A church that chose a reading from the Koran for its Epiphany service has been criticized by the Queen’s chaplain, who said the reading was inappropriate because Christians are “suffering dreadful persecution at the hands of Muslims in the Middle East.”
In a letter to the Times, Rev Gavin Ashenden berated the decision by Glasgow’s St Mary’s Cathedral to use a passage of the Islamic holy book explaining why Jesus is not the son of God.
It picked the reading as part of its January 6 service, the day marking the end of what is commonly known as the Twelve Days of Christmas.
In the Christian tradition the day celebrates the revelation of God incarnate as Jesus Christ, but Muslims regard Jesus as just another prophet.
“The justification offered that it engages some kind of reciprocity founders on the understandable refusal of Islamic communities to read passages of the Gospel in Muslim prayers announcing the Lordship of Christ,” Rev Ashenden wrote.
“Quite apart from the wide distress (some would say blasphemy) caused by denigrating Jesus in Christian worship, apologies may be due to the Christians suffering dreadful persecution at the hands of Muslims in the Middle East and elsewhere.
“To have the core of a faith for which they have suffered deeply treated so casually by senior western clergy such as the provost of Glasgow, is unlikely to have a positive outcome,” he added.
The provost of St Mary’s, Rev Kelvin Holdsworth, was reportedly forced to call the police after members of his parish were targeted with “hate-filled messages” from far-right extremists after the service.
His boss, the Bishop of St Andrews, Dunkeld and Dunblane, the Most Rev David Chillingworth, confirmed that a review of the service would be led by the Scottish Episcopal Church and that the congregation was “deeply distressed at the offense which has been caused.”
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