By Victoria Hardina | firstname.lastname@example.org
Sharing faith and praying with someone of different religious views is like praying with someone who believes in rocks. Worshipping with such a person acknowledges their rocks as real deities, and doing that would be wrong. At least that is what the Rev. Albert S. Oren of Christ Our Savior Lutheran Church on Milton Street thinks and members of Christ the King Lutheran Church in Newtown, Conn., agree.
Last week, the Rev. Rob Morris of the Connecticut church was told by the president of his denomination to publicly apologize for partaking in an interfaith prayer service after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in December. Morris lost one of the members of his congregation in the shooting, but according to the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, a branch of the Lutheran church Oren and Morris serve, worshipping with people of different religions is a false endorsement.
“We do not join with other churches. We are not in fellowship with other pulpits. There are too many differences in our doctrinal positions now,” said Oren. “We follow the Bible and everything in it is God’s word. The Bible clearly tells us not to mix with those who hold different religions, doctrines or beliefs to be true.”
Linda Burrier, employee and member of Memorial Lutheran Church on US1 South, has a different opinion on what the Bible teaches. “I was a little appalled that the pastor had to apologize because that was not the point of what he did,” she said. “The point was for all faiths to come together as a group. There should be no labels, just coming together in a time of need.”
Burrier is part of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, which is a larger and less conservative denomination compared to the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod primarily focuses on the Bible for its literal worth, whereas the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America attempts to translate the Bible throughout the ages.
“The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod has very rigid guidelines. This is what throws people who are unfamiliar with Christianity off,” said Burrier. “An Evangelical Lutheran Church in America pastor would have never had a problem with interfaith prayer or worship.”
According to Oren, it is simply a matter of what God tells him to do through the Bible. “We cannot be a part of, or mix with those that hold different beliefs, God tells us this in Exodus,” he said. “I have nothing in common in worship with a Jewish person or Catholic. We have nothing together with the Muslims or Hindus. It’s not the same God I believe in. It would be showing I can worship with someone who believes in a rock.”