An Open Letter To Our Muslim Neighbors

After I read an article in the Daily Commercial within which they interviewed some of our Muslim neighbors from the Islamic Centers in Clermont, I felt the need to write letter you'll read below. Like many of us, I’ve been very angry lately about the effects of radical Islam on our world.  

I’ve also struggled with my own ability to show grace even to those Muslims who strongly disagree and abhor the way their religion has been hijacked by lunatics.  Honestly, I feel that way sometimes, too, when I see stories about Westboro Baptist Church, or even hear what many prominent Christian leaders say that people assume all Christians believe. 

The following is a letter that I wrote shortly after the tragic shooting at the Pulse nightclub, and (with the endorsement of the elders of my church) sent to the two Islamic centers in Lake County.  I'm sharing this as an open letter in hopes that it will open minds and hearts (including my own).  

To the Members of the Clermont Masjid, 

Al-salaamu alaykum during this holy month of Ramadan.  

I am writing this letter in my capacity as Lead Pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Eustis, and as a brother, a neighbor and a friend.  Grace and Peace to you in the name of Jesus, whose example guides me as I seek to know God, and love others.  

Like all of us, I know that you were saddened and shocked by the recent tragedy in Orlando.  But I am also well aware that when you, as members of the Muslim community, receive the news of such tragedies, you experience it with a sense of fear and, I imagine, a sense of dread.  

Just as you grieve when people assume that a few, angry, misguided people speak and act for all Muslims, I also grieve when angry, misguided people claim to speak and act for all Christians.   

Please know that you are in my prayers, and in the prayers of many Christians who refuse to give in to hate, and ignorance.  Our Scriptures teach us that we should not be overcome by evil, but that we should “overcome evil with good.”  

I know that the Holy Quran speaks to this as well, exhorting us to “compete with each other in doing good.” And this is what we must do as friends and neighbors during this trying time in order to push back against evil, and ensure it does not get the last word. 

To that end, we offer our friendship, our love, grace and peace to you and all of the members of your community during this time of tragedy—tragedy that affects us all as children of God.  

W’al-salaam alaykum

Counting it all Joy, 

Rev. Dr. Leon Bloder

Lead Pastor, First Presbyterian Church of Eustis 


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