice in the Bathtub -- splash no soap in anyone's eyes. While your e-mail will not show with comments, note that it is our policy not to allow false e-mail addresses. Comments with non-working e-mail addresses may be deleted.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: