CAIRO - Leaders of the three Abrahimic faiths have come together tin the south-eastern US state of Tennessee to discuss ways of overcoming differences and promote friendship.
"We have to form relationships so that we can respond effectively to a crisis, Daniel Tutt, a Washington-based interfaith activist and writer, told USA Today.Tutt was among attendees at a gathering grouping Muslims, Christians and Jews at Christ Church Cathedral.
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The event, attended by about 170 people, was the latest meeting of the Family of Abraham, an interfaith group based in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.
The group was created in response to a controversy over the construction of an Islamic center in Murfreesboro, 40 miles to the south.
The original organizers were part of a Jewish-Muslim study group called the Circle of Friends. They wanted to show that Middle Tennessee welcomes people of all faiths.
"Part of the surprise has been that so many places have been open to us," Bernard Werthan, one of the event's organizers, said.
"No one has turned us down."
The Islamic center was the center of a fierce public opposition since plans for its construction were unveiled in 2010.
Opponents had sought court rulings to stop its building, arguing that Islam is not a religion protected by the US Constitution, and that the mosque would promote Shari`ah.
After a long court battle, a federal judge issued a temporary restraining order in June to allow the Muslim community in Tennessee to use the mosque, about 30 miles from Nashville, for worshipping.
Last November, the Muslim community finally celebrated the opening of the long-sought mosque to accommodate their religious needs.
Activists urged representatives of the three Abrahamic faiths to move from tolerating one another to developing authentic friendships.
"Diversity is just a starting point to tackling things that are bigger than ourselves, activist Tutt said.
The Rev. Timothy Kimbrough, rector of Christ Church, said the program fits with his Episcopal congregation's ministry.
"Part of the mission of a cathedral is to be at the spiritual crossroads of a community," he said.
"This program certainly fits that mission."
Imam Yusuf Abdullah of Masjid Al-Islam agreed, saying he appreciated the support that Muslims have received from people of other faiths.
He believes that these initiatives would help Muslims to be more proactive in talking about their faith.
"We, as Muslims, have to tell our story, Abdullah said.
US Muslims, estimated at between six to eight million, have been sensing a growing hostility in recent years.
A recent report by CAIR, the University of California and Berkeley's Center for Race and Gender found that Islamophobia in the US is on the rise.A recent Gallup poll had found that 43 percent of Americans Nationwide admitted to feeling at least a little prejudice against Muslims.
Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net