When Christians invite Muslims into their homes, it sometimes happens that the guests wish to perform their ritual prayers at the specified “prayer time.” This may be intended as a witness of their Muslim commitment, but it is not a religious obligation as such, as the prayers can be made up later, at home. This means that it is not an offense for the Christian host to ask the guests to defer their prayers until they return home, but of course it is also possible to accommodate their wish. In countries where there are many Muslim immigrants, churches have been asked to provide facilities for Muslim worship; until now, this request has seldom been granted, at least as far as the sanctuaries are concerned.

It is accepted as a matter of course that Muslims will not make their own mosques available for Christian services, and of course they cannot be faulted for this, because it would be inconsistent with the fundamentals of their faith. Muslims who take their faith seriously, and even many who do not, naturally understand a similar reluctance on the part of Christians. Christians, by contrast, often do not see the issue clearly enough to take a firm stand, perhaps thinking that by offering their facilities for Muslim worship they will win friends and perhaps eventually create an openness to the Gospel, but in fact the Muslims will generally regard the Christians as insincere, superficial, worldly, and impious.

Last December, while commenting on Bosnia, Republican Senate Majority Leader Robert Dole, a Methodist who attends a conservative congregation, stated that while we intend to be evenhanded in Bosnia, “We are not neutral: we are pro-Muslim.” Surely Senator Dole does not mean to imply “anti-Christian,” because, like many American Protestants, he hardly identifies the Orthodox Serbs with Christianity. In fact, to be “pro-Muslim” in such a situation is to be anti-Christian. Attitudes such as that expressed by Senator Dole are received by most Muslims as a sign of the weakness of the individual, of his faith, and of Christianity itself, and hardly contribute to interfaith tolerance.

Tolerance makes sense only when different parties respect one another, and it is hard to respect a group or party that is lacking in confidence and self-respect. If any reader is aware of a similar situation anywhere in the world concerning a prominent Islamic official who has said, “We are not neutral, we are pro-Christian,” we would be glad to hear of it.