Petition 81393

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Promoting Christian-Muslim Relations (81393-IC-R9999)

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Promoting Good Long-Term Christian-Muslims Relations
WHEREAS, all Christians in every part of the world are a part of the same body (1 Corinthians 12:12-31, Ephesians 4:1-16), across national and cultural boundaries, and when one part of the body suffers we all suffer with it (! Corinthians 12: 26); and
WHEREAS, Scripture teaches that when we encounter people in serious physical need, we must not merely wish them well while doing nothing practical to address their problem (James 2:12-17); and
WHEREAS, the recent media publicity surrounding Abdul Rahman’s forced expulsion from his home country of Afghanistan for his conversion to Christianity focused attention on the violent repression of religious freedom that exists in many Islamic-dominated societies; and  
WHEREAS, according to the U.S. State Department’s 2007 Report on International Religious Freedom, Christians in numerous Islamic nations suffer from such legal repressions as systematic religious discrimination, limits or outright bans on evangelism, and outlawing conversion from Islam to any other faith, the latter of which can be punishable by death in some countries; and
WHEREAS, according to Human Rights Watch, in Saudi Arabia, the country every Muslim is obligated to visit if able, “public demonstration of religious affiliation or sentiment is forbidden” apart from Sunni Islam, with tight restrictions on the religious expression of Shi’a Muslims, a total ban on houses of worship for non-Muslims and foreigners subjected to imprisonment or deportation if suspect of evangelizing Muslims; and  
WHEREAS, evangelism is a commandment for Christians of all nations, cultures, and times; and
WHEREAS, we believe that whenever anyone embraces authentic Christian faith, it is cause for great rejoicing; and
WHEREAS, we believe that basic freedom of conscience and religion is a fundamental human right that should never be repressed by any government; and
WHEREAS, the Qur’an itself teaches that “There shall be no compulsion in religion”; and  
WHEREAS, interfaith dialogue can be helpful for dispelling negative stereotypes, enhancing mutual understanding, facilitating cooperation on joint concerns, and advancing justice and respect for all people; and
WHEREAS, the leadership of The United Methodist Church has already spoken out strongly for equal and fair treatment of Muslims in places in which they are not in the majority (see especially #78 and #315 of the 2004 Book of Resolutions); and
WHEREAS, Muslims leaders and groups generally have more influence with fellow Muslims than non-Muslims;  
Be it therefore resolved that the 2008 General Conference hereby affirms its solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Christ around the world who suffer severe persecution and even the threat of death simply for choosing to follow our Lord; and  
Be it further resolved, that we invite our Muslim friends and neighbors to join us in advocating for freedom of conscience for ALL people around the world; and
Be it further resolved, that the General Commission on Christian Unity and Interreligious Concerns is encouraged to make the building of interfaith alliances to promote global religious freedom a central long-term goal of future dialogue efforts with Muslim leaders and groups; and
Be it further resolved, that we make the same recommendation to other United Methodists involved in regional and local Christian-Muslim dialogue; and  
Be it further resolved, that we reaffirm our commitment to seeking good relations of mutual respect with our Muslim neighbors and to advocating fair and just treatment of them.