National Cathedral celebrates Muslim Friday prayers (photos)

The Washington National Cathedral invited Muslims to lead their own prayers at the cathedral for the first time Friday (Nov. 14, 2014). Photo courtesy of Lisa Helfert/Washington National Cathedral

The Washington National Cathedral invited Muslims to lead their own prayers at the cathedral for the first time Friday (Nov. 14, 2014).

Click on any photo below to view slideshow. Photos courtesy of Lisa Helfert/Washington National Cathedral

About the author

Sally Morrow

Sally Morrow joined Religion News Service in March 2012 as Photo/Multimedia Editor. She is a photographer and editor based in Kansas City. Morrow has worked as a multimedia editor and photographer at Newsday, The Des Moines Register, and the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.


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  • What happens in the ecumenical movement is that they emphasize everything they agree on, which is almost nothing, and de-emphasize everything they disagree on, which is almost everything, until the sum total of their beliefs can be stated in two sentences: “Love thy neighbor and be kind to animals.”

    and neither one not “your” love or “you”r kjindness will get you into heaven

    A Lutheran resource


  • “and neither one not “your” love or “you”r kjindness will get you into heaven”

    And this is why people don’t take the message of “Christian love” seriously.

    Ecumenicism is really better described by:
    “Play nice. Don’t act like a d-bag to people of other faiths”

  • Anyone here ever read the story Jesus told when asked,”who is my neighbor”?

    He told them a story about a Samaritan.

    It’s about time the “church” acts like the one they claim to follow.

    Good the Cathedral.

  • Hey, I’ve got no problem with the Muslims. After all, the Muslims know WHAT they believe and WHY they believe it. They take their Koran, their sacred text, seriously. In contrast, the current leaders and occupants of the WNC clearly do NOT do the same with the Bible and the Gospel. The WNC is a bad joke.

    So no disrespect intended, but let’s just throw out the professing Christians who are currently running and attending the WNC. 3-day Eviction Notice.

    No, I’m not joking, The Cathedral has been sufficiently dishonored and desecrated and even (I can’t say the word but it rhymes with “desecrated”) already, by its current leaders and occupants. Gotta stop somewhere.

    Just kick ’em out now (don’t worry, their denomination has more than enough $$$$$ to buy them another fancy setup), and let’s let some HONEST religionists take over the WNC.

    Shoot, convert it into the Last Chance Saloon if you want to. Surely the Beer-And-Burger crowd can’t do any worse than what you’re seeing now..

    Or simply turn the WNC into a parking lot and then perform an EXORCISM over the entire parking lot (even if you need to splash 20 tanker trucks full of blessed oil on the asphalt just to get the job done !!!!!).

    Whatever solution one prefers, it’s time to do it. NOW. Just do it.

  • While Muslims are beheading them in the Churches they were invited to lead prayers in.

    You left that part out.

    Where, in ANY “Islamic country” are Christians allowed to hold prayer services in a Mosque?

    You’d be talking a blood bath of Christians slaughtered “in the name of allah.”

    There is not one shred of inclusion of others to Islam and the Muslims that follow its precepts. Nothing has been more consistent in history, than Islam’s intolerance.

  • I repeat:

    While Muslims are beheading them in the Churches they were invited to lead prayers in.

    You left that part out.

    Where, in ANY “Islamic country” are Christians allowed to hold prayer services in a Mosque?

    You’d be talking a blood bath of Christians slaughtered “in the name of allah.”

    There is not one shred of inclusion of others to Islam and the Muslims that follow its precepts. Nothing has been more consistent in history, than Islam’s intolerance.

  • Lighten up, Doc. The proper name of the Washington National Cathedral is the Cathedral Church of Saints Peter and Paul. It is the cathedral of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington; they built it and it houses their offices. It belongs to the Episcopal Church… not the National Park Service or the Smithsonian or anyone else. They can’t be evicted from their own home.
    So you don’t confuse things any more, check out a nice book on cathedrals… how they were built and what they were/are used for. You’ll find they were generally community meeting places and used for all sorts of things. The Diocese of Washington is just following a practice that has been used for a thousand years.
    If you just want to say you hate the Episcopal Church and Christians in general, say so and save on the extra verbiage.

  • So you don’t think the ecumenical movement serves any good purpose. Nevertheless, you do understand that lots of Christians do think it’s worth doing. In fact, the vast majority of Christians are involved in ecumenical dialogues and joint efforts.
    I suspect you just don’t think they are real Christians because they don’t agree with your doctrine. Save your confirmation tracts for those who want to join the ELS.

  • You are aware that Isis is in Syria and Iraq… not Washington DC. Moreover it’s a revolutionary movement, not a religion. It uses religion just as it uses propaganda and an idealized dream of a historic caliphate as weapons to achieve power over its adversaries (You might just as well blame history professors for teaching the history of the middle east and its caliphates.).
    One thing we can do here in the US is build bridges between Christians and genuine Muslims. It helps us separate the real religion from the revolutionary movement.

  • I’m af theraid I must agree with Dave V on this one. For my part, I simply don’t trust Muslims when it comes to their religious sensibilities; they are far too sensitive to perceived insults and so-called ” blasphemies”to engage in critical dialogue. The thing that fosters what is regarded as ecumenicism is the democratic Rule of Law that undergirds our American legal system. To wit, the Islamic faction can’t simply pull out blades and decapitate the Christians should they (the Christians) have the effrontery to challenge the tenets of Islam, or worse, the “sacred prouncements”of their prophet.So…no.While I understand the sentiment of the various underfaith movements currently in operation, I just don’t think that Muslims share their utopian worldview when all is said and done; I think it’s an exercise in futility.

  • How many Mosques would allow a Christian or Jewish service on their premises?

    The problem isn’t with Muslims, or Christians or Jews – the vast majority of whom are decent people trying to simply behave with fairness and civility.

    The problem is that each group has been indoctrinated in an evil sauce of hateful nonsense. Ecumenism is an effort to behave in a civilized way DESPITE the holy texts – not because of them!

    Islam – “Slay them wherever you find them” (Surah, Quran)
    Christianity – “Execute them in front of me” – Jesus, New Testament
    Judaism – “Kill the unbelievers in the daylight with stones” – Yahweh, Torah

  • @Dave V,

    “Nothing has been more consistent in history, than Islam’s intolerance.”

    Except for Christian intolerance
    and Jewish intolerance even before that.

    If fact, the ONLY tolerant thing ever written for all religion…

    “Congress shall make no law establishing a religion nor prohibit the free exercise thereof”

    Atheism like that is the only hope for humanity.
    …and don’t forget it!

    For Peace, Civility, Freedom of Religion and The Separation of Church and State.

  • Oh, I already know the denominational background of the WNC. Everybody from RNS to Wikipedia has explained it already. (But thanks for your note anyway!).

    However, I’m totally done with free passes on THIS one. If you are Episcopalian, you should be calling out the WNC 100 times worse than what I’m doing. This kind of “ecumenical” mess IS messed-up.

    This isn’t just some golly-gee-let’s-invite-Muslims-to-our-church thing. Nearly everybody has done that, at some level. This isn’t another interfaith dialogue gig.

    No, this time the WNC is making a implied statement, loud and clear, that the famous (or infamous) Muslim denials of the nature of Jesus Christ and of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, are A-okay with God and compatible with Christianity. Totally unaccceptable, totally unbelievable.

    And that’s on top of the WNC offering gay marriage ceremonies, of course. It’s like these libbies-on-steroid guys can’t stop trying to top themselves in the annual Spit-In-God’s-Face contest.

    Now if the WNC was part of the National Park Service, I’d have NO objections at all. If the WNC was a franchise of the Last Chance Saloon, again NO objections.

    But this tomfoolery takes place in a supposedly Christian church and Christian headquarters. Sorry, THAT mess don’t slide!

  • “While Muslims are beheading them in the Churches they were invited to lead prayers in.”

    In Washington DC? I knew the town was rough, but beheadings are kinda new there.

    “Where, in ANY “Islamic country” are Christians allowed to hold prayer services in a Mosque?”

    Bosnia, Bangledesh, Albania. Countries which have Muslim majorities but are democratic. It is highly dishonest and infantile to compare behavior in autocratic crapholes with democratic nations.

  • “But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them–bring them here and kill them in front of me.'”
    Luke 19:27. Who are Jesus enemy who by the way is the Son of God, a part of the Trinity and God Himself. So His enemies would be Satan and the demons, and to the people influenced by Satan.

    No Matter. Islam is not compatible with Christianity for three simple reasons: 1) Islam is considered a Christian Heresy 2) Islam denial of Jesus Christ as the Son of God and 3) Denial of the Crucifixion and Resurection of Jesus Christ.

    Ecumenism movement should remain within the Christian Faith and movement toward re-unification of all Christians. And not inter-faith based Ecumenism which will never work.

  • One thing has seem to be overlooked. How can a Christian join together with a non-christian. A true Christian does not believe in doctrine, but the Bible and the Bible only. Those who will be saved will keep the Law (10 Commandments) and the says of Jesus. How can a Christian join together with Muslims , or any group who does not believe in Christ. To join in has denied Christ as their Savior. This whole one world religion movement by the Pope is impossible and will end in disaster, especially for those who keep the ten commandments and the sayings of Christ. How can any Bible believing, believer in Christ join any group who worships idols? Are Christian going to start kissing the toes of the statue of Peter now? It is actually a monument to the mythical god Seuss. It was renamed after Peter after the Catholic church tried to combine Christian faith with idol worship. Look how that turned out, millions of Christian died because they would not worship idols at the had of the Pope. Do we think this won’t happen again? Stand back and watch, those who bend to follow Sunday worship will persecute those who keep the 4th commandment. By the way, check out the Catholic Bible, they eliminated the Sabbath Law. Actually they changed much of the 10 commandments. As it says in the book of Revelations, The Beast will attempt to change times and laws. The only one of the 10 commandments that speaks of time is the 4th. Thou shalt keep the Sabbath day Holy. The seventh day of the week has never changed, it is and always will be the day before Sunday.
    Christs peace be with you!

  • Next in the agenda:

    A satanic mass
    A Moloch burning of a child to death
    An Aztec sacrifice of 1000 prisoners of war to Huizillopochtli

    After all, these are ancient noble religions.

  • I’ve accepted that you’re an idiot who will knowingly misquote a verse about self defense depriving it of context because you’re for some reason adverse to truthfulness.

    But can you at least make your citation correctly?? Quoting something as “(Surah, Quran)” doesn’t actually mean anything. It’s literally like quoting something “(Chapter, Book)”. At least number the Surah as “Surah 2:191”, or drop it altogether and just cite the Quran.

  • This event at the WNC is more unseemly that beneficial IMO. The Christian Church can be tolerant, inclusive, and loving to Muslims in a thousand different ways that doesn’t involve this kind of perplexing breach. One could even use the word “scandalous.” Very unfortunate and unnecessary.

  • Oh no!! People praying to God!! In a Church!! The horror!!

    Not really sure what the problem is. Even if one believes Mohammed to be a false prophet, he was still a prophet who commanded people to worship the God of Moses and Abraham. From what I can tell none of the Jesus-referencing verses of the Quran were preached inside of the church, so it was ultimately just a bunch of non-Christians praising the Christian God inside of a church.

    I don’t see how that’s bad, but I come from a religious tradition that commands us to open up our Mashriqu’l-Adhkars for anyone to pray in, regardless of religion, so perhaps someone of a different tradition can explain to me what was so bad about this service??

    Also how on earth do you ever expect to win converts if you won’t let non-Christians inside your churches??

  • Pretty much when you start declaring peaceable worship of a faith to be a threat to your society. Then you have clearly moved towards cultural suicide.

  • You can probably find at least one in the only democratic nation in the region, Israel.

    One should not compare the behavior of American citizens to people living in a dictatorship.

    We have a similar situation in India, where a Hindu Temple hosted a Muslim service and visa versa.

    It is not the nature of the religion, its the nature of the politics. In places where religion and the state are one in the same, bad behavior and sectarian nonsense is inevitable.

  • Christianity is not compatible with any religion. The only reason they are well behaved now is centuries of bloodshed in the past when religion and the government were one in the same. Even then we are only talking about the last couple of decades ago.

  • The saddest part is that by allowing them to pray in a church you are affirming the lie they believe. They reject Jesus who loves them and died of for them. Christ said I am the way , the truth and the life, NO ONE comes to the Father but by Me! (John 14:6). Truth is exclusive according to Jesus.

    If you really love Muslims , you will point them to the only Savior and God.
    (I don’t expect cultural Christians who aren’t born again to understand this anyway.)

    The motives of the WNC need to be questioned according to God’s Word.

  • Of course there’s nothing wrong with Muslims praying in a Christian church; they, along with the Jews, worship the same God. As far as Muslims not reciprocating, give them time. Christianity is 600 years older than Islam. How friendly was the relationship between Protestants and Catholics in the 16th and 17th centuries? All religions evolve. WNC is to be commended for contributing to that evolution.

  • Those Muslims looked pretty peaceable to me from the photos. A lot more peaceful than some of the criticism leveled against them for holding the service.

    You have to be pretty paranoid to get all in arms over people practicing their faith in a calm, orderly, peaceful fashion at the invite of the church where it is being held.

  • No the saddest part is the objections. Especially yours. They were invited in, they carried themselves in a calm, peaceful manner.

    Your only objection is based on them not being of the same faith as yourself. You would say the same thing if a Jewish group held services or Buddhists. If you really love people of other faiths, stay away from them. You are going to do nothing but offend, hurl insults (intentional or not), or act in an arrogant patronizing manner.