Roseburg United Methodist pastor Robert Flaherty will lead a class on
Christianity and Islam starting Monday.

The Rev. Robert Flaherty once had a Muslim man in Saudi Arabia call him “the
closest thing I’ve ever seen to a Muslim in a Christian.”

That feeling of brotherhood and humanity is what Flaherty hopes to convey with a
series of classes on Christianity and Islam beginning Jan. 3.

Flaherty, pastor at Roseburg’s First United Methodist Church, will lead the
five-class discussion on the two philosophies. While they have coexisted as two
of the world’s oldest known religions, they are often characterized by their

Flaherty even put that to a test on an Internet message board. He asked
Christians there what the word Islam made them think. Answers included,
“terrorist,” “Shiite,” “Taliban” and “jihad.”

“Until we, on both sides, are willing to stop these negative characterizations
… we’re just perpetuating animosity,” Flaherty said.

Flaherty has firsthand knowledge of many religions, including Islam. He helped
organize a “gathering of many faiths” for more than a year in Roseburg, through
May 2004.

In July, he attended the Parliament of the World’s Religions in Barcelona,
Spain. Around 8,000 people attended and Flaherty said he learned about
spirituality, fundamentalism and Islam.

Flaherty also served as an active duty Army chaplain for nine years, acting as
supervisor for all religions, including the Muslim community.

It was in Saudi Arabia during the Gulf War that Flaherty encountered the
aforementioned Muslim man who accepted him, even calling him his “Muslim

WHAT: Five-week series of classes on Christianity and Islam, presented by the
Rev. Robert Flaherty.

WHERE: First United Methodist Church, Fellowship Hall, 1771 W. Harvard Ave.,

WHEN: 7 p.m., Mondays from Jan. 3 through Jan. 31. The class agenda will be
repeated at 1:30 p.m. on Wednesdays from Jan. 5 through Feb. 2.

RESERVATIONS: The class is free and nondenominational, but please call 672-1629
to reserve a space


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