The limits of religious unity


The events of Sept. 11 prompted an unprecedented number of interfaith services nationwide, featuring leaders of different religions praying for peace and remembering the more than 4,100 terrorist attack victims.


But some religious leaders have questioned the appropriateness of their clergy participating in such gatherings, including the Sept. 23 "A Prayer for America" service at Yankee Stadium.


"…There's a movement afoot toward a kind of universalism that evangelicals do not accept, that we all pray to the same God and have different paths and the result is the same," said Richard Cizik, spokesman for the National Association of Evangelicals.


"…We take issue not so much with interfaith services but with the impression they leave in the minds of millions of Americans who are confused about the nature of God to begin with," Cizik said. "We want it understood that Christians, Buddhists and Muslims are not praying to the same god. Allah is not Jehovah."


The Rev. Mark Dever, pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Northeast Washington, said he has never participated in an interfaith service and does not intend to.


"I don't want to be seen approving or encouraging prayer to Allah or to a Hindu god," said Dever, who calls himself a "conservative evangelical."


By appearing to be universal in scope, interfaith services "belittle differences" between religions, he said. "The Allah I know is not at all the God of the Bible. I'd be lying if I say they are [the same]…