Columbia Interfaith Center Ignites Controversy

November 16, 2003

Source: The Baltimore Sun,0,1473065.story?coll=bal-local-headlines

On November 16, 2003 The Baltimore Sun reported that "Columbia's four interfaith centers embody the planned community's vision of bringing together diverse groups, providing a place to worship in a tolerant environment. More than 5,000 congregants - including Buddhists, Muslims, Jews and Christians - attend services at the centers weekly. Yet a congregation of Messianic Jews - who believe that Jesus is the Messiah - is building a fifth interfaith center in Columbia's last village of River Hill. And that has ignited a debate over the freedom of religion in the town that was developed in 1967 as a home for people of all races and backgrounds. Area Jewish leaders say that the Emmanuel Messianic Jewish Congregation undermines Columbia developer James W. Rouse's philosophy - which gave birth to the interfaith centers - and believe the group should not occupy a building intended for diverse faiths. They argue that Messianic Jews evangelize to convert Jews to Christianity under the guise of Judaism, a move they call blasphemous."