On Friday morning we stopped in a bookstore, Books for Less, a few miles away from the Islamic Center of North Fulton in Alpharetta, Ga., where we were heading for afternoon services. We had been trying unsuccessfully to find a Barnes & Noble where Rev. Steven Martin was going to meet up with a friend so that he could drive back to Tennessee for a few days, but Books for Less was the only bookstore we found in the area. So, naturally curious and looking for a few moments of rest, we walked in and were dismayed to see this front-and-center display of books in the “Christianity” section.
These books illustrate what Clergy Beyond Borders is up against – the spread of misguided, incorrect information about Islam that plays on Americans’ fear of Islam and portrays Muslims as gun-wielding terrorists and jihadis.
The fact that this bookstore is in Alpharetta is telling. The Islamic Center of North Fulton is bursting at the seams and wants to replace its small, aging facility into a much larger mosque but the city council rejected its plans last year and stated that the Islamic Center was backing out of previous agreements with the city not to expand. On Saturday, Clergy Beyond Borders went back to Alpharetta and met with the Muslim community of North Fulton, community members and representatives from various Christian churches to discuss how the community can move forward, work together and respect religious freedom and pluralism in Alpharetta. The discussion was peaceful and positive.
And those fearful and ridiculous books at Books for Less? With the permission of the cashier – who told us she was Wiccan – we set out a few copies of our booklet, “Inter-Religious Dialogue – Guides and Resources” on the counter. It’s a small but necessary step toward fighting the vast amount of incorrect information about not only Islam, but also Christianity and Judaism.