The headline in the San Jose Mercury read: Sermon Subject Raises Hackles, but what they meant was that a little church marquis—the kind with black moveable letters that promos the upcoming service—was upsetting the neighbors and getting the attention of a Mercury reporter. What was the offensive sermon title? Why I am not a Muslim, a sermon delivered on November 28 by Pastor Donald Fareed, president of a group called Persian Ministries International and a former Iranian Muslim who converted to Christianity after coming to America 14 years ago.
“I thought it was an offensive sign,” a neighbor said.
Huh? If a Christian church can’t preach (and promote) a sermon on why I’m not a Muslim, or a Hindu, or a secularist, or anything else, we’re all in trouble. Why Muslims are going to hell would be offensive, although true to the church’s doctrines. Would Why I am a Christian be deemed offensive to this very sensitive neighborhood.
In any case, Fareed preached his sermon. He says, “My goal is not to offend Muslims, but to communicate why I changed my religion–the spiritual reasons that led to my conversion.”
Fareed hosts a weekly television show in the Bay Area. About two years ago he vastly expanded his reach by broadcasting globally by satellite in Farsi. He believes he now reaches about 30 million people each week. He said large numbers of Iranians and other Muslims he has talked with have begun to open up to other religious options in the face of harsh Islamist governments.
All Fareed has to deal with is the harsh neighbors and a slow news day in San Jose.