Saturday, February 25, 2006, By Juanita Westaby
The Grand Rapids Press
KENTWOOD — The Rev. Susan Thistlethwaite is fairly certain you haven’t seen the nuclear arms statement she helped write last summer. And she’s almost positive you don’t know most of the 5,000 people who have signed the call for a ban on nuclear weapons are Muslim.
"One of the things that is almost impossible in getting into the press is the idea that there is another Islam," said Thistlethwaite, president of the Chicago Theological Seminary. "There is a buying into this polarization by our own government."
Thistlethwaite said when she was asked to be one of 24 people to craft a joint statement before a U.N. nonproliferation conference in May, she decided to use principles she embraced 20 years ago from the Just Peace movement. She said she thought it would be hard to get Christians and a panel of Muslim representatives to agree, but it wasn’t.
She told members of Plymouth Congregational UCC she was surprised by Muslim leaders’ concern over nuclear weapons.
"I heard a lot from these Muslim leaders, much of it based on the Quran and Muslim teachings, about protection of the environment," she said.
Once the panel representatives found common ground, they were able to work effectively.
"That was a breakthrough moment in our meeting: the common belief in God," said Thistlethwaite, who helped edit the book "The Just Peace Church." She said it is time for moderate and liberal Christians to tell the world that not only is there more than one voice of Christianity, there is more than one type of Muslim.
Thistlethwaite, a friend of Madeleine Albright, said she has reviewed a new book by the former U.S. Secretary of State called "The Mighty and the Almighty."
"It’s a proposal for bringing religion into international relations as a resource, not as a problem," Thistlethwaite said. "Faith has to be part of the solution."