Controversial Sign Changes But Not Message - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

09/16/02

Controversial Sign Changes But Not Message

The controversial sign in front of a Long Beach Church has been changed. It no longer reads, "There is one God and His name is not Allah." The marquee now says, "There is one God and His name is not self." The pastor of the Cleveland Avenue Church of Christ says he altered the sign because the message changes weekly. It doesn't mean he's changed his mind that the Christian "God" and the Islamic "Allah" are not the same.

On Sunday church members took communion as a way showing their belief in God as the Holy Trinity. Some members say it's that belief that separates them as Christians from other religions.

"The Islamic faith states that basically God has no son and we worship the son," said George Eyrich, a Christian. "So it's a difference of opinion."

Most of the congregation heard about the controversy surrounding their pastor's decision to put up a sign saying that the Christian God and Muslim "Allah" are not the same. Some supported the minister.

Delores Anderson said Osama Bin Laden praised "Allah" after the terrorist attacks. "If Allah and God are the same are you saying that my God caused the Trade Center to be bombed? I don't think so."

The Sunday school classes at the Biloxi Islamic Center included a lesson on the prophets of Allah including Moses, Abraham and Jesus.

"We in our school always read the gospel of Jesus and we know that Christianity is not about expressing hate for anyone," said Yasmin Mohiuddin, a Muslim."I certainly hope and believe that it [the sign] was just ignorance and not hate for anyone."

Muslims say "God" and "Allah" is the same word translated into different languages.

"In the old Jewish language it's Jehovah. In Arabic it Allah. In English it's God. so basically it's saying that they're is only on God and his name is not God. That's exactly what it says," said Mohiuddin.

Members of the Long Beach church say the sign was a proclamation of faith not meant to offend anyone. While some local Muslims say what disturbs them is not so much the sign but that it was a man of God that put it up.

Reverend Dan Huggins says of the approximately 200 phone calls and e-mails he's received about the sign only about 15 have been negative. Meanwhile, members of the Biloxi Islamic Center say they've been contacted by national media to talk about the incident.

by Danielle Thomas

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