Muslims angered by comments at gathering of Southern
By ALLEN G. BREED
Associated Press Writer
ST. LOUIS (AP) -- A leading Islamic group demanded Tuesday that the Southern Baptist Convention condemn
"bigoted" and "hate-filled" statements made by one of its pastors. During a pastors' conference Monday evening, the
Rev. Jerry Vines, pastor of First Baptist Church of Jacksonville, Fla., told conventioneers that many of this
country's problems can be blamed on religious pluralism.
Pluralists "would have us to believe that Islam is just as good as Christianity, but I'm here to tell you, ladies and gentlemen, that Islam is not just as good as Christianity," Vines, a former SBC president, told several thousand delegates at the gathering in St. Louis.
"Islam was founded by Muhammad, a demon-possessed pedophile who had 12 wives -- and his last one was a 9-year-old girl. And I will tell you Allah is not Jehovah
either. Jehovah's not going to turn you into a terrorist that'll try to bomb people and take the lives of thousands and thousands of people."
Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations, said the comments
were outrageous. "It's really unfortunate that a top leader in a mainstream Christian church ... would use such hate-filled and bigoted language in describing the faith of one-fifth of the world's population," Hooper
said Tuesday. "This is the level of bigotry that requires a clear statement from the top leadership of the Southern
But William Merrell, a spokesman for the SBC executive committee, said the comments were made outside the actual
meeting, and that it was not the SBC's place to comment.
"The Southern Baptist Convention does not by habit renounce things as said in pastors' conferences," he said. However, he said he did not "want to give the sense that we are not sensitive or caring about this issue."
In introducing Vines at a separate speech Tuesday, outgoing SBC president James Merritt said Vines is "my
hero ... he is a prince of preachers."