Rep. Maxine Waters, the South L.A. Democratic congresswoman currently fighting House ethics charges, will be joined by other dignitaries and religious leaders, who will courageously come out against Quran burning this morning at the First AME Church on South Harvard Blvd.

In case you missed it, a guy in Florida who tends not so much to a congregation as a little cult, had been threatening to burn some Quran's Saturday, the anniversary of the 9/11 atrocities. (He seems to have backed down.) To give you some idea of how uncontroversial the Don't Burn the Quran Movement is now, Waters joins Haley Barbour, the Republican governor of Mississippi sometimes compared to Boss Hogg, in condemning the Quran burning.

Meanwhile, at St. Luke's Presbyterian Church in Rolling Hills Estates, they'll have a Quran reading Saturday, Florida burn or no burn.

“We have been lamenting the hateful actions that have been contemplated in Florida,” the Rev. Reinhard Krauss, pastor of the church, told the Daily Breeze. “We saw it as an opportunity to take action, to look at some texts in the Quran and see what they have to say.”

From noon to 1 p.m. Saturday, the church invites members of all faiths to read and discuss in small groups portions of Islam's sacred text. The event is not intended as a protest or debate, Reinhard said, but rather an opportunity to learn.

Let's just speculate that they will find the text totally bewildering, as most “sacred” texts are to those not steeped in their teaching, especially when reading them in the wrong language. For that matter, even scholars who spend decades studying “sacred” texts, and in the right language, find them bewildering. Moving on….

Not to break up the feelings of good will and fellowship between Christians and Muslims here, but let us turn to Michael Kinsley for some contrarian analysis.

This goes back to a little mini controversy when George W. Bush was first running for president. He'd been paraphrased as saying if you don't accept Jesus as your savior, you don't go to Heaven, meaning you go to Hell. Questions were raised about whether this made Bush an anti-semite or whatever.

Kinsley's take:

Born-again Christianity claims to be the right answer to the most fundamental questions. So how can Jews possibly get into heaven without converting? Only two ways that I can see. One is if God allows exemptions. But to avoid offending any religious or nonreligious group, the exception would have to be that anyone who does not accept Christ need not accept Christ, which would destroy the rule. The other way out would be if the entire belief system permits doubt about itself–for example, if it's only 50-50 that accepting Christ is mandatory for salvation for anybody, including George W. himself. Neither of these conditions applies to George W.'s faith, as he describes it.

And so what? Why should anyone care whether he or she will achieve salvation by the terms of someone else's religion? What difference does it make if you can't get into a heaven you don't believe in? As a nonbeliever, I find the conventions of ecumenism baffling. I don't want to tell you people how to run your religions. And obviously we want to avoid an outbreak of religious war, or even lesser forms of intolerance, if possible. But why does tolerance require people to pretend they don't believe what they do?

So there you have it. Ecumenism is all well and good. But let's face the fact that each religion believes the other is wrong, with eternal ramifications for their respective believers.

-With reporting from City News Service. Got news? Email us.

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