Aldersgate Pastor Appears on Jon Stewart’s ‘Daily Show’
Reverend defends controversial decision to allow Muslims to pray at church
Rev. Dennis Perry will appear on “The Daily Show” on Friday night to explain his decision to allow members of a nearby mosque to hold Friday prayers at his church, Aldersgate United Methodist church.
The segment, which first aired Thursday at 11 p.m., can also be viewed here .
Appearing with Perry before Aldersgate's towering cross is the executive director of the mosque, Naeem Baig. The filming was done at the Fort Hunt Road church April 1. The interviewer is John Oliver.
Perry and his assistant, Rev. Jason Micheli, have come under fire from some parishioners for the decision. The church first opened its doors to Muslims in the fall, welcoming their prayer sessions in the church’s Guback Center. When Fox News picked up the story in February, it set off a firestorm of controversy and media attention.
Fox Reporter Lauren Green asked if it was appropriate for churches to host Muslim worshippers and warned of “Chrislam”—a blending of Christianity and Islam.
The story garnered 3,000 comments online, many enraged, and unleashed an assault of angry mail and phone calls to Aldersgate’s pastors, according the United Methodist Reporter.
Then presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee chimed in, questioning whether any church was “really ever intended to be a place where something that is the antithesis of the gospel of Christ would be presented.”
Since the decision was made, some Aldersgate parishioners have left the church.
“It’s sad,” said Perry, reached by telephone early Friday. “And the people who have left are people of integrity. We’ve also had people come to the church because of the decision.”
"Daily Show" interviewer John Oliver jokes in the video that there is “an epidemic” of Christian churches across America opening their doors to the Muslim community.
Perry was asked Friday by Fort Hunt Patch if such a national movement would win The War on Terror?
“I think it’s a step in the right direction,” he said. “You’ve got to build peace whenever you get the chance. Instead of seeing Muslims as competitors, we need to work together for a common purpose.”
The Muslims who are worshiping Friday at Aldersgate while the building of their mosque is completed have invited Christians to their mosque, according to Amy Hurd, director of Aldersgate communications.
But what would Jesus say?
“Jesus spent most of his time with religious outsiders,” said Rev. Perry.
“Jesus would love what we’re doing.”