Schools Try to Patch Rift in Mosque Project

December 30, 2006

Author: Michael Paulson

Source: The Boston Globe

The presidents of two prominent local religious institutions are calling on a Jewish advocacy organization and the backers of a Roxbury mosque project to drop their lawsuits in their contentious dispute over the mosque's construction.

Nick Carter , the president of Andover Newton Theological School, and David Gordis, president of Hebrew College, yesterday announced that they had sent a joint letter to leaders of the Islamic Society of Boston, which is building the mosque, and The David Project, a Jewish organization that has raised questions about the mosque's leadership, offering outlines for a resolution to the long-running and bitter dispute. Andover Newton and Hebrew College are located on the same hilltop in Newton Centre, and their jointly sponsored program, the Interreligious Center for Public Life, has met with both the Islamic Society and the David Project in an effort to find a solution.

The two presidents proposed not only that the two groups drop their suits, but that they issue a joint statement condemning terrorism, declare their shared support for the construction of houses of worship, support the creation of a new center for interfaith understanding, and that they hold a joint "celebratory event."

"We don't mind being called naive, but there's a simplicity about this that tries to say to each of them that we think this is something worthy of your consideration -- it's a chance for peace to break out," Carter said. "It has rarely produced productive results to try and go back and find out who was to blame. Sometimes it's easier to try and listen carefully to what each is trying to say."