Presbyterian minister calls for
better understanding of Islam
The Layman, December 7, 2009
Advocating religious harmony in advance of the Parliament on the World’s Religions, a PCUSA minister has called for better understanding of the Islamic faith.
The Rev. Dirk Ficca
“Talk about a tradition that is misunderstood, talk about a tradition that is maligned, talk about a tradition where one percent of the tradition has given the entire community a bad name – it is Islam,” said the Rev. Dirk Ficca, executive director of the Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions, in a BBC story. “And so we want to give reputable Islamic scholars and leaders the chance first of all to share what they believe Islam is all about.”
Taking place this year in Melbourne, Australia, a Parliament of the World’s Religions has convened every five years since 1993. Billed as the world’s largest interfaith gathering, the event will bring together delegates from 80 countries to address social concerns and work toward cross-cultural dialogue and understanding.
Among the issues, for which participants will seek a faithful response, are: indigenous reconciliation, the environment, global poverty, education and peace. Another of the gathering’s goals is to promote understanding and respect for faith and cultural differences.
Also quoted on the Muslim news site IslamOnline, Ficca said the Dec. 3-9 event features 40 programs on Islam and the West, with a goal of clearing up misconceptions. Ficca makes no mention of Christianity in the BBC or IslamOnline articles, but does praise the religious diversity of host city Melbourne in an ABC News article.
“We think Melbourne has something to teach the world,” he said.
According to its Web site, approximately 450 events were planned for the 7-day event. Among the speakers listed on the Web site are former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, Sojourners President and CEO Jim Wallis and the Dalai Lama, who will give the closing address.
In addition to his work with the Parliament on the World’s Religions, Ficca is known for his controversial statements to the Presbyterian Peacemaking Conference in 2000 that Jesus is one of many paths to salvation.