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2. The Rev. Dr. Michael Kinnamon, general secretary for the National Council of Churches
Kinnamon's concern is not radical Islam but radical American Koran-burning Christians whose statements misinform Muslims in the Middle East about Christianity and so endanger Christians living in the Middle East. The National Council of Churches represents more than 50 million people in mainline pews in the U.S. and strongly supports the mosque. Members extend from Presbyterians to Methodists to Syrian Orthodox and Coptic Orthodox, so they represent Middle Eastern Christians.
"We are getting word from Christian communities in other parts of the world that extremist Muslims in countries like Egypt and Indonesia are threatening them because of extremist voices in [the U.S.]. Some of the extremist Muslim communities use extremist Christian voices in [the U.S.] as a pretext for putting pressure on Christians in their own areas. So it is important for moderate Christian voices to speak out [in the U.S.], also in more ways that welcome Muslim neighbors in order to protect Christians in other places."
"It's important for people Baptists, Methodists, others in [the U.S.] who consider themselves the only Christians to realize that is not the case. If they are really serious about giving Christian witness, then they need to pay attention to what Christians are saying from other parts of the world and other parts of the church."
"[We've often heard,] 'Why don't the moderate Muslim voices speak out against terrorism?' Well, here we have it: a center that's devoted to reconciliation that witnesses against terrorists and against Muslims who use the Islamic faith as a pretext for that. And yet we are shutting that voice that makes no sense to me."
"I got a letter: 'How can you say the things you are saying when Christians wouldn't be allowed to build a church in Mecca?' That's the point. [The U.S. is] not Saudi Arabia. We ought to act like it, protecting freedom of religion."
"Undoubtedly there are people in our pews who disagree. And I understand. But at the same time, we always have to stand for religious freedom."