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Baptists cry foul over 9/11 Cathedral ceremony: The Church of England Newspaper, Sept 16, 2011 p 7. September 19, 2011

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Washington.

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The 9/11 memorial service scheduled last Sunday for Washington’s National Cathedral turned into an ecumenical free-for-all after Baptist and Catholic leaders took offense at their exclusion from the ceremony.

“A Call to Compassion,” an interfaith prayer vigil held on 11 September, was to include President Barack Obama and the dean of the Cathedral, the Episcopal Bishop of Washington, a rabbi, Buddhist nun and incarnate lama, a Hindu priest, the president of the Islamic Society of North America and a Muslim musician.

However, Fox News reported on 6 September that America’s largest Protestant denomination — the Southern Baptists — were incensed at their exclusion. “It’s not surprising,” said Frank Page, president of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee. “There is a tragic intolerance toward Protestants and particularly toward evangelicals and I wish the president would refuse to speak unless it was more representative.

“I think it would send a very strong and very positive signal to the left-wing extremists in our country that the president ought not show up,” said Mr Page.

Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, told Fox the speakers chosen to address the nation did not represent America.

“Three-quarters of the American people identify as Christian and nearly a third of them are evangelical Christian,” Perkins said. “And yet, there is not a single evangelical on the programme.”

Richard Weinberg, the Cathedral’s director of communications, told Fox “the goal was to have interfaith representation.”

He explained that the “Cathedral itself is an Episcopal church and it stands to reason that our own clergy serve as Christian representatives,” adding that “diversity was first and foremost” a factor in the planning.

“We certainly aim to appeal to as many in the country as possible and feel that our events are not any one slice that could ever represent the entire country — but that we are doing our best commemorate the events as it fits with our mission,” Weinberg said.

Writing on his blog at the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington, Mgr Charles Pope stated the Episcopal Church’s decision to arrogate to itself the role as the representatives of Christendom was unwise. “If you ask me, and most churchgoing Catholics, if two clergy of a denomination that collectively supports abortions rights, homosexual marriage, and activity, euthanasia, and so forth can represent me, I’d say ‘No!’”

However, the hand of God appeared on 7 September to divert an ecumenical incident. A 500-ton crane removing rubble from the earthquake damaged cathedral fell over damaging three cars and two buildings. Herb Cottage, which houses the cathedral’s gift shop and Church House, an office block for diocesan officials were damaged in the accident.

The ceremony was subsequently moved to Washington’s Kennedy Center.

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