Source: The Herald-Tribune
On February 23, 2004 The Herald-Tribune reported, "In a move that threatens to divide the local religious community, the Venice Area Ministerial Association is considering whether to exclude Jewish, Muslim and other religious groups that do not 'declare allegiance to Jesus Christ of Nazareth.' Several conservative church leaders in the Venice area said that non-Christian involvement 'compromises the Christian integrity' of the association, according to a letter to members by its president. Traditionally, the association has been open to all clergy. It holds joint religious services, works with government agencies such as the police, and raises money for the South County Food Bank. The Venice Jewish Community Center has been a member for at least seven years, but no Muslim, Buddhist or other non-Christian religions have been involved. Denying membership to non-Christian faiths would separate the Venice association from other ministerial groups in Southwest Florida. Associations in Englewood, Sarasota, Bradenton, and Manatee and Charlotte counties all said they welcome members of all faiths... 'This is an example of the national conservative backlash against religious pluralism," said the Rev. Susanne Nazian of the Unitarian Universalist Church in Venice."