24 Hour News
Saturday, September 14, 2002
Sept. 11 ceremonies feature faith, tolerance
Copyright © 2002 AP Online
By RICHARD N. OSTLING, AP Religion Writer
NEW YORK (September 12, 4:15 a.m. PDT) - The nation's day began with a moment of silence and closed with a televised plea from President Bush: "Our prayer tonight is that God will see us through and keep us worthy."
In the hours between, Americans marked the anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attacks with ceremonies and services stressing religious tolerance and interfaith harmony.
At St. Bartholomew's Episcopal Church in New York, religious figures processed in a rainbow of robes, caps and symbols. Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Sikh, Jain, Bahai, Taoist, Zoroastrian, Native American and African tribal prayers were uttered.
"We needed to reach out to each other, to share our grief and we needed everyone to pray together," said U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, one of the worshipers.
In St. Louis, a Muslim imam gave thanks to Americans for their religious tolerance, and a Reform rabbi and the local Roman Catholic archbishop preached harmony. Thirty Christian, Jewish and Muslim clergy gathered at a service in Detroit's Roman Catholic cathedral.
"We pray for safety, but we also pray for those profiled and deported since Sept. 11," the Rev. John Marsh, a Unitarian Universalist, told an interfaith congregation at San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge.
The Fiqh Council of North America, a supreme court that interprets Muslim religious law, issued an anniversary statement condemning the attacks as violations of Islam. Mosque leaders in various cities stressed their patriotism and moral contempt for the Sept. 11 attackers.
"So many people still think Muslims are about terrorism, but the truth is we are about peace," Sa'id Abdul-Salaam told firefighters and religious leaders at a mosque in Durham, N.C.
The anniversary brought musical harmony as well. Church bells tolled thousands of times to honor the victims. Concert requiems rolled across the land, including an orchestra that played "Amazing Grace" at the crash site in Shanksville, Pa.
Catholic Bishop Kenneth Angell of Burlington, Vt., had a brother and sister-in-law in one of the planes that hit the World Trade Center. But the bishop insisted, "in those worst hours, God was with us" in the heroes who helped others that day.
In his TV speech late in the day, Bush called on Americans to "respect the faith of Islam" and oppose only those who "defile that faith."
Also as the day ended, several hundred people held candles during a vigil in Lansing, Mich. "The road to peace is not an easy one," said Said Omer Sobhani of the East Lansing Islamic Center, "but it is the best and only choice."
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