Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Worldwide Protestant church responds to Muslim cartoons

Adventist World President Responds to Muslim Caricature Controversy

Silver Spring, Maryland/USA, 03.02.2006 / ANN/APD

Following an increase in global tension surrounding the publication - in newspapers in Denmark and other European countries - of cartoons that some Muslims worldwide have found insulting, Pastor Jan Paulsen, world president of the Seventh-day Adventist church issued a call for the responsible use of the right of free expression.

The drawings were first published in a Danish newspaper in September 2005. The appearance of the cartoons provoked emotions in the Muslim world because the Islamic tradition explicitly prohibits images of Allah, Muhammad and all the major figures of the Christian and Jewish traditions.

"It is unfortunate that the publication of freely expressed opinions ... has inflamed relations among people," Pastor Paulsen said in a statement released at the Adventist world headquarters.

"As Seventh-day Adventists we support and encourage the responsible use of the right of free expression," he added. "Inherent in that responsibility is also being mindful of not insulting others, and causing injury to their beliefs and practices. Opinions can be shared without the colour of disrespect, and debate can take place but without offending the beliefs of others."

Drawing on many years of experience in intercultural ministry in Africa and around the world, Paulsen noted the importance of valuing diversity and of building harmonious communities, while at the same time acknowledging the importance of free speech.

"My work as a Seventh-day Adventist Church leader has taken me to many nations. I witness the value of diversity and the fact that Christians build the community alongside adherents of many other religions and worldviews," he said. "And I recommend that living by the principle of the Golden Rule, which asks us to do unto others as we would wish them to do unto us, would inspire us to live in harmony with all people, be free in expressing our views, but also maintaining courtesy and respect to all."

More than 25 million people worship weekly in Seventh-day Adventist congregations in 203 countries and territories around the world. Adventists are a protestant mainstream world communion with a global network of hospitals, educational institutions and health food businesses dedicated to serving needs worldwide.

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