Home > Queensland Synod News > US Episcopal priest who embraced Islam suspended

US Episcopal priest who embraced Islam suspended


A US Episcopal (Anglican) priest, who announced that she has embraced Islam, has been suspended for one year by her supervising bishop, who said the woman’s dual religious loyalties were in "inherent" conflict.

The decision by Episcopal Bishop Geralyn Wolf of the US state of Rhode Island means that the Rev. Ann Holmes Redding, who is based in Seattle, in the US state of Washington, cannot "exercise any of the responsibilities and privileges of an Episcopal priest or deacon" for a year.

Redding was ordained as an Episcopal priest in Rhode Island in 1984, and remains under the supervision of that diocese.

"I am both Muslim and Christian, just like I’m both an American of African descent and a woman. I’m 100 percent both," Redding told The Seattle Times in an interview published in June.

"At the most basic level, I understand the two religions to be compatible.  That’s all I need," Redding told the newspaper.  She said she was initially drawn to Islam because of the intensity of commitment displayed in Muslim prayer.

Bishop Wolf said she had issued a 3 July "pastoral direction" to Redding, giving her "the opportunity to reflect on the doctrines of the Christian faith, her vocation as a priest", and what Wolf sees as "the conflicts inherent in professing both Christianity and Islam".

Redding, aged 55, has agreed to abide by Wolf’s directive and said one option open to her is to leave the Episcopal priesthood voluntarily, though that is not an option she wants to consider.  She said that in the 15 months since she embraced Islam she had become, "a better teacher, a better preacher and a better Christian."

While Christianity and Islam share some common roots, they diverge considerably on a number of crucial issues, particularly the divinity of Jesus.  For Christians, this issue is a central religious tenet; for Muslims it is not.

Redding had been licensed to officiate in the US state of Washington, and most recently headed a "faith formation" programme at St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral in Seattle.  She is no longer working at the cathedral but church officials said this is due to programme cutbacks and not because of Redding’s dual faith practices.

(c) Ecumenical News International