By Melissa Wuske
Charity from a Different Faith
Reports of damaged and destroyed churches are deeply disturbing to Christians, and many believers move to action in response. But a perhaps less familiar story is how Muslims are also troubled and respond with charity when Christian churches face harm. Several such incidents happened this year during Ramadan, a time when Muslims worldwide fast and seek God—and Christians worldwide commit to pray that Muslims find faith in Christ.
St. Catherine of Siena Church in Mississauga, Canada, was vandalized by a man who has schizophrenia and is a member of the local Muslim community. “The guy who did it ripped pages out of the Bible,” said Imam Hamid Slimi of the Sayeda Khadija Centre. “He broke the altar. He threw the cross. When I saw this, I thought it was pure injustice. It was just wrong.” So Slimi and his congregation raised $5,000 in one day to help their neighbors.
Muslims also joined in the vast multifaith efforts to repair churches burned by arsonists across the South in the wake of the church shooting in Charleston, South Carolina. A fundraising page on LaunchGood has raised over $100,000. On it, Imam Zaid Shakir said, “We want to let our African American brothers and sisters know that we stand in solidarity with them during this dark hour.”
America’s Relationship with God
Does the United States have a special relationship with God? According to a survey by LifeWay Research, 53 percent of those surveyed believed “God has a special relationship with the USA.”
That response is prevalent among evangelical Christians (67 percent agreeing), particularly those 45 years or older (71 percent). The proportion is also higher among women, African Americans, Southerners, and those with a high school degree or less.
Ed Stetzer, executive director of LifeWay Research, offers insights into the findings: “Some Christians view America as an archetype of biblical Israel, chosen and uniquely blessed by God. That’s why Christians sometimes speak of God ‘healing our land,’ when most theologians say this American ‘land’ is not in the same category as the ‘land’ of biblical Israel.”
In addition, the study found that 35 percent of respondents strongly disagree with the statement “America’s best days are behind us.” This outlook is common among Americans with graduate degrees (about 75 percent).
Record-Breaking Numbers of Syrian Refugees
The crisis in Syria is now deemed “the biggest refugee population from a single conflict in a generation,” according to António Guterres, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. According to the UNHCR, more than 4 million refugees have left Syria and 7.6 million more have been displaced within the country—and both numbers are expected to keep rising.
Nearly half of the refugees are now in Turkey. “Worsening conditions are driving growing numbers towards Europe and further afield, but the overwhelming majority remain in the region,” including Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, and Egypt, Guterres said. “We cannot afford to let them and the communities hosting them slide further into desperation.”
Punctuation Wins Appeal
Andrea Cammelleri protested a ticket received for leaving her truck parked in West Jefferson, Ohio. The law prohibited parking “any motor vehicle camper, trailer, farm implement and/or non-motorized vehicle” for more than 24 hours. Eventually Judge Robert Hendrickson granted Cammelleri the win at the appeal. “By utilizing rules of grammar and employing the common meaning of terms,” wrote Hendrickson, “‘motor vehicle camper’ has a clear definition that does not produce an absurd result. If the village desires a different reading, it should amend the ordinance and insert a comma between the phrase ‘motor vehicle’ and the word ‘camper.’”
Melissa Wuske is a freelance editor and writer. She and her husband, Shawn, live and minister in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts. Find her work online (melissaannewuske.com).