Part of a message posted on the outdoor sign of a south Wichita church proclaims, "Islam is a lie."
A newsletter published by Wichita's largest Protestant church contains a column that asks the question: "Can Muslims be Good Americans?" The answer, according to the article, is no.
Other Wichita churches hold town hall meetings and weeks-long seminars to explore the meaning of Islam and to publicly examine views that local Muslims say are inaccurate.
Each example illustrates how -- six years after Sept. 11 and five years after the start of the war in Iraq -- Islam remains a topic of concern among some local churches.
"I think a lot of people are asking themselves, 'What is Islam about? Why do we see so much violence from a particular strain of the religion?' " said the Rev. Kate Moorehead, rector of St. James Episcopal Church, which last fall held a nine-week course called "Facing Islam."
"So how do we understand the religion so we can begin some kind of inter-religious dialogue? We can't speak to one another if we don't understand one another's belief system."
Local Muslims say they continue to welcome the opportunity to talk with churches about their beliefs, and to stress that the terrorist actions by Muslims are committed by extremists -- a minority that includes people who are not representative of their faith.
Churches share views
But not everyone believes that, and some churches -- or church members -- are sharing their own beliefs about the religion.
For example, at Spirit One Christian Center on East Harry, the church marquee recently read: "What would Jesus say to a Muslim?" It cited scriptural references that included John 14:6:"... I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."
The same sign once included the message "Islam is a lie."
Pastor Mark Holick said the church focuses on Islam because "Islam wants to see the destruction of Christianity."
"I don't know how else to say it, but that is their goal," he said.
"If somebody wants you dead, you ought to know."
In another case, volunteers from Central Christian Church published a list of reasons why a Muslim cannot be a good American. The list was in the January 2008 issue of the Central Christian Observer, a newsletter that says it is "keeping an eye on America from the Christian Viewpoint."
Among the reasons cited in the column, written by "author unknown," that a Muslim could not be a good American was "his allegiance is to Allah, the moon god of Arabia," and "his allegiance is to the five pillars of Islam and the Quran." (MORE)