Hindu Vivek Kendra
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Southern Baptist leader won't reject slurs on Islam

Southern Baptist leader won't reject slurs on Islam

Author: AP
Publication: CNN News
Date: June 12, 2002

The new head of the Southern Baptist Convention has rejected calls to repudiate what a Muslim group is calling "bigoted" and "hate-filled" statements made by one of its pastors.

The Rev. Jack Graham, elected the convention's president on Tuesday, said the Rev. Jerry Vines' comments about Islam were "accurate."

Vines, a former convention president, told conventioners at a pastors' conference Monday that many of this country's problems can be blamed on religious pluralism.

Pluralists "would have us to believe that Islam is just as good as Christianity, but I'm here to tell you, ladies and gentlemen, that Islam is not just as good as Christianity," Vines, pastor of First Baptist Church of Jacksonville, Florida, told several thousand delegates at the gathering in St. Louis.

"Islam was founded by Muhammad, a demon-possessed pedophile who had 12 wives -- and his last one was a 9-year-old girl. And I will tell you Allah is not Jehovah either. Jehovah's not going to turn you into a terrorist that'll try to bomb people and take the lives of thousands and thousands of people."

Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations, said the comments were outrageous.

"It's really unfortunate that a top leader in a mainstream Christian church ... would use such hate-filled and bigoted language in describing the faith of one-fifth of the world's population," Hooper said Tuesday. "This is the level of bigotry that requires a clear statement from the top leadership of the Southern Baptist Convention."

Graham, of Plano, Texas, said Vines' statement "is an accurate statement" and that he would not condemn his colleague.

"I will not respond to Dr. Vines' statement, other than to say that anyone who follows any path who wants to go to heaven should look carefully at who they're following and what they believe," he told reporters.

William Merrell, a spokesman for the SBC executive committee, said the comments were made outside the actual meeting, and that it was not the SBC's place to comment.

Ingrid Mattson, vice president of the Islamic Society of North America and a professor of Islamic studies at Hartford Seminary in Connecticut, called the comments "medieval." She said statements like this from such high-placed religious leaders can lead to violence against Muslims.

"It makes me wonder what's the hateful religion right now that we should be worried about," she said.

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