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Inclusion Run Amok: A Muslim/Episcopal Priest

Contact: Loralei Coyle 202-682-4131, 202-905-6852 cell, lcoyle@ird-renew.org; Radio Interviews: Jeff Walton, jwalton@ird-renew.org; both with the Institute on Religion and Democracy

WASHINGTON, June 20 /Christian Newswire/ -- An Episcopal priest in Washington state recently announced that she is both a Christian and a Muslim. The Rev. Ann Holmes Redding of Seattle made her profession of faith in Islam in March 2006. Episcopal Church Center employees told the Seattle Times that a person of dual faiths can serve as Episcopal clergy at the diocesan bishop's discretion. The Rt. Rev. Vincent Warner, bishop of the Diocese of Olympia, reportedly accepts Redding's dual faiths; consequently, she remains a priest in good standing within the diocese.

Ralph Webb, Director of the IRD's Anglican Action program, commented:

"The Episcopal Church continues to find new, creative ways to allow for heterodox faith variations at the local level. First, there was a 'local option' for same-sex blessings in the Episcopal Church. Now there's apparently an unofficial 'local option' for clergy who profess dual faiths.

"Rev. Redding certainly is free to pursue a spiritual path of her own choosing. But when she was ordained as an Episcopal priest, she accepted a charge to 'boldly proclaim the gospel of salvation; and rightly administer the sacraments of the New Covenant.' How can she 'boldly proclaim the gospel' of Jesus Christ's death on the cross for the sins of the world and subsequent resurrection when Islam denies both events? How can she 'rightly administer the sacraments of [a] … covenant' antithetical to Muslim beliefs, which see Jesus only as a prophet, not the savior of the world? Rev. Redding, Bishop Warner, and the Episcopal Church need to take such questions seriously.

"Even the Episcopal Church's baptismal service asks all Christians to '[c]onfess the faith of Christ crucified, proclaim his resurrection, and share with us in his eternal priesthood.' The idea that a person can become a Muslim while remaining an Episcopal priest in good standing trivializes both faiths.

"The blurring of Christian distinctives is evidence of a spiritual confusion that can only harm Episcopalians. And while it's been said that 'all politics are local,' Bishop Warner's acceptance of Rev. Redding's syncretism compromises the whole church. The Episcopal Church's unofficial acceptance of clergy with dual faiths represents inclusion run amok. It clearly illustrates the overwhelming gap in faith and practice between the Episcopal Church and the majority of the Anglican Communion—not to mention the universal Christian Church."