Keepers of Protestantism’s pacifist traditions will showcase just how far they’ve come from their humble roots in Europe’s persecuted peasantry when they share an intimate dinner Thursday in New York with a world leader.
It’s not just any world leader, however, but Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who’s been labeled an international pariah for his nuclear ambitions, denial of the Holocaust, saber-rattling toward Israel and alleged support of terrorism.
But for Quakers and Mennonites who’ll be at the table, breaking bread with this controversial man means drawing deeply on the same spiritual roots that sustained their embattled ancestors long ago.
“Jesus ate with lepers and with tax collectors, and in the United States right now, Iran would be in that category,” says Arli Klassen, executive director of the Mennonite Central Committee, an outreach arm for Mennonite and Brethren in Christ churches in the United States and Canada.
The New York gathering, an Iftar dinner to commemorate the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, will mark the fourth time since 2006 that Ahmadinejad has met with American religious leaders. Each time, Klassen says, it’s been at Ahmadinejad’s request.
Read the rest here.