Priest adopts Islam for Lent

[quote=Columbus Dispatch]Priest adopts Islam for Lent
An Episcopal priest in St. Louis got in trouble with his bishop for taking on the rituals and dietary restrictions of Islam for Lent. The Rev. Steve Lawler says he was just trying to experience the faith in a firsthand way to gain understanding, but his bishop thought it was disrespectful to “play” at another faith. The full story is below.
[INDENT]By Cynthia Billhartz Gregorian The St. Louis Post-Dispatch

FERGUSON, Mo. (RNS) The Rev. Steve Lawler should have just given up chocolate or television for Lent.

Instead, Lawler, the part-time rector of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, decided to adopt the rituals of Islam for 40 days to gain a deeper understanding of the faith.

Two days after it began, he faced being defrocked if he continued in those endeavors.
“He can’t be both a Christian and a Muslim,” said Bishop George Wayne Smith of the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri. “If he chooses to practice as Muslim, then he would, by default, give up his Christian identity and priesthood in the church.”

Oy vey!

Why doesn’t he fast like Christ for 40 days instead? I say this many times and I will say it again. Ramadan is nothing, but a reversal of day to night. Muslims “fast” during the day, but eat like crazy at night. Most Muslims gain weight during Ramadan. Is that fasting?

The night is lively during the month of Ramadan. That’s what I enjoyed most when I was in Saudi Arabia.

 This is similar to the New Jersey Episcopal Priest in New Jersey who invited Christians and Muslims to worship side by side:

That seems rather disrespectful both to his Catholic Church and to Muslims. I do remember, though, that in grade school (a Catholic school) a couple years we pretended to have passover meals during lunch, I don’t think that’s quite comparable.

I know I sound like such a bore, but if he wanted to learn about others’ faiths, why didn’t he just read a book?

I wonder if he celebrated Pancake Tuesday?

He’s Episcopal.

I didn’t know Islam was an orphan.

This is probably why Episcopal clergy leave for Rome.

Oops! I guess that shows how well I read the story! :blush:

Well, then he’s offended Episcopalianism, or perhaps better to say Christianity in general, instead. One can’t just switch religions for a few weeks, like a vacation, especially if one is a minister.

Yeah. Remember everyone this is an Episcopal priest. The Episcopal church is not Catholic and is not in communion with the Pope.


That would be far worse I suppose if he had adopted a kid for lent, then gave him back the day after Easter. :eek:

The Episcopal Church has offended christianity in much bigger ways than this.

Openly Gay Bishops and Priests
Women Bishops and Priests
Gay Women Bishops(not sure?) and Priests(sure)
I could continue, but why even bother. In the word’s of Cardinal Cajetan:

“he has condemned himself already”

Wow this is nutty.

It is a good thing to look at how other people fast. The Greek Orthodox fasts are intriguing. The Islamic fast, done pure Islamic style, is nothing Episcopalians are ready for! haha. You are allowed to wet your mouth while the sun is up. And you have to spit it out, you can’t drink it. Not during the day. Those are Arabs who thought of these rules on water, in a desert. Rules for food are equally harsh. Ramadan is a harsh mistress.

No doubt exists that this Episcopalian priest got busted by his own flock.

As he should be. You’re crazy to think that Lent is a time to study Mohammed’s fasts.

A commenter at asked an interesting question. The Diocese of Missouri is not generally regarded as a liberal stronghold in The Episcopal Church. But what would the reaction have been if this had taken place in, say, Los Angeles, San Francisco, New Jersey, or Minnesota?

His church did, so I imagine he participated in some fashion.


Man I had to click in here, I was very relieved to realize it was an Epsiopalian [and no I don’t care to learn how to spell this word.] I thought it was a Catholic priest. :stuck_out_tongue:

Glad this thread is turning to be pretty funny.

God bless.

The Episcopal Church has of late become barely recognizable as Christian.

I would agree some elements. Their liberalized approach has caused the Episcopal church to experience dramatic loss in membership over the last 30 years. Ironically, they expected a growth in members, as predicted by the supporters of consecrated gay clergy.

At least his bishop is upset over it.

Maybe you should try actually visiting an Episcopal parish.

You would (unless you were very unlucky) hear the Nicene Creed, the same number and kind of Scripture readings as in your own Church (the OT reading would probably be a different one, but other than that the lectionaries are pretty much identical), and a Eucharistic prayer that invoked the events of salvation history and spoke of the death and resurrection of Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and the Second Coming.

Pretty Christian by any reasonable standard, I’d think.

Why can’t people say “you are unorthodox Christians” without saying “you are barely recognizable as Christian”?

Or are you genuinely confused by the high profile given certain incidents in the media? Don’t you know better than to get your view of any religious group from the media? Would you like people to judge Catholicism by the things that get reported in the media?


Yes, that’s what’s so weird about these repeated stories as discussed on this forum. We’ve seen it with the priest who actually became a Muslim, with the bishop-elect who practiced Zen Buddhism, and now here. The pattern goes like this:

  1. An Episcopal priest makes a controversial effort to syncretize Christianity with some other religion.
  2. The Episcopal Church disciplines the priest (Rev. Redding was defrocked for becoming Muslim, the election of the “Buddhist bishop” was not confirmed and thus he never actually became a bishop, and now this guy has been reprimanded for his little experiment).
  3. The good Catholics on this forum cluck about how you can get away with anything in the Episcopal Church and the EC isn’t really recognizable as Christian anymore.

These three events have actually surprised me, because I didn’t think the EC had the kind of disciplinary teeth that it has shown. It seems that many folks are reading their own prejudices into these events instead of paying attention to what has actually happened.

Of the three cases, Rev. Redding’s was the only one that seemed clear-cut to me, because she made it clear that she didn’t believe in the deity of Christ. Bishop-elect Forrester should not have been rejected solely for his Buddhist ties, in my opinion (it’s not clear to me that Zen practice is incompatible with orthodox Christianity), but it turned out that his theological views were unorthodox (in ways that seemed influenced by Buddhism), and so I entirely support my bishop and the many others who voted not to confirm him.

The present instance is being overblown, it seems to me. The article makes it clear that (unlike Rev. Redding) he has not recited the Shahada or denied the divinity of Jesus but has simply adopted Islamic rituals which are not incompatible with Christianity. I agree with the bishop that it wasn’t a very good idea, but it’s not apostasy.


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