Posted on Jun 22, 2007 | by Erin Roach, Baptist
SEATTLE, Wash. (BP)--In what may be the first
claim of its kind, an Episcopal priest in Seattle
says she's both a Christian and a Muslim. What's
more, her bishop finds the claim exciting and
considers her still in good standing.
"Why would I spend time to try to reconcile all of
Christian belief with all of Islam?" Ann Holmes
Redding told The Seattle Times in an article June
17. "At the most basic level, I understand the two
religions to be compatible. That's all I need."
R. Albert Mohler Jr., on his blog June 20, said that
in order to believe Christianity and Islam are
congruent, Redding is explicitly denying what the
"This is yet another reminder of the basic principle
that religious liberals can negotiate themselves to
any position they desire," Mohler wrote at
albertmohler.com. "Once you commit yourself to a
methodology of denying Scripture and orthodox
Christian doctrine, you can declare yourself to be a
Christian and a Muslim, a Christian and a Druid, or
a Christian and an Atheist for that matter."
Redding, a priest for more than 20 years, said she
became enamored with Islam in the fall of 2005 when
a local Muslim leader spoke and then prayed at St.
Mark's Episcopal Cathedral, where she was employed
as director of faith formation. The way he fell
prostrate on the floor captured her attention
because it illustrated total surrender to Allah, she
Later, she heard another Muslim leader chanting a
prayer, and the chanting appealed to her, Redding
said. In March 2006, she made a Muslim profession of
faith, stating there is only one God and Muhammad is
his messenger. Now Redding has no trouble using
Allah and God interchangeably.
"It's the same person, praying to the same God," she
told The Times.
Ralph Webb, director of the Institute on Religion
and Democracy's Anglican Action program, noted that
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
The idea that a person can become a Muslim while
remaining an Episcopal priest in good standing
trivializes both faiths, Webb said.
Redding, 55, grew up in Pennsylvania, and her father
was one of the lawyers who argued the Brown v. Board
of Education Supreme Court case that led to the
desegregation of the nation's schools, The Times
said. She graduated from Brown University and then
earned a Ph.D. in New Testament from Union
Theological Seminary in New York City.
An African American who wears her hair in
dreadlocks, Redding told The Times that becoming a
Muslim was like coming home after years in
predominantly white congregations.
"To walk into Al-Islam and be reminded that there
are more people of color in the world than white
people, that in itself is a relief," she said of the
local Muslim worship center.
Among her medley of beliefs is that the Trinity is
an idea about God and cannot be taken literally, The
Times reported. Redding also does not believe Jesus
and God are the same, and she believes Jesus is the
Son of God in the same way all humans are children
of God and that Jesus is divine like all humans are
divine because God dwells in all humans.
Jesus is unique, she believes, because He best lived
out the qualities of someone filled with God.
Redding said she does believe Jesus died on the
cross and was resurrected, though she doesn't yet
know how to reconcile that to Islam.
"That's something I'll find a challenge the rest of
my life," she told The Times.
As for Muhammad, she's still getting to know him.
Redding said she doesn't care what people think
about her embracing two major world religions
because they can't take away her baptism and no one
can dispute her Muslim profession of faith.
Redding typically carries a black headscarf with
her, she said, so she'll be prepared for prayers
five times a day. "I pray not to cause scandal or
bring shame upon either of my traditions," she said.
Whether God or Allah is supposed to answer that
prayer, it isn't working, her critics say,
considering that she has caused both controversy and
shame, especially upon a Christian denomination that
is facing a schism with the larger Anglican
Communion over the issue of homosexuality.
"The blurring of Christian distinctives is evidence
of a spiritual confusion that can only harm
Episcopalians," Webb, of IRD, said. "And while it's
been said that 'all politics are local,' Bishop
[Vincent] 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," Webb added in a June 20 news release. "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."
Mohler said the only way to be both a Christian and
a Muslim is to completely redefine what it means to
be both Christian and Muslim.
"As Aristotle famously argued, two contradictory
propositions cannot be simultaneously true," Mohler,
president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
in Louisville, Ky., said. "Nevertheless, the
outright denial of the principle of
non-contradiction is one of the hallmarks of the
postmodern age. Postmoderns gladly embrace
contradictions and refuse any responsibility to